Frito-Lay North America has begun a multiyear initiative to validate many of its snack products as gluten-free, with package labeling to follow.

Frito-Lay, gluten-free, gluten-free labeling, PepsiCo, gluten ingredients, celiac disease, National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Celiac Disease Foundation, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Kari Hecker Ryan, Danielle Dalheim, gluten-sensitive, snack products, salty snacks, Marilyn Geller, Alice Bast

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Frito-Lay plans gluten-free labeling

May 18th, 2012

PLANO, Texas – Frito-Lay North America has begun a multiyear initiative to validate many of its snack products as gluten-free, with package labeling to follow.

The PepsiCo division said Friday that many of the company's salty snacks, such as Lay's Classic potato chips and Fritos Original corn chips, are made from simple ingredients like corn or potatoes and therefore are naturally made without gluten ingredients.

Frito-Lay noted that it's not removing gluten from products but 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 Food and Drug Administration its Proposed Rule for Gluten Free Labeling (2007), the company said.

"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," stated Kari Hecker Ryan, group manager of nutrition science and regulatory affairs at Frito-Lay North America.

The gluten-free claim that Frito-Lay is adding to qualified products appears as a "GF" icon and/or a statement on the back of the bag, the company said, adding that changes to packaging are being phased in and may take some time. A link on Frito-Lay's website will provide updated information for identifying products qualified as gluten-free.

Frito-Lay is making the announcement during National Celiac Disease Awareness Month in May. 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. An estimated e 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.

Frito-Lay is partnering with the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to educate consumers and health professionals about gluten-free resources and options. Activities through Frito-Lay's partnerships will include development of educational content in English and Spanish and cross-promotion through social media channels.

"The work they do is so important to those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities as well as their support systems," stated Danielle Dalheim, associate principal nutrition scientist at Frito-Lay North America. "We know that these two organizations are the go-to resources for those who are on a medically prescribed gluten-free diet, and we are committed to supporting their missions."

Marilyn Geller, chief operating officer of the Celiac Disease Foundation, commented, "Frito-Lay will make label reading especially easy for gluten-sensitive consumers, as it is starts to include its own gluten-free symbol or claim on qualified snack products."

Alice Bast, president of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, noted that gluten-free grocery shopping can be stressful, especially for those newly diagnosed. "The transition to the gluten-free diet is easier when familiar brands already in the pantry make a gluten-free commitment," she explained. "Frito-Lay's effort to provide its customers with easy-to-access information is commendable, and we would like to see more national brands embrace this level of clarity."