The Accuracy of Gluten Free Labels
The legal term of the phrase "gluten free" does vary from country to country, however current research is suggesting for people with celiac disease the maximum safe level of gluten in a finished product is probably less than 200 parts per million and possibly as little as 20 parts per million.
Certain standards only allow the "gluten-free" label to be used on foods with less than 5 parts per million of gluten, 5 parts per million being the smallest percentage that we are currently able to detect. The following ingredients are typical ingredients found in food that does contain gluten:
- Wheat Flour contains 80,000ppm
- Wheat Starch contains 200ppm
- Maltodextrin, Dextrin, Glucose Syrup all contain 5ppm
- Caramel Color has varying amounts of gluten depending on the processing method. It can still affect those with celiac and gluten intolerance.
Wheat flour contains almost 12% gluten; such a small number is still a very significant amount. Even the tiniest trace of wheat flour can cross-contaminate a product that is gluten-free. A certain degree of care must always be taken to avoid cross-contamination of foods.
Gluten-free diets rule out many of the normal foods that we are all used to eating on a regular basis. The foods in question span from ordinary breads and pastas to many convenience foods in our diets such as crackers, chips and cookies. Gluten rich foods are food that also use certain thickeners such as gravies, soups, and sauces thickened with rye, barley, wheat or other flour. Gluten hides in many of our favorite day to day food choices. More and more these days various gluten-free bakery and pasta products can be found in specialty retailers. Large chain grocers are now dedicating sections of their shelf space to gluten-free pruoucts. Gluten-free foods tend to cost more than non-gluten-free foods, due to the higher cost of production and contamination prevention.
Other unexpected sources of gluten are non-foodstuffs such as certain medications as well as vitamin supplements, mainly the ones available in tablet form, may contain gluten as a binding agent. People with gluten intolerances might require specialist compounding of their medication. There are also vitamins available without gluten, the package or label will have symbols indicating so, you may also see after any exclaimers the words "gluten free".