Perrigo plans labeling effort for gluten-free

December 21, 2009
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ALLEGAN — Perrigo Co. will implement a labeling program to help consumers more clearly identify more than 200 of the company’s over-the-counter store-brand pharmaceuticals that are gluten-free, starting in January.

Previously, the only way a consumer could verify a pharmaceutical product as gluten-free was to call Perrigo directly. Now, consumers will be able to identify whether a Perrigo-supplied product is gluten-free simply by reading the product label.

Perrigo, according to a company statement, will be the first manufacturer to offer its customers the ability to place gluten-free statements on a wide range of over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.

The new initiative will include all of Perrigo’s best-selling categories, such as pain relievers, cold and allergy, and antacids. The company already has more than 200 dietary supplements that are part of a similar labeling program.

To support the gluten-free labeling initiative, Perrigo has instituted a gluten-free assurance program. Perrigo’s program is based on the acceptable thresholds of gluten (less than 20 parts per million) identified by the FDA for the food industry. It is comprised of a gluten testing methodology for raw materials and products, as well as ongoing quality assurance for ingredient and formula changes.

Perrigo initiated the labeling program specifically in response to an increasing market demand for gluten-free products. Questions from consumers regarding the gluten content of Perrigo-manufactured products have recently ranked among the company’s top call center inquiries.

“Our retail customers can continue to rely on Perrigo to pinpoint and act on consumer trends,” said Perrigo Chairman and CEO Joseph C. Papa. “This includes the growing list of individuals who need to know whether or not a product is gluten-free.”

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is estimated that in the United States, one in seven people have a gluten intolerance, and three million people suffer from celiac disease — when it is medically necessary to consume only food and medicines that are gluten-free.

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