- What does the term gluten-free mean?
It means the product is less than 20-parts per million of gluten.
- When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration surveyed food products labeled “gluten free,” what percentage met that definition?
Almost 99% of the products on the market indeed fell below 20-parts per million of gluten.
- What do additional specific certifications ensure?
Not much. Currently, research has found no significant difference in the gluten-free nature of products, whether they were just labeled gluten-free or they had a specific certification. If you are looking for less than 20-parts per million – such as less than 5-parts per million – then special certification might be useful.
- Generally speaking, which of the following foods are safe for celiac disease patients?
Yeast extract: Yes
Distilled vinegar: Yes
Malt extract: No
Alcohol – Distilled liquor and wine: yes; beer or cider only if these contain gluten-free ingredients; alcoholic beverages that say processed to remove gluten: No
Caramel colors: Yes
Malt syrup: No
Natural flavors: Yes
Malt flavor: No
- When a label warns that a product was made in a facility that also processes gluten, what does this mean?
Not much. This is a voluntarily label – the presence of such a statement does not mean it contains allergen, and the absence of a statement does not mean it is in a dedicated facility. The FDA found that products that contain oats, and some other products such as cereals, were actually more likely to be contaminated if they had this warning.
- About how much gluten does it take to damage the villi of most people with celiac disease?
About an eighth of a teaspoon of wheat flour contains enough gluten to damage the villi of most people with celiac disease. There are a portion of people with celiac who cannot even tolerate this much, but the vast majority that can tolerate this amount is how the 20-parts per million was determined.
- What is one question you can ask at a restaurant that will provide you with a lot of great information?
How do you prevent cross-contact with your gluten-containing menu items?
- Can you absorb gluten through your skin?
No, you cannot absorb it through your skin.