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Monday, April 25, 2011
Take Action: Gluten-Free Legislation
There has been a lot of hype lately surrounding the lack of support from the FDA when it comes to mandatory labeling of gluten-free products. There are some fundraising events going on promoting this cause but it has been unclear to me exactly how lawmakers are directly involved with the events and where your donations are going. Raising awareness is one thing, but having a member of the government be intimately involved and actually take action is another thing. Lucky for us New Yorkers, there is some progressive action going on in our gluten-free community.

New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm has introduced two pieces of legislation concerning gluten: Int. No. 502 and Res. No. 689. The passage of these bills in New York City will hopefully increase understanding nationwide about celiac disease and the importance of proper labeling. I have included the text of these resolutions below. The latter resolution is most relevant to our NYC gluten-free community. Council Member Dromm has a very personal connection to Celiac Disease, his mother has it and so does one of his former interns.

For my readers in New York City, I encourage you to to contact your Council Members to ensure they are signed on as co-sponsors of these pieces of legislation. To figure out who represents you, constituents can go to: I urge you all to sign up to co-sponsor this legislation. It is your right as a gluten-free American!

Thank you Council Member Dromm for proposing this legislation and for supporting the gluten-free community.

Int. No. 502
By Council Members Dromm and Cabrera

A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to gluten and food establishments.

Be it enacted by the Council as follows:

Section 1. Chapter one of title 17 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 17-198 to read as follows:

§17-198 Posting of gluten information.
a. Definitions.
1. "Covered food service establishment" shall mean a food service establishment within the city of New York that is one of a group of 15 or more food service establishments doing business nationally, offering for sale substantially the same menu items, in servings that are standardized for portion size and content, that operate under common ownership or control, or as franchised outlets of a parent business, or do business under the same name.

2. "Food service establishment" shall have the meaning as such term is defined in section 81.03 of the health code of the city of New York, except that it shall apply exclusively to places where food is sold and space is designated specifically as an eating area.

3. "Menu" shall mean a printed list or pictorial display of a food item or items, and their price(s), that are available for sale from a covered food service establishment and shall include menus distributed or provided outside of such establishment.

4 "Menu board" shall mean any list or pictorial display of a food item or items, and their price(s) posted in and visible within a covered food service establishment or outside of a covered food service establishment for the purpose of ordering from a drive-through window.

5. "Menu item" shall mean any individual food item, or combination of food items, listed or displayed on a menu board or menu that is sold by a covered food service establishment.

6. "Food item tag" shall mean a label or tag that identifies any food item displayed for sale at a covered food service establishment.

b. Scope and applicability. This section shall apply to menu items that are served in portions the size and content of which are standardized at a covered food service establishment. This section shall not apply to menu items that are listed on a menu or menu board for less than 30 days in a calendar year.

c. Posting gluten information for menu items. All menu boards and menus in any covered food service establishment shall indicate which menu items contain gluten. Such information shall be listed clearly and conspicuously, adjacent or in close proximity to such menu items so as to be clearly associated with the menu item, using a font and format that is at least as prominent, in size and appearance, as that used to post either the name or price of the menu item.

1. Food item tags. When a food item is displayed for sale with a food item tag, any such food that contains gluten shall include that it contains gluten in a font size and format at least as prominent as the font size of the name of the food item.

2. Drive-through windows. Gluten content information at drive-through windows shall be displayed on either the drive-through menu board, or on an adjacent sign visible at or prior to the point of ordering, so long as the gluten content for each menu item is clearly and conspicuously posted on the sign adjacent to their respective menu item names on the drive-through menu board.

d. Penalties. Any covered food service establishment that violates subdivision c of this section of the code or any of the rules promulgated thereunder shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed one hundred dollars for each violation.

e. Instruction and testing on gluten. The department shall require instruction and testing on gluten as part of any food protection course provided pursuant to Article 81 of the health code of the city of New York.
§2. This local law shall take effect one hundred eighty days after its enactment into law, provided that, the commissioner may promulgate any rules necessary for implementing and carrying out the provisions of this section prior to its effective date.

Res. No. 689
By Council Members Dromm, Brewer, Koppell, Mendez, Nelson, Reyna, Rose, Sanders Jr., Williams and Lappin

Resolution calling on the United States Food and Drug Administration to make "gluten-free" labeling of foods mandatory.

Whereas, The number of Americans with celiac disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the small intestine and gluten intolerances has been estimated to be 1 in 133; and

Whereas, Celiac disease is triggered by ingesting certain proteins, commonly referred to as "gluten" which is naturally present in some cereal grains; and

Whereas, In those suffering from celiac disease gluten causes a variety of serious health problems including: iron deficiency anemia, delayed puberty, infertility, osteoporosis, hepatitis, peripheral neuropathy, ataxia, and epilepsy; and

Whereas, The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule to make "gluten-free" labeling voluntary for food product manufacturers; and

Whereas, The proposed rule seeks to define "gluten-free" for food labeling purposes in order to ensure that consumers know what is in the food products they purchase; and

Whereas, There is no regulatory definition of the term "gluten-free" in the United States; and

Whereas, However, a standardized definition of the term "gluten-free" would assist food product manufacturers by providing them with a clear definition of the term, thereby eliminating any uncertainty as to how they may label their products; and

Whereas, A standardized definition of the term "gluten-free" can serve to
protect the public health by providing consumers with celiac disease, and others who must avoid gluten in their diet, with the assurance that food products bearing this labeling meet a clear standard established and enforced by FDA; and

Whereas, For those who must closely monitor the potential use of gluten in their diets, the mandatory labeling of foods as "gluten-free" would help those individuals better regulate their diets; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls upon the United States Food and Drug Administration to make "gluten-free" labeling of foods mandatory.

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Blogger Unknown said...

I got a response today from my local Council Member. How exciting!

April 26, 2011

Dear Ms. Smith:

Thank you for writing in regard to gluten and food labeling legislation within the City Council. I appreciate your input and will carefully examine the related bills in their entirety.

If there is anything that I can do for you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


Chair, Public Safety Committee

Blogger Mike Eberhart said...

Good post! It seems that the years just keep passing by and we can not get any standardized gluten-free labeling laws and such in place. I am glad that more and more products are at least voluntarily labeling items as GF, etc, though I would feel better if there were standards behind it. At least the market has much improved over the past 5yrs or more: I remember when seeing "GF" on something was a rarity.

Anonymous gluten content said...

Thanks for supporting the gluten free family.

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