Gluten a common name for proteins found in wheat, rye and barley – which also means “glue” in Latin. Found commonly in breads, cereals, pastas and many other processed foods – gluten helps food keep their shape and structure by holding it together. While most people eat these foods without a problem, others may need to avoid them due to their sensitivity to these proteins. This sensitivity is commonly known as celiac disease, a medical condition which makes absorbing nutrients difficult; nutrients like protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health.
The growing display of products offered in grocery stores today can be a problem for consumers, especially people with celiac disease, as gluten prowls in many products. Going gluten-free is not just giving up the usual foods made with wheat, rye or barley, but may possibly include a range of other products from supplements – vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements – to foods in sauces like frozen vegetables to foods made with natural flavorings, soy sauces or medications and toothpaste.
Buying products certified gluten-free by third-party certification or auditing bodies’ ensures that the food you buy contains the theoretical harmless level of gluten, the level at which gluten is considered harmless to most people with celiac disease. Defined by the Codex Alimentarius international standard as 20 ppm (= 20 mg/kg) or less for labelling of food products carrying a gluten-free claim. Although regulations for the labelling of food as gluten-free vary by country, most countries use the Codex Alimentarius international standards. In Canada, foods containing levels of gluten not exceeding 20 ppm – as a result of contamination – meets the regulation for a gluten-free claim. Generally, foods labeled “gluten-free” are either naturally gluten-free or does not contain a gluten containing grain ingredient like spelt-wheat, or has not been processed to remove gluten e.g., wheat flour, wheat starch (Health Canada).
Finally, recognized testing methodologies are used to measure gluten levels, and buying certified gluten-free products guarantees that manufacturers use Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to reduce the risk of unintentional adulteration. Going on a gluten-free diet? Do not panic! Just check the label for a certified gluten-free claim.
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