Steve L. Taylor, University of Nebraska, Department of Food Science and Technology, Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.A.
The Science of Gluten-Free Foods and Beverages
Celiac sufferers must adhere to a gluten-free diet throughout their lifetime. The availability of gluten-free foods is critical to an effective avoidance diet because gluten-containing grains are so frequently used in processed food products. Therefore, gluten-free ingredients are necessary to the formulation of gluten-free foods.
The definition of “gluten-free” is rather critical to any discussion of gluten-free foods or gluten-free ingredients. Gluten-free can have several definitions. The current guideline proposed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission would permit the presence of small amounts of gluten in gluten-free foods: <20 ppm gluten in foods or food ingredients that are naturally free from gluten and <200 ppm gluten in foods or food ingredients that have been rendered gluten-free. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has recently proposed a regulation that defines gluten-free as <20 ppm gluten. But some consumer groups, including the Celiac Sprue Association in the United States, would define gluten-free as below the limit of detection of the most sensitive analytical method available—that would be <3 ppm currently. Obviously, such disagreements might be settled if clinicians had reached consensus on the lowest dose of gluten likely to elicit intestinal damage in the most sensitive celiac patient.