People with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy cannot eat foods containing gluten without experiencing negative effects. Sufferers are advised to stick to a gluten-free diet.
As awareness of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity have increased in recent years, food manufactures and restaurateurs have begun providing gluten-free foods and dishes and clearly labeling packaging and menus.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a wheat protein that holds foods together. It’s also found in rye and barley. Wheat is used in a lot of common foods we eat everyday such as bread, cereal, and pasta. Wheat flour is often used as a base (i.e. roux) for many sauces. Barley is commonly used in beer.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease sufferers are genetically predisposed to experience damage to the small intestines when they eat foods containing gluten. Celiac disease runs in families and effects 3 million Americans. If left untreated, celiac disease can cause serious health problems such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis. A strict gluten-free diet is currently the only treatment.
What Foods Contain Gluten?
You will find gluten mostly in breads and other wheat-based foods. Common foods that contain gluten include:
Cross-contact can occur when non-gluten food comes into contact with gluten food, usually via utensils and storage spaces. People with celiac disease must avoid food that came into contact with gluten.
Which Foods are Gluten Free?
Gluten-free foods contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Many fruits, vegetables, meat, condiments, and dairy are gluten free. Gluten-free foods in the grains and breads category include:
- Gluten-free breads, cereals, and oats
FDA Gluten Free Labelling
The FDA defined “gluten-free” for food labeling in an August 2, 2013 final rule to ensure consumers can trust that items labeled “gluten-free” meet the standard for gluten content. The rule is for voluntary use and applied to packaged foods. The rule states that “gluten-free” shall mean the food is “inherently gluten free” or doesn’t contain an ingredient that is:
- A gluten-containing grain
- Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten
- Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten
Food Establishments and Gluten-Free Foods
Restaurant guests concerned about gluten are advised to ask their servers what the restaurant means by “gluten free,” what ingredients are used in dishes, and how they are prepared.
Restaurant staff should be knowledgeable about the ingredients used in their establishment’s dishes. Some guests may be concerned with cross-contact between gluten-free ingredients and foods containing gluten.
Managers and chefs should ensure that any dishes labeled “gluten free” conform to the FDA definition and are prepared in ways to minimize contact with gluten.
Gluten is just one of many food safety issues to be addressed in food establishments. Food handlers and managers must be familiar with a variety of allergy, hygiene, and contamination rules and standards. Learn2Serve is a great resource for food safety training available online. Busy food industry professionals can complete the required training anytime, anywhere they have internet. It’s that easy. Enroll today!