FDA Struggles To Define 'Gluten-Free' After Seven Years

05/02/2011 11:25 am ET | Updated Jul 02, 2011

In 2004, Congress gave the FDA until 2008 to create a definition for what a gluten-free product actually means. Seven years later, we're still waiting.

The Washington Post reports that as celiac disease rates are rising, there is still no set definition on what defines a gluten-free product.

The $2.6 billion (compared to $100 million in 2003) U.S. gluten-free product industry currently has quite a bit of wiggle room. The Washington Post explains that some companies "might fail to test their products or might allow small amounts of gluten but still label their foods as gluten-free."

Other countries including Canada, Brazil and Australia have defined gluten-free foods as 0.0007 of an ounce of gluten for every 2.2 pounds of food. Though the FDA has no set definition, it does offer a FAQ page about gluten-free labeling.

On May 4, the world's largest gluten-free cake will be brought to Capitol Hill to call attention to the issue. Currently, at least three million Americans have celiac disease, and 18 million have gluten sensitivity.