According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, the sales of gluten free foods hit $2.6 billion in 2010. This means that millions of people are sticking with a gluten free diet.
Even as the gluten-free diet has become so popular, the threat of gluten slipping its way into your food is still enormous.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration does not currently require food makers to clearly identify the use of gluten in their food products. If the manufacturer wants to print “Gluten-Free” on the label, they must not use any source of gluten, but if they are using gluten, there are no laws indicating that this must be clarified in print.
Any food that contains wheat must say, “Contains: Wheat” under the ingredient panel. Clearly, this recent requirement is an enormous help to us celiacs. After all, wheat is the most pervasive of the gluten-containing grains. Unfortunately though, it is not the only one. While rye is very rarely used in anything but rye bread, barley does find its way into our food from time to time.
So, someone who is gluten intolerant or who has celiac disease often has to know how to read labels in order to recognize foods that contain gluten. Below are three of the most common items that many people do not recognize as gluten products:
- Malt: From those wonderful candies called “Whoppers” to the classic powdered malted milk product, this is a food made entirely from barley. This is a substance that contains gluten which someone with celiac disease cannot eat.
- Artificial flavor or flavoring: Many things with a sweeter flavor will use barley. Since this is a grain-based product, it too could contain trace amounts of gluten that are often enough to trigger a response. Keep in mind, “enough” is completely subjective – the spectrum of how sensitive people are to gluten ranges from 1 to 100, and you know your body best. That said, I recommend that you steer clear of all gluten at all costs. The direct digestive response isn’t the only side effect. Long-term intestinal health is compromised as a result of gluten consumption as well.
- Generic terms: Okay, get ready to be astonished because this list is often a true eye opener! “Seasonings”, “Vegetable starch”, “Flavorings”, “Caramel color”, “Natural flavor/flavorings”, “Maltodextrin”, and “Vegetable starch” are all foods that could potentially contain gluten. You just never know – and to me, it’s never worth the risk.
Now that you understand how easily gluten can be hidden in an array of ingredients, you may want to purchase only from those who promise their products are truly “gluten-free”, and who don’t try to keep up with the competition by hiding unwanted ingredients behind clever names!