The Scoop on Gluten Free Foods.

August 27th, 2010

New legislation from Brussels for the labelling of gluten-free foods is currently in effect. Understanding these changes will effect the everyday life of anyone wishing to avoid gluten in their diet.

The Codex Standard:

There is a level of gluten which is considered safe to eat for anyone who has coeliac disease and is sensitive to gluten. This level, which is the amount of gluten allowed in gluten-free products, is known as the codex standard. Until recently this was set at a level of 200mg gluten/kg or 200 parts per million (ppm). This standard has been recently changed to 20ppm. Only foods containing less than this amount can be labelled as ‘gluten-free’.

In practice a zero level does not exist, even naturally gluten-free cereals such as rice can contain up to 20ppm of gluten. Research has shown that people with coeliac disease, can eat unlimited amounts of gluten at a level below 20ppm.

Foods containing between 20 and 100ppm will be labelled as ‘very low gluten’. This will include specialist substitute products such as breads and flour mixes that contain Codex wheat starch.

The aim of the dual approach is to provide safer limits overall and allow a clearer choice of products for people with coeliac disease. After all different people have different tolerances for gluten in their diet. This change in the way low gluten products will be labelled will be complete by January 2012, but labels are already being produced which show these new descriptions.

The vast majority of oats and oat products on the market are contaminated with wheat, rye and /or barley. Processing such as milling, makes them generally unsuitable for people with coeliac disease.

If you are allergic to gluten and wish to adopt a gluten-free diet, there are lots of healthy, nutritious alternative grains that are available in Scoopaway including rice, millet, quinoa, corn, buckwheat, amaranth and tapioca. These grains are available as the wholegrain or as flour, crackers, breads, pasta and breakfast cereals. Other useful flour substitutes include potato, arrowroot, coconut and gram (chickpea flour). Gluten-Free flour mixes are also available.

Since glute provides the elastic quality needed when baking, you’ll need to make up for this to provide a similar texture. Scoopaway sells Xanthan Gum as a good substitute. Substitutes for thickeners include agar, arrowroot, cornflour, tapioca and xanthan gum.