The US Food and Drug Administration proposed a new rule that would establish requirements for fermented, hydrolyzed or distilled foods that wish to carry the “gluten-free” claim on their label.

Under FDA’s rules, food products are not required to carry a “gluten-free” claim. However, if manufacturers of these foods choose to use this language on their labels, they must ensure their products meet the definition of the gluten-free final rule issued by FDA in 2013.

The proposed rule, titled “Gluten-Free Labeling of Fermented or Hydrolyzed Foods,” pertains to foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, green olives, vinegar, and FDA regulated beers.

The gluten-free final rule addressed the uncertainty in interpreting the results of current gluten test methods for fermented and hydrolyzed foods in terms of intact gluten.  Due to this uncertainty, the FDA has issued this proposed rule to provide alternative means for the agency to verify compliance for fermented or hydrolyzed foods labeled “gluten-free” based on records that are made and kept by the manufacturer.

The proposed rule, when finalized, would require these manufacturers to make and keep records demonstrating assurance that:

-The food meets the requirements of the gluten-free food labeling final rule prior to fermentation or hydrolysis, and

-The manufacturer has adequately evaluated its process for any potential gluten cross-contact, and

-Where a potential for gluten cross-contact has been identified, the manufacturer has implemented measures to prevent the introduction of gluten into the food during the manufacturing process.

The FDA is accepting public comments beginning Wednesday, November 18. To electronically submit comments to the docket, visit and type docket number “FDA-2014-N-1021” in the search box.