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  • Paul Smith
    Paul Smith

    Is it Gluten-free? Are you sure?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 05/04/2009 - Nowadays every type of food you can desire is available in a convenient form, ready to be popped into a microwave or an oven. This demand for convenience has caused grain consumption to escalate. If you think you don’t eat that much grain (and gluten), think again: much of the gluten that you consume is hidden - you don’t even know you're eating it!

    For example:

    • Food Manufactures add “vital gluten” (gluten that is specifically processed from high-gluten-contained wheat) to wheat flour to give it more binding power.
    • Gluten is used in the manufacturing of virtually all boxed, packaged and tinned processed foods to create textures that are more palatable to our taste buds, and are used as binders, thickeners and coatings.
    • Gluten is even used to make many commercial glues such as those used on envelopes and stamps.
    • Even if you were consuming the same amount of grains today as you did last year or 10 years ago, you would be ingesting more gluten. That’s because bio-engineers continually work to improve gluten and make it a larger and more potent part of edible grain. It is estimated that today’s wheat contains nearly 90 per cent more gluten than wheat did from a century ago.
    To get an idea of how much hidden gluten you might be consuming, take a walk down the aisles in your supermarket and stop to read the labels. You’ll find wheat, barley and / or rye in products like:
    • Barbecue sauce
    • Biscuits and cakes
    • Breaded fish, chicken and seafood
    • Bread - even potato bread and rice bread
    • Cereal
    • Couscous
    • Crackers
    • Potato crisps
    • Most frozen dinners
    • Pies and Pasties
    • Rice Mixes
    • Sauce and gravies
    • Some ice creams
    • Some salad dressings
    • Some soy sauces
    • Teriyaki sauce
    • Tinned and dried soups
    • And many, many more items!

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    'Gluten in envelope and stamp glue' That keeps popping up on the internet. I can't find any reliable source that confirms this. What I do find is information that says there is no gluten in these products.

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    The items mentioned above one can read on labels for the most part. There were a few that I was shocked at - apparently gluten is used in the manufacturing process and other such real items that one would not suspect.

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    Once you know all the ingredients that contain gluten, then it is a relatively easy task to avoid them.

     

    The problem I currently have, is when gluten is not listed as an ingredient, but has nevertheless contaminated the foods I want to eat.

     

    Just last month I bought a packet of polenta (ground maize) which gave me my typical itchy rash that I have come to associate with gluten exposure, yet nothing in the ingredients list contained gluten.

     

    You should also be careful about lip salve, because after application, the contents can be ingested. I was using one that contained Vitamin E (usually, but not always, derived from wheat). This also gave me my rash.

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    Guest Elizabeth Frey

    Posted

    Paul, thank you for posting this. The gluten contamination of our food supply is a problem that gets too little attention both in Australia (where I have gluten sensitive family members) and in the USA (where I live). It is almost impossible to avoid here in the USA because the FDA lists it on their GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe list) and it may be used in any phase of processing without being listed on the label. Buyers beware!! Even the waxy coating sometimes added to fresh fruits in produce departments may contain gluten. I have also found few vegetable oils whose manufacturers are willing to say have not been cross-contaminated from wheat products being processed on the same equipment. Dried fruit is often dusted with it to prevent sticking. It's uses are endless and, no doubt, of considerable benefit to manufacturers. However, the public health impact of all these hidden uses has (as far as I know) never been estimated.

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    Sorry - that gluten is in biscuits and cakes, breaded fish, chicken and seafood, bread, cereal and crackers is hardly a revelation. The article's title suggests that we are going to be given insight into foods generally thought to be safe.

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    Guest Lionel Mugema

    Posted

    Paul, Thank you for this. I live in East Africa. This has just made my problem even worse. Now, I know the cause of my constantly bloated tummy. It is practically impossible to get gluten-free foods this side of the continent. And it looks like, I am the only person with Celiac Disease here. Please help.

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    @#1 ( Anne) 'I can't find any reliable source that confirms this.'

    Anne, slightly disagree. I found cientifical basement on the book 'Is Gluten Making me ill?' by Dr. Shari Lieberman (edRodale - 2007 ed - pg 9).

     

    #2 ( Susan Phipps)

    'The items mentioned above one can read on labels for the most part'

    As you said 'most of the time' but not ALL the time.

     

    #3 ( Colleen Shipman)

    Glad you liked the article

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    #4 ( JenCO)

    Sorry for hear you have these problems. Thanks for contributing to the article

     

    #5 ( Elizabeth Frey) - Thanks for your comment

    'Even the waxy coating sometimes added to fresh fruits in produce departments may contain gluten' is new for me. Thanks

     

    #6 ( David)

    David it was not my intention to mislead. However you need to remember no everyone is that clear (you can see most of the comments say 'thanks - I dint' know that', as example Mr Lionel's comment just below yours.

    Anyway, I'm sorry if my article was too basic for you.

     

    #7 ( Lionel Mugema)

    Thanks for your comment, I'm glad you could learn something from this article.

     

    #8 ( Cherie) you are welcomed, thanks for your comment.

     

    Paul

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    Thanks Paul! I get sick when I eat ANY amount of ground grains whether they say 'gluten free' or not. No gluten-free pancakes for me, thank you very much.

     

    My food intake is very basic: rice, milk, eggs, nut butters, vegetables. Thanks to the loose labeling laws in the United States, I have to watch out for vegetables too?!? This is ridiculous.

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    Guest Benevolent Kitchen

    Posted

    I am posting a question as I cannot find how to contact you directly. You post a lot of science sounding information but I don't see any citations -- where are you getting this information? To make such glaring statements without support can be dangerous to peoples health. Please, as with most reliable research, let us advocate for our health by providing links to the studies you quote.

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  • About Me

    I am 60 years old. An Architect and Landscape Architect by training, graduating in both in 1974. I have an MBA (Master of Business Administration Degree) from Melbourne University in 1990. My family have owned FG Roberts (a gluten free/soy products factory in Melbourne Australia) for 54 years. I have been employed by the company full time since 1980 in various technical, management, operational, product development, research and marketing roles. My Web site is: www.glutenfreehealth.net

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