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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Rapid Gluten Detection Test for Food Products Promises Better Product Labeling, Easier Gluten-Free Shopping

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 11/19/2008 - In a development that could benefit people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, a team of researchers based in Spain and the U.K. has developed a faster, easier way to test food products for the protein that triggers the adverse reactions associated with celiac disease.

    Such a rapid gluten detection test for food products could help millions of people avoid the indigestion, diarrhea, bloating, and other symptoms that arise when they accidentally consume foods that contain gluten.

    The research team was made up of Alex Fragoso, Ciara O'Sullivan and other colleagues, and their results will appear in the December 15 issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.

    Their development centers on the creation of a new sensor that detects antibodies to the protein gliadin, a component of the gluten found in wheat, rye, and barley. Laboratory tests showed that the new sensor is both highly accurate and far faster than the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which is the current standard test for gliadin. The new test can detect gliadin in amounts as small as the parts per billion range, while an ELISA test requires a full 8 hours to do the same thing.

    Avoiding gluten enables people with celiac disease to avoid symptoms commonly associated with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. However, since gluten can hide in so many seemingly safe foods, such as soy sauce, canned soups, and licorice candy, it can be difficult to know for certain whether foods are in fact free of gluten free. A number of prepared foods clearly list gluten ingredients on their labels, but spotting its presence can be challenging at best, and is often outright hit or miss.

    A rapid, highly accurate test that can reliably spot gluten in food products promises to make it easier for manufacturers to label their products, and for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance to avoid gluten and thereby enjoy better health.


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    Sounds like a very promising development, but I am a bit skeptical about exactly how the results will be used. It sounds to me like items passing the test are fine for typical Celiacs, but what about those who have other gluten problems? And what about the presence of things like oats to which some are very sensitive?

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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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