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Gluten Contamination of Grains, Seeds, and Flours in the United States: A Pilot Study – Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Jun 2010

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Under the Food Allergen and Consumer Protection Act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must issue a rule for the voluntary labeling of food as gluten-free. In the proposed rule, many single-ingredient foods, such as millet, are considered inherently free of gluten. Inherently gluten-free grains will be considered misbranded if they carry a gluten-free label and do not also state that all foods of the same type are gluten-free (e.g., “all millet is gluten free”).

Twenty-two inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours not labeled gluten-free were purchased in June 2009 and sent unopened to a company who specializes in gluten analysis. All samples were homogenized and tested in duplicate using the Ridascreen Gliadin sandwich R5 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with cocktail extraction.

• Thirteen of 22 (59%) samples contained less than the limit of quantification of 5 parts per million (ppm) for gluten.

• Nine of 22 (41%) samples contained more than the limit of quantification, with mean gluten levels ranging from 8.5 to 2,925.0 ppm.

• Seven of 22 samples (32%) contained mean gluten levels 20 ppm or more and would not be considered gluten-free under the proposed FDA rule for gluten-free labeling.

[Note: The most contaminated of the products in this sample group were: soy flour, one brand containing 92 parts gluten per million and another 2,925 ppm; millet flour, two brands at about 300 ppm; sorghum flour, 234 ppm; buckwheat flour, 65 ppm; and millet grain, 25 ppm.]

Gluten contamination of inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours not labeled gluten-free is a legitimate concern. The FDA may want to modify their proposed rule for labeling of food as gluten-free, removing the requirement that gluten-free manufacturers of inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours must state on product labels that all foods of that type are gluten-free.

Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Jun 2010;110(6)pp937-940. PMID: 20497786 by Thompson T, Roland Lee A, Grace T. [E-mail: tricia_s_thompson@hotmail.com]

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