The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently made a ruling to clarify the definition of gluten-free on product labeling and to create stricter rules to stop cross-contamination during production.
For Americans with mild to severe gluten allergies, greater regulation and clearer labeling will allow them to enjoy more foods without worrying about eating products that might cause an allergic reaction.
6% rise in jobs
According to the ISM report, the manufacturing employment index was at 54.4%, an increase of nearly 6% from June’s 48.7 reading.
Kristen Polovoy, a litigation lawyer with Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, speaks and writes frequently on the subject of consumer fraud and product-labeling class actions.
She agreed the FDA ruling will spark a surge in jobs within the industry because food manufacturers will need manufacturing and purchasing control personnel to ensure the end product meets the FDA definition and contains fewer than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
“The consuming public's ever-growing interest in gluten-free food suggests a steady demand for these products for the foreseeable future, meaning a steady demand for production and the resources necessary to meet it,” she said.
Eligible product lines
“Also, manufacturers will need counsel to determine whether their product lines are eligible to use the “gluten free” label in the first instance, since foods regulated by the USDA (e.g., meat, poultry, eggs) are not covered by the new FDA definition.”
Harrison Barnes, CEO, ManufacturingCrossing.com, a job search site based in California, US confirmed it has seen a rise in manufacturing production roles and employers were also looking for operators, supervisors, and technicians to help with day-to-day production at manufacturing sites.
He said while there is considerable demand at the moment, most of it was for workers with at least mid-level to senior experience. For job seekers with entry-level or no experience, some employers will accept training or certification at technical schools in lieu of meeting minimum experience requirements.
Heavy investment in products
“For manufacturers in the food industry, the opportunity to create and market new gluten-free product lines is promising. Many food manufacturers are investing heavily in creating new products, banking on the fact that gluten-free consumers will be a sizable and important market. Consequently, it has also led to the creation of a number of new jobs,” said Barnes.
“Any reading above 50% represents growth in the manufacturing sector, and this month’s index reading marked the second consecutive month of economic expansion.”
Polovoy added manufacturers will need legal counsel who are experienced in food labeling law to review their product labels as a whole from the “reasonable consumer perspective” to make certain that the language is not false, misleading or deceptive, because affixing a “gluten free” label does not exempt the product from compliance with other applicable laws, such as consumer protection statutes.
“Manufacturers will need personnel to coordinate communications among their legal, advertising and marketing departments to make certain that the “gluten free” label is, in fact, being used in manufacturing and labeling as outlined in the new FDA regulations,” she said.
“Therefore, the burgeoning product sales figures in the niche “gluten free” market may well run a parallel course with spikes in the jobs needed to bring those products to market under new FDA regulations.”