WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) said on Aug. 5 that it commends the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clearly defining “gluten-free.” NAMA emphasized that the definition is important for consumers’ understanding and industry usage of the term gluten-free. Under the FDA definition, oats may be used as an ingredient in a food labeled as "gluten-free" provided that the food contains less than 20 ppm gluten. Oat producers who take the necessary steps to limit the gluten content of oat containing products now have a mechanism to communicate that benefit to consumers.

Guidance on whether oats should be consumed by individuals with celiac disease has been controversial for many years. NAMA said it appreciates FDA’s thoughtful consideration of the nutritional contribution of oats in the diets of celiac patients and commends FDA for not including oats on the list of prohibited grains.

NAMA noted that gluten-free diets are critical for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and they are also helpful for those with allergies to wheat. It said there is no scientific evidence that suggests a gluten-free diet can provide health benefits for the general population. Research has shown that gluten is actually helpful for healthy gut bacteria in individuals who can tolerate it. For the vast majority, going gluten-free is unnecessary, NAMA said.