There are two types of people who eat gluten free. Those who cannot eat any gluten and those who know they feel better not eating gluten. Although not the same, the best comparison may be an insulin dependent diabetic verses a diet managed diabetic. The second group are much more likely to be able to tolerate minuscule amounts of gluten but are also likely to suffer long term effects that may not show for years. Reacting to gluten is often different for different people. What nearly everyone will show is gastronomical distress. Other individuals will present inflammation and malnutrition problems which over time can go on to effect nearly any part of the body. Often problems will creep up. Just as likely, a stress of injury or sickness can make you aware of your symptoms. An estimated 1 in 80 are affected and the affliction is more likely for close relatives. Quite often people who have trouble digesting the gluten protein have trouble with dairy proteins.
In the US the term Gluten Free is showing up on more foods then ever before but as the time of this writing Gluten Free is not legally defined. This presents a safety issue as food manufacturers can include ingredients and packaging that have been known to the general public to be at high risk of allergen contamination and still place Gluten Free on the label. There is also a risk when grocers place allergen free foods side by side with foods laden with the allergens. This risk grows depending on type of food and packaging. For instance placing gluten free baking items together with wheat flour is a recipe for a bad reaction.
From individuals I spoke with recently, the FDA wants to have a single term based on currently available laboratory tests as the legal definition. Foods that can test to 20PPM gluten free can be labeled gluten free. This does not help the people it is designed to help as most recipes use more than a single ingredient. The 20PPM is cumulatory. After cooking and baking, reduction can result in much higher than 20PPM. More than one serving can result in higher than 20PPM.
If we are to rely on tests over common sense then we must have two legal definitions.
Gluten Free : This is the common sense definition where there is no possibility of gluten in the manufacturing process in any way. This is for ingredients, manufacturing plant, and packaging.
Tested 20PPM Gluten Free: Food that is tested every batch have no more than 20PPM gluten. This if for shared manufacturing plants. This is for items that have been known to be contaminated. Items such as oats fit in this category. Items that have the possibility of including an adult kernel containing gluten fit here, like grasses.
These definitions must include all ingredients such as colorings and flavorings. If a beetle is crushed to to make a red coloring then it must be farmed on food that is gluten free to be able to label the finished product Gluten Free.
I urge you to push for both labels.
We all get sick. I also urge these labels for medicine which is often harder to information on than food.
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