A sentence that I frequently see online – “X food made me sick, so I don’t buy it anymore.” Whenever there’s a discussion about a certain “gluten free” cereal (emphasis on the quotes), I see many, many people asserting this statement. Or I hear about people who find a “gluten free” product at the grocery store, but upon seeing wheat listed in the ingredients, they decide to simply not buy it. When I ask these individuals if they reported their illness/the sketchy product to the FDA, everyone has been surprised that it’s even an option. Voting with your dollars is great, but we have to do more if we want change to happen.
I’ll admit, talking on the phone is not my preferred method of communication. I’m much more comfortable with written or in-person correspondence. However, I’ve contacted the FDA several times about dangerous foods, and it couldn’t be easier. It takes five minutes, and the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator walked me through it.
What kinds of foods can you report to the FDA?
- Foods that gave you an adverse reaction.
- Foods that are facially misbranded – the packaging has a gluten free claim yet the ingredients list displays a gluten-containing ingredient prohibited by the FDA for this claim. An example of facial misbranding is a product that contains wheat-based soy sauce, yet the front of the packaging says “gluten free.”
Things to keep in mind:
- The FDA considers “gluten free,” “without gluten,” “no gluten,” and “free of gluten,” to be similar claims.
- “Made in the same facility as wheat” or “made on the same equipment as wheat” are legal. They are also optional statements. Manufacturers are not required to disclose these.
- Foods that produce a “gluten found” result with the Nima Sensor may contain less than 20ppm.
What will you need?
- Five minutes
- It’s helpful if you have the packaging information (though you can still call without it). The representative on the phone will likely ask you for specific labeling/date information.
- This handy website which will help you find your Consumer Complaint Coordinator by state:
This is an easy way to help the community. I urge you to report dangerous products. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or aren’t sure if a specific product is facially misbranded.