ingredient label only tells part of the story! You should know that
there IS gluten contamination in supposedly gluten-free food. To
minimize your risk, read Best
Bets for Avoiding Cross-Contamination.
is an interesting blog
post and video by Kinnikinnick, a major dedicated gluten-free
manufacturer, about contaminated equipment.
very few test results are published, here are some of the publicly
Contamination of Grains, Seeds, and Flours in the United States:
a pilot study
Plus, two interesting blog posts by the author of the above article
with more explanation: Part
a paper by Collin,
et al 17 of 59 (29%) products labeled "gluten-free"
contained levels from 10 to 200 ppm gluten. The tested items were
the most commonly-used European GF products and were not
made with wheat starch.
study by Lardizabal
showed similar results in American products.
the process of validating a new test for gluten in foods, Valdes
tested 3,088 "gluten-free" foods, commercially available
in Europe. They found that fifty-five percent of the samples contained
detectable gluten (>3.2 ppm). Thirty-five percent of these "GF"
foods contained more than 20 ppm; ten percent contained more than
100 ppm; and six percent contained more than 200 ppm. These results
are not directly applicable to American GF products because the
"gluten-free" products tested in this study were purchased
commercially from European countries. Codex Alimentarius wheat starch
is often used in "gluten-free" products in Europe (but
not the U.S.), so this is the source of some of the contamination.
Unfortunately they did not break down the results by wheat-starch
vs. non-wheat-starch-containing products.
Grains Labeled Organic Likely Gluten-Free? (Answer: no)
quote describes the situation in the U.S.:
a number of products on the market claim to be "gluten-free,"
there is no legal standard for such labeling, and testing for the
presence of gluten is not required to make the gluten-free claim.
Marketers of gluten-free products may base the claim on the presumption
that, since ingredients in the product do not contain gluten, the
product is gluten-free. However, consumers sensitive to gluten should
be mindful that "gluten-free" products made in equipment
and/or facilities that also make gluten-containing products can
contain gluten through cross contamination. Therefore, individuals
who are severely sensitive to gluten should confirm that so-called
"gluten-free" products are substantiated by tests showing
that gluten is not present in the product." (Message quoted
from a letter from Shaklee
Products, Celiac Listserv, Item #54914, 22 Sep 2004 14:20 - Calcium
FDA has proposed that products labeled "gluten-free" should
not contain more than 20 ppm gluten. This is still a proposal and
is not currently backed up by testing. In July, 2005, the FDA held
a meeting to discuss how to set thresholds for contamination in
gluten-free food. There were many interesting presentations by experts
in the field. The transcripts are available at:
The table of contents is on page 4.
slides that accompany these talks are at:
DeMarchi from the North American Miller's Association spoke at another
FDA meeting on Gluten-Free food labelling in August, 2005, explaining
the milling process and why oats (and possibly corn) obtained from
large mills are expected to be contaminated.
the transcript of her excellent talk.
to handle the problem of contamination?
with Celiac Disease needs to follow at least the standard GF diet, i.e., no ingredients containing gluten and
reasonable attempts to verify that foods prepared at home, commercial
products, and restaurant meals are not contaminated.
However, some find it necessary to go to the next
level of safety. This might include reducing or eliminating any
restaurant meals due to the strong potential for mistakes by the
restaurant staff. Beyond this, it may be necessary to eliminate
foods that are processed on equipment shared by gluten-containing
foods, or even in facilities that contain gluten, buying only from
dedicated gluten-free companies. Some eliminate processed foods
entirely, since there is no way to know which ones may be contaminated.
You may even need to avoid having any gluten in your home.
recommendations to help you make a full recovery from Celiac Disease