PepsiCo's Frito-Lay North America division announced a multi-year initiative to validate many of their products as gluten-free, with package labeling to follow. Since many of the company's snacks are made from corn or potatoes, they are made without gluten ingredients.
Frito-Lay is not removing gluten from products, rather, has developed a gluten-free validation process with input from the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) and the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) for testing ingredients and finished products to ensure they contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten before making a "gluten-free" claim. This level is in accordance with the limit set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in its Proposed Rule for Gluten-Free Labeling (2007).
May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder triggered by intolerance to gluten, a generic name for certain types of proteins contained in the common cereal grains wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives. It is one of the most common genetic autoimmune conditions in the world and often goes undiagnosed. It is estimated three million Americans have celiac disease and up to 21 million may have some level of gluten sensitivity. The only treatment is a lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet.
Activities through Frito-Lay's partnerships will include development of educational content in English and Spanish, and cross promotion through social media channels.
"We understand that living with gluten sensitivities can present some challenges, and when you or a loved one is diagnosed it can be overwhelming and confusing. We are doing our due diligence to ensure that our validated products comply with the proposed standards by testing ingredients and finished products, so the shopper can trust our gluten-free claim," says Kari Hecker Ryan, PhD, RD, group manager of nutrition science and regulatory affairs, Frito-Lay North America.
The gluten-free claim that Frito-Lay is adding to qualified products appears in the form of a "GF" icon and/or a statement on the back of the bag. Changes to packaging are being phased in and can take some time.
Frito-Lay's Web site offers an up-to-date resource to identify products qualified as gluten-free.