The Gluten Bigot: Gluten Free vs. no Gluten Ingredients

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gluten Free vs. no Gluten Ingredients

One thing people always ask me is if something has no gluten ingredients, is it gluten free? This is something most people wouldn't think of, unless they deliberately avoid all gluten and products/food which may contain gluten.

The difference is quite simple: no gluten ingredients means that none of the ingredients are explicitly gluten containing - think about those products in the grocery store that you scan (because as a gluten bigot you always read each one) and none are list. Automatic impulse when no seeing any gluten or gluten derived your reaction is probably somewhat like this:

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But before you get too excited, note that no gluten ingredients does not mean gluten free. There is still:
  • The possibility of cross contamination during production. If you live in the US this will be noted on the label as gluten is one of eight identified major allergens.
  • The possibility that one of the ingredients was cross contaminated during production.
If a product is labelled gluten free it means that it should have cross contamination risk (or that proper stringent cleaning standards have been applied to shared equipment). If it is certified gluten free, that means that the product contains less than 20ppm (parts per million) of gluten, which has been deemed safe for most celiacs.

So what is a celiac/gluten intolerant to do? Should you eat the food with no gluten ingredients? What about the ones that were made on the same equipment? 

My advise is to make your own judgement call depending in your risk tolerance and your own body. I am highly reactive to trace amounts of gluten, but am guilt of the odd time buying products that are not certified gluten free or have been made on the same equipment as gluten containing ones. For some reason I typically make this exception when chocolate is involved, i liken this risk in some cases (and often with chocolatiers upon consultation) to the risk of eating in a restaurant. That said about 90% of my pantry items are clearly marked gluten free.

I'm really curious how other approach this. Do you consume products with a cross contamination risk? 

1 comment :

  1. we draw the line at "equipment shared with"
    we'll eat things that are made in a "facility shared with" if all the ingredients are clearly not gluten containing.

    we have learned the hard way about some candies (most of which we don't eat at all any more) and certain potato chips . . .

    it is sort of a gamble at times, isn't it?


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