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FDA clears up label rules on what is really ‘gluten free’

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The Food and Drug Administration recently finalized the definition of the term “gluten-free” on food labels. All manufacturers that want to use the gluten-free wording on their products must adhere to strict guidelines.

According to the FDA, the term gluten-free now refers to foods that are either inherently gluten-free or foods that do not contain any ingredient that is:

• A gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt or wheat)

• Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour)

• Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million or more gluten in the food

Additionally, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.

The ruling benefits more than 3 million Americans with celiac disease, an immune reaction to gluten that damages the lining of the small intestine. The gluten-free ruling applies to all FDA-regulated foods and dietary supplements, but excludes foods whose labeling is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Manufacturers have one year to make package labels compliant. You can learn more about the ruling by going to the FDA’s website.

Adding green to
the golden years       

The recent economic recession has many people nervous about whether they have planned or are planning well enough for retirement. With life expectancies longer than ever, six out of 10 baby boomers fear outliving their retirement funds more than they fear dying.

Social Security is one source of retirement income, but should not be the only source. Currently, Social Security replaces about 40 percent of the average wage earner’s income, with higher income earners receiving less of a percentage of their income. To live comfortably during retirement, plan to replace 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income. There are several ways to build your retirement savings.

Track your current expenses. Determine whether they are “fixed” or “flexible.” Fixed expenses are usually monthly, non-negotiable expenses and include items such as rent, mortgage payments, utility costs and car payments. Flexible expenses are those over which you have more control and might include groceries, travel, eating out and entertainment expenses. Track them for at least a month. Identifying where your money goes will helpyour money goes will help you develop a realistic budget that can help you either save for or stretch your retirement dollars.

Whether you are planning for retirement or are already retired, consider ways to maximize your money. Depending on the amount of your assets, personal risk tolerance, retirement goals and anticipated length of retirement, you may consider a balanced financial portfolio that includes certificates of deposits, money market accounts, stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Before you invest, make sure you are comfortable with the risk and terms of the investment. Sometimes options for the largest returns result in some of the largest losses in principal. If you are close to retirement or retired, it will be harder to recover from a significant loss of principal.

More information on the different types of retirement investments is available in the Cooperative Extension Service publication “Maximizing Your Dollars in Retirement.” Copies are available at the Extension office. 

 

Grace Angotti is Carroll Co. Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to gangotti@uky.edu.