Harrisburg, PAJune 4, 2024 – Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti (D-Montgomery/Delaware) and Representative Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) today unveiled legislation to empower Pennsylvanians with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances with the knowledge they need to make the right choices for their health and wellness. The bills, introduced as companion legislation, are Senate Bills 1166 and 1167 and House Bills 2122 and 2120, which will require the proper labeling of food and medicine products containing gluten in Pennsylvania.

 “A Celiac diagnosis is an extraordinary challenge for any family, and not all families have the resources to afford or pay such close attention to living a gluten-free lifestyle,” said Senator Cappelletti (SD-17). “If enacted, these bills will make it much easier for Pennsylvanians with Celiac and gluten intolerances to discern what they can and cannot consume.”

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by consuming gluten and results in damage to the small intestine. Symptoms vary, but can include diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, brain fog, and more.

Representative Mary Jo Daley (HD-148) shared, “Currently, under federal law, only food products containing wheat must be labeling to identify its presence. However, gluten can be found in grains other than wheat, including barely, oats, and rye. So, without properly labeling all products that contain gluten, we are placing many of our fellow citizens at risk.”

An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has Celiac Disease. However, recent screening studies point to a potentially higher prevalence than 1% in the United States.

Over 87 countries across the globe already require labeling of gluten products, including the European Union, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

“Recurrent exposures to gluten may even increase your long-term risk of conditions like osteoporosis, anemia, and even certain cancers, like lymphoma,” said Dr. Arunjot Singh, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Co-Director at the Center for Celiac Disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “So, whether its food items at a grocery store or medication at the pharmacy, this is the daily stress that we see our families go through as they navigate a world where gluten-free labeling is inadequate.”

Beyond Celiac reports that 49% of people with Celiac Disease have sacrificed life experiences because of their gluten-free diet/Celiac Disease. Additionally, 49% of children with Celiac Disease exhibit anxiety, including social and seperation anxiety, physical symptoms, excessive worry, and pessimism.

“Whenever I go out to eat, my plans have to revolve around my [Celiac] disease and the ability for a server and kitchen staff to help keep me safe,” said Jen Statler a Pennsylvanian with Celiac Disease and the mother to an 11-year-old daughter with Celiac Disease. “Celiac can be very isolating and food jealousy is so real. The disease has had a profound, life-altering impact on me and my family.”

Watch the recording of the press conference here. Learn more about work Senator Cappelletti has done around Celiac Disease here.