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You can't always trust the label: Some products assumed to be non-gluten still contain gluten


(NaturalNews) Just because a food product doesn't contain wheat, rye, barley, or one of the other common gluten offenders as a labeled ingredient on the package doesn't necessarily mean that it's gluten-free. New research by a reputable gluten watchdog group found that many seemingly gluten-free foods actually contain trace amounts of gluten that could cause problems for people with Celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance.

The group "Gluten Free Watchdog" looked at 101 food products sold in the U.S. that fit the bill for not containing gluten ingredients, but that may or may not contain trace amounts of gluten from other sources. Some of these products contained advisory labels warning about possible cross-contamination with gluten, while others did not -- such labels are voluntarily, and not all food manufacturers use them.

Of the 101 products tested, 87 of them were not affixed with advisory labels, meaning customers who purchase them aren't being told that they may contain trace amounts of gluten. The good news is that most of them were, indeed, found to be clean and free of gluten. But 13 of the items, or 15 percent, tested positive for gluten, with nine of these containing gluten in amounts ranging from 5-20 ppm of gluten. Four of the items were found to contain at least 20 ppm of gluten.

On the flip side, of the 14 items that included allergy advisory statements -- these included cereals, spices, candy, baked goods, and tea and various other beverages -- only one tested positive for gluten. These and other findings were published in the September 14th online edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"In our research, the use of an allergen advisory statement for wheat on products not labeled gluten-free but appearing to be free of gluten-containing ingredients was not a useful predictor of gluten content," lead author Tricia Thompson stated about the findings.

"Allergen advisory statements are voluntary and not currently defined by any federal regulations," she added. "Some manufacturers use these statements to alert consumers to processing practices that may result in cross contact with allergens; many manufacturers do not."

If you have Celiac, stick with only verified gluten-free foods for your safety
Current U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines require that all food products claiming to be "gluten-free" contain no more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, this being a precautionary measure for the roughly one in 100 people who currently suffers from Celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition of the gut marked by damage to the small intestine whenever it's exposed to even small amounts of gluten, hence the importance of this new research. Constant exposure to gluten in a Celiac-afflicted individual not only inhibits the absorption of nutrients from food, but it can also provoke bone loss, infertility, and other serious health problems.

Though the study is relatively small in scale, its findings raise some important questions about the need for improved labeling requirements when it comes to possible contamination by gluten in apparently gluten-free foods. Its findings hold major scientific significance, and will serve as a foundation for further research into this important issue.

"Gluten-sensitive consumers should rely on products with gluten-free labels," says Steve Taylor, a food allergy researcher from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Taylor believes that there really isn't an issue when it comes to labeling, and that Celiac sufferers should simply avoid all food products that aren't verified to be gluten-free according to standardized measures.

"They should be careful about grain-based foods that have no gluten-free statement," he adds. "I don't think that they should worry about spices and tea."




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