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Gluten-Free Boom Presents Opportunities for Retailers--Gluten Intolerance is 10 Times Higher Than Expected

Celiac.com 02/25/2005 - Move over low-carb and sugar-free! New research shows that the need for a gluten-free diet is 10 times higher than experts originally predicted. Retailers should prepare to meet the needs of this growing niche, say two experts on the gluten-free diet.

This is the message that Shelley Case, RD and Carol Fenster, Ph.D. will bring to retailers at the Natural Products Expo West trade show on March 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Case is a dietitian who counsels gluten-free patients and is the author of Gluten-Free Diet, www.glutenfreediet.ca. Fenster is a chef who develops gluten-free products for manufacturers and is the author of Gluten-Free 101, www.glutenfree101.com.

This diet is not a fad, they explain, but a medically prescribed avoidance of gluten which is a protein in wheat that is toxic for some people. The two experts will help retailers understand the medical necessity of the gluten-free diet and how stores can stock their shelves and market effectively to gluten-free consumers.

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"Food manufacturers are responding to the need for gluten-free products. According to the Natural Foods Merchandiser, the number of gluten-free products jumped 88% between 2002 and 2003," says Fenster, who has been gluten-free for 15 years. Total food dollars spent on allergies and intolerances––gluten-free products are a part of this––will rise to nearly $4 billion by 2008, she adds.

People who need gluten-free diets are those with allergies or intolerances to wheat or related grains such as barley, rye, spelt, and possibly oats. Nearly 3 million Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune form of gluten intolerance in which gluten damages the ability to absorb nutrients. The condition can be fatal if not treated with a gluten-free diet.

"There is no magic pill or surgery for gluten intolerance," says Case, who has been counseling gluten-free patients for 20 years. "The only treatment is total avoidance of gluten for the rest of ones life. This makes the gluten-free consumer a repeat buyer––and very attractive to retailers."

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Just watch out. I just went to the expo in Schaumburg, IL, and ended up getting glutened. I realized afterward that I ate all these samples thinking they were gluten free, and they weren't. One company was advertising some sugar, and had made some cake, but then I realized.... How do I know if this contains any other ingredients that might have gluten? Did they make it with a blender or utensils that had gluten contamination? Makes me realize the only safe things would be packaged giveaways with gluten free labeling. My fault for not thinking things through. It was just too exciting thinking i could try it all and enjoy without worry.

No fasting required for a celiac blood test unless they were checking your blood glucose levels during the same blood draw.

I wish! I got the flu this winter as well as a couple of colds. I do have 3 lids, the youngest in preschool, so there's always a lot of germs around. Lol

Hey again ? It's a start, but I so wish they'd done the whole panel. Some of us, myself included, test negative to the TTG-IgA. I was positive on the DGP only. I wonder if your insurance will only cover those 2? Regardless, get them done as soon as you can! Do you have a walk in lab where you live? If so, go tomorrow. Then you'll be a step closer to getting answers. Good luck and keep us posted!

I totally agree...this board is awesome! The people on here have been there for me through everything and it has helped so much! I don't think antihistamines would affect the test at all. I take an antihistamine daily as well for horrendous allergies.