Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Myth: It’s impossible to find gluten-free foods in the grocery store.

Gluten Free breadsAnswer: BUSTED!

Until now there’s been no standard for how much gluten is allowed in a product labeled “gluten-free.” Manufacturers wanting to sell gluten-free foods will have to follow new standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Gluten is a protein found in breads, cakes, cereals, pastas and other foods. It is estimated that 1 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease. They are unable to absorb nutrients and may develop anemia, osteoporosis and other conditions. Others may be sensitive to foods containing gluten.

Foods labeled “gluten-free,” “without gluten,” “no gluten” or “free of gluten” must follow these standards. The amount of gluten allowed in foods is no more than 20 parts per million. Why not use 0 parts per million? Currently, scientists can’t detect less than 20 parts per million in foods. And researchers have found that most people with celiac disease who are affected by gluten are able to tolerate this amount in foods. Other countries use this amount as well when labeling their foods. What does 20 parts per million look like? Picture 2 grains of salt in a piece of bread.

This new rule applies to all foods and drinks regulated by the FDA including dietary supplements. According to the FDA, most products on the market meet this standard. The new rule goes into effect one year from now. For more information go to http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm363069

And remember, gluten-free products aren’t necessarily low calorie or healthier for you. You still need to read food labels to find out the amounts of other ingredients in foods such as fat and sugar. Read more at http://missourifamilies.org/features/nutritionarticles/nut420.htm

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, schusterer@missouri.edu, 573-882-1933  

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