WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 29, 2011 – Prominent members of the burgeoning gluten-free communityannounced today a collaborative “1in133” event on May 4 to build the world’s largest gluten-free cake as part of an effort to draw attention to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) delay in finalizing standards for gluten-free food labeling. The name is derived from the fact that at least one in every 133 people in the U.S. suffers from celiac disease. Research now indicates that while as many as 3 million Americans has celiac disease, another 18 million have gluten sensitivity; both groups must entirely avoid gluten as a medically-necessitated diet.
To kick-off Celiac Awareness Month – globally recognized in May - the 1in133 event is being hosted at the Washington, D.C., Embassy Suites Convention Center on May 4 and will culminate with a V.I.P. reception for federal lawmakers, concerned members and friends of the gluten-free community and gluten-free food manufacturers. With pre-eminent guest speakers and information on a petition advocating for the FDA to take action on determining a gluten-free food-labeling standard, the 1in133 event will reinforce the need for such standards.
“This is a very serious autoimmune disease,” cautions Dr. Alessio Fasano of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research. “It deserves equally serious food labeling laws.” Fasano, one of the world’s leading researchers in celiac disease and a leading proponent of a federally mandated gluten-free standard, will be the 1in133 event’s guest speaker.
Seven years ago the FDA was tasked with developing and implementing standards for gluten-free labeling as part of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). The standards have yet to be completed and have left millions of Americans with celiac disease and gluten intolerance at risk of illness from contaminated food.
Currently, U.S. food manufacturers can claim “gluten-free” on product labels without appropriately informing consumers if a product is truly free of all potentially harmful ingredients. As a burgeoning market -- $560 million in sales in 2004 and projected sales of approximately $2.6 billion in 2012 -- gluten-free food products have brought many newcomers to the space claiming gluten-free status on their labels while not necessarily removing all potential allergens. Other manufacturers are reluctant to label their products “gluten-free” because there is no accepted standard. This disparate situation leaves consumers who eat gluten-free to guess which products are actually safe for consumption.
FALCPA was passed to protect food-allergic and celiac patients from having to decipher ingredient labels through sometimes-harmful trial and error efforts. The law, which requires the top eight allergens to be clearly listed on ingredient statements, did not require disclosure of barley or rye, the other grains that are toxic to those with celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities. The 2004 mandate for the FDA to develop and implement gluten-free food labeling requirements would fill that void.
The 1in133 event is the brainchild of Jules Shepard noted gluten-free author, baking expert and celiac community advocate, and John Forberger, a winning gluten-free triathlete and active blogger. Event sponsors include Whole Foods Market, The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, Glutino Foods, Bob’s Red Mill, and many others. Event coordination is contributed by Aaron E Flores, Executive Chef, Embassy Suites D.C. Convention Center.
Proceeds will benefit the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA), a non-profit volunteer organization that advocates for the needs of people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. The ACDA spearheaded the grassroots campaign which was instrumental to the passage of FALCPA.