Want to Know More about Gluten and Gluten-free?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a storage protein found only in wheat, rye, barley, and hybrid species of these cereal grains.

Some countries list oats as containing gluten due to contamination and because ~5% of celiac patients are sensitive to oats; other counties may list oats due to shared fields and/or equipment that can lead to cross-contact.

Gluten is the portion of flour from these grains that is insoluble in water.

It is a complex protein made up of glutelins and prolamins (quaternary protein structure).

Prolamins include gliadin (wheat), hordein (barley) and secalin (rye).

It is a trigger for celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder) and can cause digestive and systemic symptoms in people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).

It is not considered an allergen (although wheat can be).

What is Gluten Free?

The FDA defines “gluten-free” as any food containing <20 ppm gluten.1

This is measured as 20 mg/kg or the equivalent to a teaspoon (3-4 mL) in a full bathtub.

Gluten-free foods are made from gluten-free ingredients.

Gluten-free foods may be certified by a third party if a testing an oversight program are in place.

How to keep it gluten-free

Avoid gluten containing ingredients. (This seems obvious, but many people make assumptions when preparing foods for gluten-free friends.)

Isolate gluten-containing products by time and space.

Prepare gluten-free foods in a dedicated location if possible. Otherwise clean and sterilize and area for gluten-free food prep.

Remember that gluten-free is more than just a product label.

Foods made gluten-free need to be kept gluten-free by avoiding contamination and cross-contact in preparation, storage, and serving.

When every option is available…

Design a kitchen or food prep area with gluten and allergens in mind.

Dedicate and clearly label utensils and cookware as gluten and/or allergen free (color coding works well).

Think of everything. Handling a dusty wheat flour upwind of a gluten-free workspace means you don’t have a gluten-free workspace.

Test and Verify

If there’s a question about a food or ingredient, either avoid it or test it.

For food manufacturers, samples may be sent to accredited testing laboratories for quantitative analysis.

Food smaller producers and home users, rapid tests are available for home use.

We can test it on our own?

Yes! Although it can be cost-prohibitive to test everything in your kitchen or every item at a buffet, you may be able to test those higher risk items or that favorite dish your friend brought to the potluck. Tests take 5-15 minutes to run, work down to 10-20 ppm gluten, and cost anywhere from $7-18 per test. Some tests include everything you need to run them, while some require additional upfront purchases. Most are made solely for industrial use, some for home use, and at least one is suitable for both. Tests for industrial use typically have a PTMSM certification, which is a third-party validation by the AOAC Research Institute. We are proud to be the only home test kit made for both scenarios and the only test kit for home use to meet this rigorous standard.

1 https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2013/08/05/2013-18813/food-labeling-gluten-free-labeling-of-foods

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