Now that the FDA has defined what “gluten-free” means on food packages, what about “gluten-free” claims in advertising?
Does a “gluten-free” claim on a website or in an advertisement need to comply with the new regulation?
The short answer is “no,” since the FDA gluten-free regulation applies to food products, not to advertising. However, another government agency does regulate truth in advertising: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The following is from the FTC website: “When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence. The Federal Trade Commission enforces these truth-in-advertising laws, and it applies the same standards no matter where an ad appears – in newspapers and magazines, online, in the mail, or on billboards or buses.”
According to the FTC, if a consumer believes that an advertising claim is false or misleading, this should be reported to the FTC, and the agency may proceed to conduct an investigation. Although not specified, it is reasonable to expect that if the FTC were to investigate a “gluten-free” claim, the same standard for gluten-free would be used by the FTC as the FDA (< 20 ppm).