BY MADELEINE SCHWARTZ
For students at Manhattan College with food allergies, it has become a bit harder to eat on campus with a sense of complete confidence after a new act from the Food and Drug Administration has been put into effect.
All food vendors and providers had to comply to a labeling law issued by the FDA that specifically targets gluten-free products by August 5 of this year. According to the FDA, the term “gluten-free” is defined as something that either is “inherently gluten free or does not contain an ingredient that contains gluten”.
While this is a straightforward definition, the FDA has recently added to it by stating that if a product is labeled “gluten-free” it must have less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten in it.
This slight change in the definition of gluten-free has caused a complete shift in the way we eat in any of the dining halls on campus. The idea of falsely advertising that a product is gluten free has made Gourmet Dining Services, the food service at MC, rethink how they serve our food. In compliance with this new law, the gourmet dining staff including the campus nutritionist, Alexa McDonald, said they decided not to display any of the food ingredients in any dining facility on campus.
“With so many students in the dining hall at once, the possibility of cross contamination is too high to be able to label any food as strictly free of all sources of gluten,” McDonald said.
Sophomore Fiona Dunn follows a gluten-free diet and spoke positively of the new change. “I was worried initially when I was told that they wouldn’t be labeling for allergens,” Dunn said. “Now, I think it will turn into a positive thing because our dining services carries even more certified gluten-free foods that have not been cross contaminated.”
The non-labeling procedure affects not only the gluten-free students but also anyone else with a food allergy such as having a lactose intolerance or a nut allergy. The food service staff no longer has the ability to label an item as 100 percent gluten free, and therefore, there are no labels warning students of the presence of dairy or nuts either.
Junior Paige Hughes is allergic to tree nuts and said that she understands the new system, but that she will have to take extra precautions when eating in the dining halls.
“Because of my allergy, I’ve always been extra careful about what I eat,” she said. “The change stinks but I think everyone who has an allergy, including myself, would much rather be limited on food choices than eat something and risk an allergic reaction.”
The Gourmet Dining Staff shared that sentiment.
“As a team we decided that with a general concern for the student body, it would safest for everyone that we took away the labeling due to the high risk of cross contamination,” McDonald said.