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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    In the USA Over 20% of Foods Labeled "Gluten-free" Could Contain Too Much Gluten

    Celiac.com 12/05/2014 - To remain healthy, people with serious gluten intolerance, especially people with celiac disease, must avoid foods containing gluten from wheat, barley, and rye. Accordingly, gluten detection is of high interest for the food safety of celiac patients.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons--SieBotThe FDA recently approved guidelines mandating that all products labeled as “gluten-free” contain less than 20ppm (20mg/kg) of gluten, but just how do products labeled as “gluten-free” actually measure up to this standard?

    Researchers H.J. Lee, Z. Anderson, and D. Ryu recently set outto assess the concentrations of gluten in foods labeled "gluten free" available in the United States. For their study, they collected seventy-eight samples of foods labeled “gluten-free,” and analyzed the samples using a gliadin competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. They then calculated gluten content based on the assumption of the same ratio between gliadin and glutenin, testing gluten levels down to 10ppm (10mg/kg).

    They found that forty-eight (61.5%) of the 78 samples labeled gluten-free contained less than 10ppm (10 mg/kg) gluten. Another 14 (17.9%) of the 78 samples contained less than 20ppm (20mg/kg) gluten, in accordance with the guidelines established by the Codex Alimentarius for gluten-free labeling.

    However, 16 samples, over 20%, contained gluten levels above 20 mg/kg, ranging from 20.3 to as high as 60.3 mg/kg. Breakfast cereal was the main culprit, with five of eight breakfast cereal samples showing gluten contents above 20ppm (20 mg/kg).

    The study does not name specific brands tested, nor do they indicate whether tested brands are themselves monitored by independent labs. Still, the results, while generally encouraging, show that more progress is needed to make sure that all products labeled as “gluten-free” meet the FDA guidelines. Until that time, it’s a matter of “caveat emptor,” or “buyer beware,” for consumers of gluten-free foods.


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    The article that you used to write your article doesn't help us celiacs much if they don't tell us which brands were tested and give us their scores. It actually makes it worse, because now we are left to worry that SOME brands can hurt us, but they won't tell us which ones even though they know!

    If they are giving us food containing 3 times the gluten that they say, then why not share your info?

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    Thanks for this article. Not a shock, but disturbing none the less. It would be helpful to know which of the products tested were labeled with the "certified gluten free" label/symbol versus just labeled as "gluten free" or just "contains no gluten ingredients". I'm always on the lookout for items that say they were manufactured in a facility that also processes items containing wheat. But I know that doesn't necessarily rule out facilities that process oats, barley, rye, spelt, etc. Label reading is the best thing we can do and we have to out so much trust. I wish there would be a simple, inexpensive home test to test foods ourselves (in addition to proper labeling). Maybe some day.

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    If a gluten FREE product "contains less than 20 ppm" of gluten then how is it "gluten FREE"?? A person with celiac disease is INTOLERANT of ANY gluten no matter the measure of ppms!! I am a celiac patient and I have recently tried some "Gluten Free" crackers. It was after I felt a little rumbly in my tummy (signs of a gluten attack) I read the ingredients on the side panel of the box. It was much to my surprise that it contained less than 20 ppms of gluten!! WHAT??!!! PLUS, it was manufactured on equipment that also processes WHEAT!! So it's not gluten FREE is it?? I am appalled that the FDA will allow for a company to label a product "GLUTEN FREE" when in fact it is NOT!! Needless to say, I became ill after consuming the "gluten free" crackers. Thanks a lot FDA and thanks to the company (I won't name them) for selling me a "gluten free" cracker and charging me as such!! This has to be stopped!!

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    I've had gluten reactions to rice cakes labeled gluten free. I found out from the company, that all of their rice cakes are processed on the same lines. Some of the varieties contain ingredients derived from food crops that are likely to be cross-contaminated during growing, harvest, storage, processing, etc. My complaints to the company were ignored.

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    Guest Linda Vanderhyde

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    Very helpful. I've been having gluten issues lately and couldn't figure out why. Perhaps it was the Chex mix. I never would have thought of it because I made the mix myself with supposedly gluten-free cereal.

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    I have suffered celiac for years. I missed my pizza, bread and pasta. But now I can have the real stuff. Sourdough bread (the starter fermented over 3 days) White flour from Italy and pasta from Italy. I can eat all this with no ill effect. Yeah!!! The longer the fermentation the less gluten in the sourdough. So give it a try, and good luck

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    Kilogram? Who eats a kilogram of anything, at least at one sitting. Gluten per 100 grams is realistic, as that is 3 ½ ounces, a reasonable serving.

    Let's turn this into beer, say Omission, a gluten-reduced beer through enzyme process. At 20 parts per million for a 355 milliliter bottle of the stuff, one would be ingesting 7 milligrams of gluten. Omission posts its test results for every batch, and it's been significantly below this when I've looked, but still, I got sick about three slugs into the second bottle.

    Check my arithmetic, please.

    For any 3 ⅓ oz serving of supposedly gluten-free comestible, one may be getting a 7 milligram dose of gluten, big enough to send you to the toilet.

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    I have suffered celiac for years. I missed my pizza, bread and pasta. But now I can have the real stuff. Sourdough bread (the starter fermented over 3 days) White flour from Italy and pasta from Italy. I can eat all this with no ill effect. Yeah!!! The longer the fermentation the less gluten in the sourdough. So give it a try, and good luck

    I would not recommend that anyone knowingly eat such a product when there are so many alternatives available.

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    The article that you used to write your article doesn't help us celiacs much if they don't tell us which brands were tested and give us their scores. It actually makes it worse, because now we are left to worry that SOME brands can hurt us, but they won't tell us which ones even though they know!

    If they are giving us food containing 3 times the gluten that they say, then why not share your info?

    Yes, naming brands would certainly be helpful for people with celiac disease. However, the researchers likely omitted that information to avoid potential legal issues with the companies whose products they tested.

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    If a gluten FREE product "contains less than 20 ppm" of gluten then how is it "gluten FREE"?? A person with celiac disease is INTOLERANT of ANY gluten no matter the measure of ppms!! I am a celiac patient and I have recently tried some "Gluten Free" crackers. It was after I felt a little rumbly in my tummy (signs of a gluten attack) I read the ingredients on the side panel of the box. It was much to my surprise that it contained less than 20 ppms of gluten!! WHAT??!!! PLUS, it was manufactured on equipment that also processes WHEAT!! So it's not gluten FREE is it?? I am appalled that the FDA will allow for a company to label a product "GLUTEN FREE" when in fact it is NOT!! Needless to say, I became ill after consuming the "gluten free" crackers. Thanks a lot FDA and thanks to the company (I won't name them) for selling me a "gluten free" cracker and charging me as such!! This has to be stopped!!

    The fact is that the vast majority of people with celiac disease do not react to gluten levels below 20ppm. Also, the test currently used to test products are not sensitive enough to give accurate results below 20ppm, and they become less accurate the closer to zero they get. Taken together, these are a significant part of why the standard is set at 20ppm. Lastly, the FDA standard is the same as the European standard.

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    I agree with the above comments about not telling us what cereal!

    I know I have bought Walmart's gluten free version of Hamburger Helper and it gave me a gluten reaction.

    Interestingly, Wegman's pulled some of their gluten free products after the FDA standard came out.

    I don't think the FDA standard has helped those of use with celiac!

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams 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 biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as 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.

  • Related Articles

    Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.
    This article appeared in the Autumn 2007 edition of Celiac.com's Scott-Free Newsletter.
    Celiac.com 03/10/2008 - Virtually every parent and every professional person who works with children wants to see them learn, grow, and achieve to the greatest extent of their potential.  The vast majority of these caregivers know that nutrition plays an enormous role in each child’s realizing their potential.  Unfortunately, that is where agreement ends.  There are almost as many perspectives on what constitutes a healthy diet as there are people on this planet.  Some claim that the healthiest diet is that of a vegetarian which almost invariably leads to a heavy reliance on grains and which is devoid of vitamin B12.  Others assert, based on cardiovascular disease being our number one killer that the best diet includes the smallest amount of fats.  They believe that fat consumption is related to blood cholesterol levels and that blood cholesterol levels are the best predictor of heart attacks.  Yet low cholesterol has been linked to increased cancer risk.  Still others argue for the health benefits conferred by a high protein diet.  They point out the importance of proteins in providing the building blocks for immune system function and the body’s maintenance and repair at the cellular level.  A small but growing faction points to the health benefits of a diet dominated by fats with little or no carbohydrate content.  Other diets target refined sugars and flours as problematic.  Added to this diversity, there is a plethora of dietary perspectives that advocate rigid proportions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.  The proportions of each component vary according to the data that is given the most credence by the creators and advocates of each diet.  Many dietary rituals have grown up around cancer avoidance or therapy, weight loss strategies, treatments for cardiovascular disease or its avoidance, and autoimmune diseases.  Book, video tape, audio tape, menu guides, and other media sales are just a starting point.  Some advocates of specific dietary strategies are even selling special foods that comply with their recommendations.  The profit motive can be a powerful factor in creating bias.  Then there are the government sponsored healthy eating guides.  Of course, each paradigm assumes that one diet can be recommended for all people.  The USDA has recently devised recommendations that do make concessions to gender and stage-of-life (with separate recommendations for children, adults, and seniors) but even with these changes, the USDA provides a clear message advocating plenty of grains and little fat.  It is difficult to determine just how much these recommendations have been influenced by special interest lobbies.  Agricultural and food production corporations have made astronomical investments in current dietary practices and shaping new dietary trends.  Is it reasonable to expect them to be responsive to evolving research findings?  
    Those of us who have experienced the painful shock that we were ill, sometimes deathly ill, from grain proteins that come highly recommended by government food guides, have had to revise our views of healthy eating and reject such flawed guidance.  Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease often crop up in the context of what many health care professionals tout as a healthy diet.  Prior to my own diagnosis of celiac disease, I remember one physician recommending that I eat bran every morning to reverse some of the gastrointestinal problems I was having.  He would not believe that eating bran made me vomit.  There is a persistent sense that we should all know what constitutes a good diet.  Almost every one of us who have to avoid gluten knows that avoiding it is a healthy choice for us, irrespective of government or private sector recommendations for healthy eating.  We have learned not to trust these prescriptions filled with certitude and rigidity.  We have found new-found health in eating habits that are diametrically opposed to those recommendations.
     
    Thus, many of us will have a very different view of conventional dietary wisdom.  For instance, Dr. Eve Roberts, a scientist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, was quoted on Monday, September 24th in the Victoria Times Colonist as saying: “I do not want children to grow up with liver disease because we forgot to tell them how to eat” (1).  I’m sure that same attitude abounds throughout the medical profession.  Unfortunately, despite the overwhelming consensus that children should not suffer such diet-induced illnesses, there is little agreement on exactly what we should be telling children (or adults for that matter) to help them avoid fatty liver disease.  The medical literature provides research reports of several contradictions on this point. 
    In fact, contradictions abound throughout the medical literature.  So how are we to choose a healthy diet? What can we teach our children about eating well? For those of us who are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease, gluten avoidance is a given.  For our children, the answer is less clear.  They will be at greater risk of having celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but what should we teach them about these grains? Should they avoid gluten entirely? Should they eat normally until they become ill—perhaps risking permanent neurological damage or a deadly cancer? Should they be constantly vigilant with regular blood tests, endoscopies, or IgG allergy testing?
    Many of us have been told to “just eat a balanced diet”.  It sounds appealing, but it is so vague as to provide little meaningful direction.  What is a healthy diet and how do we judge if any special interest group is more interested in health than profits? Just how much can we trust information that has a price tag attached to it? Somebody is profiting.  Can they really provide objective guidance? These questions should form part of our search for information.  There is nothing wrong with making a profit or earning a living from providing dietary advice.  However, it is important to be aware of any possible conflicts of interest.  
    For these reasons, I have developed my own strategy for determining what advice and guidance I can provide to my children and grandchildren.  I acknowledge that this approach is limited by my own biases, my finite capacity for assimilating and synthesizing information, my incomplete familiarity with nutritional research, and my own personal experiences.  On the other hand, I don’t have to worry about being directly influenced by profiteering or lobby groups diverting me from my primary purpose.
    On that basis, I have proceeded to explore my own dietary program.  I have conducted some trial-and-error experiments on myself, and I have read as extensively as my part-time avocation of dietary investigation permits.  From this, I have learned to trust my own gut.  If something doesn’t feel right in my stomach, I avoid it.  I have also learned to trust my sense of smell.  If a food does not smell appetizing to me, I don’t eat it.  I suspect that this is a tool that evolution has provided us with to determine what is and is not safe to eat.  Those without it probably stopped contributing to the human gene pool.  I have learned that IgG allergy testing is an effective tool with which I can reduce the lengthy trial-and-error process necessary for identifying the majority of allergies.  I realize that this testing has its weaknesses, but so does almost every other form of medical testing.  I have come to accept that as long as human beings are involved, we will have imperfect testing, regardless of claims to the contrary.  Finally, although I try to read critically, I read medical and scientific research reports to stay abreast of new findings and gain a better understanding of this complex field.
    The tentative conclusions I have reached, pending new information, are as follows:

    Gluten grains probably aren’t very good for people.  They are highly allergenic affecting at least 10% of the general population, and perhaps as much as 40%  of the population.  These grains also contain opioids morphine-like substances that can be highly addictive and have a deleterious effect on our ability to resist cancer.  They also contain large quantities of starch that is converted very rapidly into sugars. The evidence suggests that refined sugars and starchy foods cause many of our problems with obesity, vision problems due to growth related distortions of the eyeball, type II diabetes, and hypoglycemia.  Dairy products probably aren’t very good for anyone either.  They are also highly allergenic and contain opioids similar to those found in gluten.  Further, about two thirds of the world’s adult populations are lactose intolerant.  They don’t retain enzymes for digesting milk sugars after childhood. I think it is wise to avoid processed foods where possible.  The more they’ve been processed, the further they are from the state in which we evolved eating them. I believe it is a good idea to avoid eating soy because it has been linked to neurological diseases and other health problems that I don’t want to develop. I avoid foods to which IgG blood testing has shown to cause an immune reaction in me. I try to avoid juices, as these are mostly sugar.  Those are the things I try to avoid.  On a more positive note, there are several specific strategies that I try to follow:
    I take supplements of vitamins and minerals which evidence has shown that I either absorb poorly or have been depleted from the soils in which my food is grown. I try to eat whole fruits and vegetables. I try to eat when I am hungry—not according somebody else’s idea of appropriate mealtimes. If I am ever diagnosed with cancer, I will follow a ketogenic diet.  That is a diet that is dominated by fats, includes about 30% protein, and includes no carbohydrates.  I have tried this diet for about a month.  I can’t say that I enjoy it very much, but I’d be happy to forego the pleasure of carbohydrates if my life is at stake.
    I’m very grateful to my wife who works very hard at finding tasty treats so I don’t have to feel isolated or deprived in social situations where food is consumed.
    I’m convinced that even a little exercise is a critical feature of a well balanced diet, but that belongs in another column.
    I realize that these strategies are often impractical and I don’t pretend to live up to all of them, except for gluten and dairy avoidance.  I also suspect that I would be better off if I ate organic fruits and vegetables along with range fed meat.  I also suspect that I should avoid any genetically modified food.  We really don’t know what’s in that stuff! I haven’t reached the point yet where I am sufficiently motivated to change my diet to that extent, although I do realize that it would probably be a good idea.  I am convinced that Dr. Barry Sears is onto something when he advocates specific proportions of each food type for optimal health and performance.  Unfortunately, my diet is already complex enough that without some specific and highly motivating reason, I’m just too busy or lazy to be bothered with measuring such things.  I just let my taste buds and availability (my wife only cooks one cake at a time) determine my portion sizes.This is the balanced diet I recommend.  I sorely doubt that my children or my grandchildren follow my advice, except when they visit during mealtimes.  However I am confident that such a diet, should they choose to accept it, will not cause them to self-destruct due to dietary disease.


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 06/18/2012 - Following US approval (SA GRAS) of its natural potato protein isolates, Dutch ingredients firm Solanic is touting their protein as a way for manufacturers to craft higher quality gluten-free baked goods. The protein is approved at levels of .01 to 10% in manufactured baked goods.
    The product is designed to create softer breads that will stay fresh longer, and which look and feel much more like regular wheat-based breads. According to Solanic manager for gluten-free, Paul Hart, the protein could bring the shelf-life for gluten-free bread products up to one-week.
    The company also claims that their protein also boasts a favorable amino acid profile that may help boost the nutritional value of products in which it is included.
    Solanic's protein isolates have been on the European market since 2008 and in the US market since 2009.
    The company is working to develop a gluten-free bread prototype by October 2012, and to develop cake prototypes thereafter.
    Stay tuned to see if the company's efforts help to put better gluten-free baked goods on store shelves in the near future.
    Source:
    http://www.bakeryandsnacks.com/Formulation/Gluten-free-bakery-potential-for-Solanic-s-potato-protein-isolates-after-SA-GRAS-approval

    Scott Adams
    Celiac.com 02/02/2015 - On December 9th, 2014, Anna Marie Phillips filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court against P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc., headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, for discrimination and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit claims that P.F. Chang's forces people with celiac disease to pay higher prices for gluten-free versions of their menu items. According to the complaint, P.F. Chang's charges one extra dollar per gluten-free item, however, they do not add these surcharges on to their regular menu items.
    The lawsuit is seeking class action status, and claims that over the past four years more than 3,000 people in 39 states have been affected at P.F. Chang's 204 restaurants. The plaintiff claims that the gluten-free diet is medically necessary for those with celiac disease, and those who eat at P.F. Chang's are forced to pay higher prices for gluten-free dishes, even if the dishes they order are naturally gluten-free. The plaintiff asserts that this arbitrary and unequal treatment constitues discrimination against consumers who have celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and that the added surcharge is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    In the lawsuit Ms. Phillips and her attorneys, Anthony J. Orshansky and Justin Kachadoorian of Counselone, P.C. in Beverly Hills, California, seek an immediate injunction against any further surcharges on gluten-free items, civil penalties, compensatory damages and punitive damages. P.F. Chang's is represented by Jon P. Karbassakis and Michael K. Grimaldi of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, in Los Angeles, California.
    On January 23, 2015, P.F. Chang's removed the case to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (case number 5:15-cv-00344).
    Source:
    legalnewsline.com

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 05/15/2015 - People with celiac disease need to maintain constant vigilance against gluten-exposure. Even those celiacs who avoid gluten need to be on guard against nutritional deficiencies, and to check with their doctor when taking certain drugs.
    Here are five important things to remember about celiac disease:
    Tiny Amounts of Gluten Trigger Big Reactions
    For people with celiac disease, exposure to as little as 30 to 50 mg of gluten (about 1/50th the size of a slice of bread) on any given day can trigger damage to the mucosal lining of the small intestine. Nutritional Deficiencies are Common
    Many people with celiac disease, even those who avoid gluten, suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Doctors recommend that people with celiac disease be monitored regularly for nutritional deficiencies, especially vitamins A, D, E, and B12, carotene, copper, iron, folic acid, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Doctors recommend vitamin and mineral supplementation, as needed. Bone Loss and Weakness are Common
    People with celiac disease should receive regular screening for osteopenia or osteoporosis. If needed, they should receive calcium supplements to ensure that they are getting the recommended dietary allowance for calcium. Nutritional and Drug Malabsorption are Common
    Gluten reactions cause inflammation in the small-intestine and, over time, damage that decreases absorption of common dietary nutrients, and likely promotes malabsorption of oral drugs or medicines, as well. That’s why it’s important for people with celiac disease to be monitored for proper drug and nutritional levels, and to receive supplements as needed. Celiac Disease Can Impair the Effectiveness of Certain Drugs
    Based on their molecular properties, drugs currently under investigation for their absorption characteristics in gluten sensitivity include acetaminophen, aspirin, indomethacin, levothyroxine, prednisolone, propranolol, and certain antibiotics. Please check with your doctor before taking any of these drugs.

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    And he needs to be super strict in his gluten free diet! SUPER strict, not just low gluten. No cross contamination, NONE.  I am so sorry, there are no short cuts with the testing. It flat out sucks but there you have it.  Welcome to the forum!
    Hi TDZ, My understanding is the same, a full gluten challenge is needed for the DH diagnosis.  The method the use for DH is to take a skin biopsy from next to a lesion, not on it.  They check the biopsy for IgA antibodies. I don't know of any way to shortcut the process and avoid eating gluten to get tested.  There may be a test some  day that doesn't require it, but for now I don't think there are any out there. One thing he might not have tried is avoiding iodine.  Some of the m
    Hello, new here and new to the whole thing! My husband has been battling this rash and assorted digestive issues for years. He was diagnosed with contact dermatitis by the dermatologist, had some steroid injections and various creams over the last couple of years, and then in November he went to the ER and they said eczema and gave him steroid pills. This was after a huge bloom that pretty much hit him from head to toe, where it had been mostly arms and legs before. He finally concluded he
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