The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Time to Get the Gluten Out!

Time to Get the Gluten Out!

Shoppers and Trends

December 20, 2009

Gluten-free food options are popping up like spring daisies and more and more consumers are requesting these gut friendly choices. So, if you are interested in satisfying the needs of this growing free-from community, then read on. In the food industry, gluten refers to the storage protein found in all grains and is seen as a beneficial component in food production. The medical community, most laymen and the rest of this article will refer only to the specific protein found in cereal and related grains, i.e. wheat, faro, durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn, barley and rye, as gluten.

Gluten is extremely harmful to people with the autoimmune intestinal disorder Celiac Disease (CD), and less harmful but still avoided by people with gluten intolerance and other conditions as directed by a physician. CD is very different from a food allergy and when these individuals ingest gluten, their bodies experience an immune reaction that damages the tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine. The damage inhibits proper nutrient absorption from foods. When people with CD are repeatedly exposed to gluten, they face an increased risk of both nutritional and immune related disorders, like anemia, osteoporosis, GI cancers, and nervous system disorders.

According to the National Institute of Health, CD affects about one in 133 Americans, but many remain undiagnosed. CD is treated through the adherence to a strict gluten-free diet.

How do those following a gluten-free diet find safe products to eat? They read labels for gluten-containing ingredients or look for gluten-free certification on food packages. One of the most prominent, highly reputable, and trusted global certifying organizations is The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). The GFCO provides an independent service to supervise gluten-free food production according to the strictest standards in producing gluten-free foods. Foods that have been GFCO approved proudly boast a simple yet recognizable stamp on product labels that is known as the gluten-free standard for consumers and manufacturers alike.   

As of yet, there is no mandatory government gluten labeling requirement. GFCO provides strict voluntary standards that help to improve, both physically and mentally, the lives of those living gluten-free – but we would expect mandatory labeling to appear on their agenda soon.

For more information on the Gluten Free Certification Organization, click here.