Milwaukie-based Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods celebrated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s historic ruling this month on gluten-free product labeling, saying it made life safer and simpler for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.

“We applaud the FDA for implementing its new gluten-free labeling guidelines,” said Bob Moore, founder, president and chief executive officer of the employee-owned company. “It’s encouraging to see these important standards put into place, and we’re celebrating with celiac sufferers and those with gluten sensitivities everywhere on this monumental milestone.”

The FDA’s new ruling defines what a gluten-free label on a food package means. The regulation states that products labeled “gluten free” must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. For more than 10 years, Bob’s Red Mill solidified its leadership role in the gluten-free arena by adhering, on its own accord, to a strict standard of less than 20 parts per million for all of its gluten-free products.

The term “gluten” refers to proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley and crossbred hybrids of these grains. In people with celiac disease, foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. Such damage limits the ability of patients to absorb nutrients and puts them at risk of other serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature and intestinal cancers.

“Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the key to treating celiac disease, which can be very disruptive to everyday life,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. “The FDA’s new ‘gluten-free’ definition will help people with this condition make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health.”

In 2005 Bob’s Red Mill was invited to testify before the FDA about its gluten-free manufacturing and product-labeling practices. The company also was the first to provide pure gluten-free oats to stores nationwide in unlimited quantities.

“Bob’s Red Mill has been a vocal advocate for safe, gluten-free standards, and we’re honored to have been a part of this process that began nearly a decade ago,” said Dennis Gilliam, vice president of sales and marketing for Bob’s Red Mill.

Offering more than 80 gluten-free flours, cereals, baking mixes and grains, all of the company’s gluten-free products are made in a dedicated 100 percent gluten-free facility. Its gluten-free products are batch-tested in a quality-control laboratory with an R5 ELISA Gluten Assay test to ensure the absence of gluten. Testing is performed again after packaging.

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