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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Commercial Gluten-Free Food Compliance is Improving, But Contamination Still Too High

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Gluten-free compliance in commercial food businesses has improved steadily since the first surveys in 2014, now at about 10%.

    Caption: Image: CC--Paul VanDerWerf

    Celiac.com 06/04/2018 - Rates of contamination in commercial food advertised as gluten-free are improving, but nearly one in ten still show unacceptable levels of gluten. As part of a government mandated food sampling program, the city of Melbourne, Australia recently conducted a survey of 127 food businesses advertising gluten-free options. 

    For the tests, government officers conduct unannounced site visits and take a sample of at least one food item declared to be gluten-free.  Ridascreen Gliadin R5 ELISA analysis showed that 14 of 158 samples (9%) contained detectable gluten in excess of the official Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) definition of gluten-free.

    Nine of the 14 samples (6% overall) registered gluten above 20 parts per million, which exceeds the official threshold for foods labeled gluten-free in Europe and the United States. At one business, food labeled gluten-free registered above 80 ppm, even though they were asked directly for a gluten-free sample. These findings confirm the lack of understanding reported by many people with celiac disease.

    The good news is that rates of gluten non-compliance has improved over earlier audits, from 20% of samples in 2014 to 15% of samples in 2015. The survey team notes that one-third of the businesses in this study had previously been audited) and education seems to be paying off. 

    In one burger chain alone, four of five venues which were non-compliant in 2014, were fully compliant in 2015 and 2016.  The survey results showed that businesses that provided gluten-free training for staff showed 75% better odds of compliance. The overall good news here is that gluten-free compliance in commercial food businesses has improved steadily since the first surveys in 2014.

    One in ten odds of getting gluten contamination from food labeled gluten-free is still to high, but even though there is room for improvement more and more businesses are providing gluten-free training for their staff, and those that do are reaping benefits. Look for this trend to continue as more businesses offer training, gluten-free and celiac disease awareness increases, and more consumers demand safe gluten-free foods.

    Read more at: The Medical Journal of Australia

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    Many products which are "gluten free" contain xanthan gum as a thickener and xanthan gum is a dried and powdered bacteria or fungus that is often grown on wheat!!! Foods with xanthan gum always give me a stomach ache. Doesnt anyone research this stuff before using it in gluten free products??!!

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    Xanthan Gum can be “fed”  with wheat, but it is fermented and gluten (whether from wheat, corn, etc.) should not be in the final product.  However, some people react (allergies or intolerances) like me, so I have to avoid it.  




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    4 hours ago, RMJ said:

    I contacted a manufacturer of xanthan gum (LorAnn) and was told theirs is wheat based.  Other manufacturers may be different.  


    Disturbing all their extracts and emulations are labeled gluten free.....and none set off gluten testers.

    The gum is in their emulsions I see...I avoid those myself, but has me a bit more cautious of their extracts. I see it in their flavor syrups to....they are labeled gluten free, and Just tested the butter pecan, one and it came back negative for gluten.

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    2 hours ago, RMJ said:

    My exact question to them was asking if it was grown on wheat or corn.  Their answer was that it was “wheat based”.  

    I believe you.  I did some quick research and not much was revealed.  In theory, even if grown using wheat (or wheat based) the end product should be fine.  If using Xanthan Gum or consuming products that use Xanthan Gum consider purchasing only certified gluten-free as it has been tested to meet gluten-free standards.  

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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