TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Megan Fulsom has struggled with Celiac Disease for years.
"Even if we aren't feeling the effects today, it can literally kill us," said Fulsom.
Three million Americans suffer with Celiac Disease.
"For people with celiac, it's very important they have gluten-free products because if they have gluten in their diet, their body attacks their intestines and they don't absorb nutrients properly, so it's vital for them to do that," said Sarah James, registered dietitian.
Until last week, a manufacturer could decide whether its product label would include the term 'gluten free.'
But new Food and Drug Administration rules will put pressure on manufacturers, based on gluten content.
What that means is a product can only be labeled gluten-free if it contains a trace amount.
20-parts per a million to be exact, the size of a bread crumb.
"So some people had an intolerance to gluten-free packaging…It's a great thing. So now anything that is labeled gluten-free will actually be less than that particular amount," said James.
It's a big deal for people who can't handle gluten.
"I have gotten sick actually three times from buying something that said it was gluten-free and it wasn't gluten-free. It had too much gluten in it," said Fulsom.
A consumer poll shows people buy gluten free because they feel it's a healthy choice. Some citing it's valid for weight-loss.
But James said it's just the opposite.
"Some gluten-free products are higher in calories. They end up gaining weight when they're doing gluten-free," she said. "Parents do this for their kids thinking it's beneficial to them, but unless they have an allergen, it's really not good because you're missing vital nutrients, iron, vitamin B."
Weight and vitamins aside, it's a move that will help Fulsom lead a healthier life.
"I think it's a really good step in the right direction. I'm excited about it," said Fulsom.
Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye.
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