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Risk of Gluten-Containing Kernels to Gluten-Free Oats and Improved Gluten Analytical Method

Broadcast Date: Wednesday, March 10th | 8:30am - 9:30am​ Central

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Demand for gluten-free (GF) products is growing. Consumers count on manufacturers to comply with labeling requirements to ensure their offerings are truly GF. This is especially important for those with celiac disease (CD) as the only treatment for CD at present is a GF diet. Whole kernel contamination of oats by gluten containing grains complicates assessment of oats as GF. Overlooking the subtle but influential issues associated with this can lead to non-compliant GF oats on store shelves; found to be the case. Consequently, awareness of potential mis-assessment is important so remedial actions can be taken to mitigate the risk of non-compliant products getting to consumers.

Webinar Summary

Whole kernel contamination of grain presents a unique circumstance that affects purity compliance assessments. For instance, wheat, barley and rye kernels in otherwise pure oats act like highly concentrated gluten 'pills', intermittently dispersed across servings, creating a needle-in-the-haystack scenario. Being ineffective in addressing this scenario can result in non-compliant product in the marketplace, as has been found to be the case for gluten-free labeled oatmeal. The first part of the presentation highlights this circumstance and addresses potential remedial actions.

In light of inherently inhomogeneous distribution of wheat, rye and barley gluten in oat and oats products, a new sandwich ELISA was developed. The second art of the presentation highlights an international collaborative study with 19 laboratories and 42 blind duplicate samples confirmed that the test kit fulfilled all standard method performance requirements (AOAC SMPR® 2017.021) with limits of detection and quantitation below 5 mg/kg of gluten and recoveries ranging from 99 to 137 % for wheat, rye and barley. The relative standard deviation of reproducibility (RSD(R)) was 20% or lower for incurred homogeneous samples. RSD(R) values at or lower than 30% were obtained for most oat products, with the exception of oat flours (up to 54%) that seemed to be more inhomogeneous than the other samples.

About the Presenters

Ronald D. Fritz

Ron Fritz has been a consulting statistician in various industries for 25 years. He is currently a global subject matter expert for PepsiCo, Inc. working as Sr. Principal Engineer - Statistician. He has a wide range of experience in the application of statistics in various settings including defense, aerospace, textiles, medical devices and most notably the last decade in the food industry. A recent area of interest is gluten-free oat compliance where he has authored/co-authored ten articles on the subject. Ron holds a PhD in Industrial Engineering with a Mathematical Statistics minor from Clemson University and MS/BS degrees in Systems Management and Engineering Technology from the University of Southern California and National University respectively.

Prof. Dr. Katharina Scherf

Dr. Katharina Scherf leads the Department of Bioactive and Functional Food Chemistry at the Institute of Applied Biosciences, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany. Together with her team, she studies the complex interplay between structure, functionality and bioactivity of food biopolymers and uses these fundamental insights to improve food security, quality and safety. One of her main interests are analytical, immunological, and biochemical aspects of celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy. Having studied food chemistry, Katharina Scherf obtained her PhD degree from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and was a research group leader at the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology at the TUM. Her research was awarded with several prestigious scientific prizes, including the Research Award of the German Coeliac Society (2019 and 2014), the Young Scientist Research Award of the Cereals & Grains Association (2018) and the Gerhard-Billek-Prize of the G​erman Chemical Society (2015).