Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gluten Free Versus Wheat Free

What is Gluten?? That's a good question, and can something be gluten free an contain wheat, well actually yes! Just as something can be wheat free and still contain gluten.

Let's not make things too easy to follow now. The crazy part was the new labeling laws that were established in the US came with a lot of fan-fare and excitement that things would be easier and clearer, 6 months in, and it seems to be murkier and more convoluted. Now the US says Wheat Starch is ok to used in gluten free products. This is already a norm in Europe, so it's now been approved for the US. How safe is it? A study done in 1999, says it's not harmful to Celiacs...

From the FDA's site directly -
# 3 - How is “gluten-free” defined in the rule?
In general, foods may be labeled “gluten-free” if they meet the definition and otherwise comply with the final rule’s requirements. More specifically, the final rule defines "gluten-free" as meaning that the food either is inherently gluten free; or does not contain an ingredient that is: 1) a gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat); 2) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or 3) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food. Also, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.

There are some products already big name companies using wheat starch on Certified Gluten Free Products. Go-Picnic is one of them. As you see below the item is certified gluten free, but contains wheat... I see people question this regularly. Why? Because it's confusing!!

Well another big name brand, Dr. Schar's is going to be launching croissants in the US! They already sell croissants in Europe, and those croissants, contain Wheat Starch. So the products being brought over to the US now, follows that ingredient list and also has Wheat Starch. When you look at the ingredients it's the first thing listed! 

So now what?! Well we each need to figure out what this means for us. In the US it means if an item is labeled "Certified GF" and contains wheat starch. That amount is less than 20ppm of wheat starch. Now if you have a wheat allergy You HAVE to read all labels extra carefully. If you have a gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease, you have to determine if this product will cause any reactions for you. Remembering that any product labeled GF can contain up to 20ppm of any gluten, even from cross contamination of the facility. 

Cross contamination is a whole different story, but just as complex because manufacturers are NOT required to disclose items are made on shared lines or in shared facilities. So any manufactured product is a gamble unless you know how the product is made. 

Personally - I really miss croissants, and I will give them a try, I miss them so bad. As for this Candy from GoPicnic, I've probably eaten this candy from GoPicnic in the past without realizing there was wheat starch in it, only because it comes in a box labeled gluten free, I assumed it was safe! 

With anything it's our responsibility to research and know what is best for us, and make sure we make the best choices possible when it comes to our health and eating gluten free.

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