You’ll need a variety of facts to make an informed decision to determine if wheat starch is right for you. I’ve gathered up some information from trusted resources to help you understand.
Wheat starch has been used in gluten-free products for decades - in some parts of the world - but not here in the USA.
Elaine Hartsook, dietitian and original founder of the Gluten Intolerance Group, approached Ener-G Foods about their Low Protein bread. According “Our Story” on Ener-G’s website, “Elaine Hartsook, R.D., whom I hadn’t previously met, came into the office and complained that we were “killing” her patients with our wheat starch bread.” Elaine discovered that celiac patients were purchasing and consuming this Low Protein bread developed for dialysis patients. Ener-G reports this bread probably contained less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Dr. Cyrus Rubin, inventor of the Rubin Biopsy Tube and professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Washington and his dietitian - yep - Elaine Hartsook met with Ener-G and asked them to develop a gluten-free bread without using wheat starch. By 1978, Ener-G created probably one of the first (only?), commercially available gluten-free breads.
Things to know about wheat starch:
- Wheat starch IS allowed to be included in foods labeled gluten-free as long as the final product contains less than 20 parts per million.
- The FDA considers it an ingredient processed to remove gluten.
- The FDA states: “Wheat starch, when properly manufactured, does not involve hydrolysis of the gluten and can be protein-free.
- A 2014 study out of Germany - Wheat starch has been shown to contain a wide range of gluten: from less than 5 parts per million to over 10,000 parts per million - depending on the processing.
Information about Wheat Starch
Excerpts from “3 Tips for Gluten-Free Label Reading”
A product that is labeled gluten-free may include the term “wheat” in the ingredient list (such as “wheat starch”) or in a separate “Contains wheat” statement, but the label must also include the following statement: “The wheat has been processed to allow this food to meet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for gluten-free foods
If “wheat starch” is an ingredient in a GFCO–certified product, the wheat has been processed to such an extent that the food meets the GFCO standard of 10 ppm or less gluten.
About Wheat Starch
Someone allergic to wheat should avoid wheat starch. For someone avoiding gluten, wheat starch could contain gluten unless it is in a product that is certified or labeled gluten-free. In that case, the gluten in wheat starch has been processed out. As long as the product is certified or labeled gluten-free, it is safe for someone avoiding gluten.
Anytime information is needed, you folks know that I’m going to include Tricia Thompson, MS, RD. Without further ado…
Tricia Thompson, MS, RD of Gluten-Free Watchdog
Excerpts from “Does Wheat Starch Belong in a Gluten-Free Diet?”
Wheat starch is not wheat grain and it is not wheat protein. It is not intended to contain any gluten. BUT it is very difficult to completely separate the starch and protein components of wheat so small amounts of gluten remain in the wheat starch. Not all wheat starch is created equal. Depending on the extent of processing wheat starch will contain varying amounts of residual gluten.
In 2008 I wrote the following on wheat starch (from the Gluten Free Nutrition Guide, McGraw Hill):
“… If a manufacturer of wheat starch or products containing wheat starch demonstrates through testing that its products contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten, then in theory I support their consumption by people with celiac disease.”
BUT more is known today about testing wheat starch for gluten than was known 10 years ago
Updated opinion on wheat starch…
Because of the current limitations associated with testing wheat starch for gluten, it is the opinion of Gluten Free Watchdog that products containing wheat starch are best avoided by individuals with celiac disease.
That said, if you have celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder and you would like to eat wheat-starch based foods, it is the recommendation of Gluten Free Watchdog that you do the following:
Eat foods containing wheat starch only if the product is labeled gluten-free.
Establish with the manufacturer that the final product is tested using both a sandwich and competitive ELISA.
An interesting article was published by Van Waffle on GlutenFreeLiving.com in February 2015. Van’s article offers a good bit of history and background information on wheat starch. Included in the article are the thoughts and advice of a number of trusted experts in the gluten-free community. You’ll notice different perspectives on this ingredient.
GlutenFreeLiving.com • Van WaffleExcerpts from “The New Word on Wheat Starch”February 2015
Products made with gluten-free wheat starch are absolutely safe, says Cureton, even for people with particularly high sensitivity to gluten. Wheat starch contains such a tiny amount of gluten that it doesn’t significantly add to the gluten level in the final product. But consumers have to continue to read labels, understand what they mean, and make sure anything containing wheat starch also identifies itself as gluten-free and says that the ingredient has been processed to remove gluten.
Wheat starch in a gluten-free food may come as a surprise to U.S. consumers, but it has an established record in Europe where Dr. Schär has used it for at least 20 years, according to Anne Lee, R.D., director of nutritional services for the company’s U.S. operations in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.
Research has found no evidence that foods containing gluten-removed wheat starch harm people with celiac disease. A 2003 study at Tampere University Hospital in Finland tracked newly diagnosed patients after they adopted a gluten-free diet.
In recommending wheat starch, the authors of this study argued that minute contamination of less than 20 ppm of gluten is virtually impossible to avoid in any diet. International standards have accepted this level because it’s considered safe for the vast majority of people with celiac disease.
But some experts express skepticism. “I would not expect to see gluten-free wheat starch approved in Canada in the near future, but if the experience is a positive one in the United States, there may be a review of the situation in the mid to long term,” says Sue Newell, operations manager for the Canadian Celiac Association.
While wheat glucose syrup, wheat-based caramel and wheat maltodextrin—gluten-free derivatives allowed by Canadian labeling law—occur in food only in small fractions, wheat starch could contribute a higher proportion to the final food product, Newell notes. And she worries about the cumulative effect from traces of gluten in wheat starch when added to unavoidable gluten from cross-contamination.
The Celiac Disease Foundation supports the legislation allowing wheat starch, however. “The FDA went through a vigorous consulting process with the national groups in celiac disease, both medical and scientific, and this was the consensus: that wheat starch that has been processed to remove gluten to the FDA standard is safe for the celiac disease population,” says Marilyn Geller, chief executive officer of the foundation.
Authors of the Tampere University Hospital study point out wheat starch’s benefits. Compliance with a gluten-free diet is more important to recovery than avoiding trace amounts of gluten, they say. Because wheat starch improves the flavor and texture of certain foods, it can mean the difference in some people’s ability to accept such a difficult diet.
Schar has been a trusted and respected name in gluten-free community for decades. Currently, in the U.S. their Gluten-Free Croissants are made with wheat starch.
Schar.comExcerpts from “What You Should Know About Gluten Free Wheat Starch”
Wheat Free vs. Gluten Free
One thing to keep in mind when talking about wheat starch versus wheat flour is that gluten free does not necessarily mean wheat free, and vice versa. Remember, wheat starch is made from the same grain as wheat flour, it just goes through extra processing. This means that people who are intolerant or allergic to wheat – even if they are not sensitive to gluten – could have a negative reaction.
What Gluten Free Products Use Wheat Starch?
Although gluten free wheat starch has been approved by the FDA, there is still a great deal of skepticism about it. It may comfort you to know, however, that the use of wheat starch in gluten free foods has been rigorously tested. In fact, Schär has been using it for over 20 years. When gluten free wheat starch enters the Schär facility, it goes through additional testing using the ELISA method to ensure it meets standards. In fact, more than 90% of the wheat starch Schär uses tests below 5ppm..”
Research has shown no evidence that foods made with gluten-removed wheat starch are harmful to people with celiac disease.
The Bottom Line
The truth of the matter is that it is entirely your choice which food products you do and do not eat.
For the most part, wheat starch can be considered a safe ingredient as long as it is labeled gluten free. You still need to do your due diligence in reading food labels, but as long as a product is certified gluten free it is safe to eat.
I’ve thrown a lot of information at you. Hopefully, there is enough here for you to make an educated choice.
Alan Klapperich - Branch Manager
Some turkeys are not gluten-free. Always check the ingredient list! If you are unsure, call the manufacturer and ask questions.
Pay close attention to any seasoning or flavorings added to the turkey. The ingredients may be a likely source of gluten in your turkey.
Some turkeys will include a separate gravy packet - some are gluten-free, others are not. Be sure to read the ingredient list. Tossing the gravy packet is the best plan, gluten-free or not. Make it yourself; it’ll be so much better.
Be aware that the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) regulates labeling for meat, poultry, egg products. USDA regulations for labeling allergens [like wheat] are not the same as the FDA regulations. Companies may voluntarily comply with FDA regs, but they are not required to disclose wheat, barley, rye, oats, or any derivatives.
If this is your first gluten-free holiday season, you might check out our Navigating The Holidays article for some hints and tips.
"For many, the holiday season is filled with smiles, laughter and lots of merriment. However, for those with dietary restrictions, it can be the complete opposite – fear, dread and lots of worriment."
Looking for some holiday recipes?
Check out some of our favorites.
Gluten-Free Holiday Dinner Guide - complete with a few recipes!
INCREDIBLY EASY GLUTEN FREE TURKEY GUIDENeed to prepare a gluten-free holiday dinner? Butterball can help! Our Butterball fresh and frozen raw unstuffed turkeys are always gluten-free, and our gravy pack included with our Butterball Whole and Boneless Breast items is also gluten-free. And for all the trimmings, check out the recipes below to find a variety of gluten-free side dishes and desserts sure to please all your holiday guests. For a detailed explanation on our gluten-free products, visit Are Butterball Turkeys Gluten Free on our Frequently Asked Questions Page.Q: ARE BUTTERBALL TURKEYS GLUTEN FREE?A: All of the Butterball products are gluten free except for Butterball Stuffed Turkey (bread stuffing) and Butterball Frozen Meatballs. For our products that are packaged with gravy packets, the gravy packets are gluten free as well. The gravy contains rice flour instead of wheat flour and the modified food starch is corn based.
Gluten-Free Butterball Turkeys:
Fresh L'il Butterball
Frozen Whole Turkey
Frozen L'il Butterball
Frozen Fully Cooked Smoked Turkey
Frozen Fully Cooked Baked Turkey
Ready to Roast Whole Turkey
Do your hams or turkey breast contain glutens?
Do your hams or products have glutens in them?All of our shipped hams, turkey breasts and whole turkeys are gluten-free! Please note: Products in our retail store are not produced in a gluten-free environment.
Do you turkeys contain gluten?Honeysuckle White® fresh and frozen whole turkeys and bone-in turkey breasts do not contain gluten. If the turkey you purchased has gravy, our gravy does not contain gluten either. Rice flour is used in the preparation of our gravy.
Honeysuckle White Whole Turkeys:
Fully Cooked Oven Roasted Whole Turkey
Fresh Whole Turkey
Frozen Whole Turkey
Bone-in Turkey Breasts:
Frozen Bone-In Turkey Breast
Fully Cooked Hickory Smoked Bone-In Turkey Breast
Fresh Bone-In Turkey Breast
Honeysuckle While offers several gluten-free products, however, you have to check each product.
Jenni-O is a Hormel Company. Hormel will clearly gluten (wheat, barley/malt, rye, oats).
Although our products are labeled in compliance with government regulations, we believe the best practice is for you to read the labels on the products to determine if the food product meets your required needs. Parents and individuals with food allergies and/or food intolerances are responsible for reading the label of all products they intend to use regardless of how the product is represented on this site. To help those dealing with gluten sensitivity or allergies, we have a provided a list detailing the wide range of products we offer that are gluten-free.If you have any questions we would to talk to you. Please call our Customer Service Representatives at 1-800-523-4635 or submit your question online.
Hormel's Gluten-Free List (See Jenni-O Brand)
Jennie-O has many items on their gluten-free list.
Gluten-free products from website using their Filters. Purdue’s gluten-free offerings + No Wheat Allergen Filter
Gluten Free Chicken Breast Tenders (42 oz)
Gluten Free Chicken Breast Tenders (42 oz)
Individually Frozen Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (3 lbs.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Grilled (9 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Grilled Fajita Style (9 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Grilled Fajita Style, (26 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Grilled Italian Style (9 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Grilled, (16 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Honey Roasted (9 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Original Roasted (26 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Original Roasted (9 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Rotisserie Seasoned (26 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Rotisserie Seasoned (9 oz.)
Carved Chicken Breast, Southwestern Style (9 oz.)
Carved Turkey Breast, Oven Roasted (8 oz.)
SIMPLY SMART® ORGANICS Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets, Gluten Free (22 oz.)
SIMPLY SMART® ORGANICS Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders, Gluten Free (22 oz.)
SIMPLY SMART® ORGANICS Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders (11.2 oz.)
SIMPLY SMART® ORGANICS Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders (42 oz.)
SIMPLY SMART® ORGANICS Gluten Free Grilled Chicken Breast Strips (6 oz.)
Should you have further questions, please feel free to contact a consumer representative at 1-800-473-7383 Monday through Friday 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM ET, or email us at www.Perdue.com.
Is your turkey gluten free?Yes. Turkey does not include gluten. Our turkey deli meats are gluten-free and casein-free. However, our turkey gravy and homestyle dressing contain wheat. Please read the ingredients labels and get in touch with us with any ingredient or allergy questions.
Shady Brook Farms FAQ
Do you turkeys contain gluten?Shady Brook Farms® fresh and frozen whole turkeys and bone-in turkey breasts do not contain gluten. If the turkey you purchased has gravy, our gravy does not contain gluten either. Rice flour is used in the preparation of our gravy.
Frozen Hotel-Style Bone-In Turkey Breast
Hotel-Style Bone-In Turkey Breast
Fresh Young Bone-In Turkey Breast
Shady Brook Farms - Contact us page.
An extensive list of companies
This question has been asked countless times over the years. Until now, we have not had any concrete answers.
All too often the gluten-free community runs into restaurants using the same deep frier for gluten items and their gluten-free items. Of course, we know this practice is not acceptable for those requiring truly gluten-free foods, but the uneducated think otherwise.
This study appearing at the International Celiac Symposium 2017 India, shows it's quite difficult to destroy gluten with temperatures used in customary cooking methods. And when it is destroyed, it's not safe to eat [not that gluten is safe to eat in its uncarbonized state...]
Rodriguez Herrera A2, Garcia Sanchez M2, Lamprea Moruno M2, Monje J3, Comino I1
1 Facultad de Farmacia, Spain, 2 IHP Group, Spain, 3 Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain
Verify effective elimination of Gluten Immunogenic Peptides (GIP) by home cooking techniques.
Batches of samples of gluten containing flour, potatoes, and potatoes plus flour matched to controls were tested. Each batch was cooked in laboratory by use of electric stove, gas stove, oil deep fryer, induction stove and water bath and was cooked at temperature range from 91-233°C (196-452 F) for 5 up to 30 minutes. GIP content was tested by GlutenTox® Sticks (KT- 5340 Biomedal Diagnostics) based on antibody G12.
On gas stove was necessary to keep 233 °C (451 °F) for 10 minutes to have absence of GIP detection. In range 190-200°C (374-392°F) incubation for 30 minutes was needed to have absence of GIP detection. Tests in temperatures below 190°C (374°F) showed presence of GIP at 10 and 20 minutes.
On induction stove temperature up to 246°C (475°F) for 6 minutes was needed to have negativity to GIP. Lower temperature ranges in spite of extended time up to 30 minutes were unable to get negative GIP. In oven processing never was got negative GIP signal, in spite of processing up to 210°C (410°F) and extended incubation time up to 45 minutes.
Samples processed on electric stove, water bath and deep frying showed presence of GIP in all ranges of time and temperature.
It is not realistic the elimination of gluten (GIP) at home kitchen by heat as temperatures higher that 200°C (392°F) are needed. Extended processing time is no compatible with conventional recipes. Fat processing over 200 is link with toxic metabolites generation which may be harmful. Use of oven or deep frying without proper cleaning may transfer GIP to meals when previously gluten containing meals were processed in these appliances.
On September 14th, 2020, Gluten-Free Watchdog presented their first-of-its-kind study to the Association of Official Analytical Collaboration (AOAC) International. This study measured the amounts of gluten found in gluten-free foods when cooked in fryers that previously fried gluten-containing foods.
Like the study above, Gluten-Free Watchdog shows that gluten cross contact in shared fryers is problematic for individuals with gluten-related disorders.
“Gluten-free foods cooked in shared fryers with wheat: A pilot study assessing gluten cross contact.”
Dietitians have long been discouraging consumers with celiac disease (CD) from ordering gluten-free foods cooked in shared fryers at restaurants.
This recommendation is based on presumed gluten exposure versus evidence-based research that gluten cross contact occurs. To the best of the authors’ knowledge there is no published data on gluten levels of gluten-free foods after cooking in shared fryers.
The lack of evidence of cross contact contributes to confusion among consumers, especially when gluten-free foods cooked in shared fryers (e.g., fries) are marked as gluten-free on some restaurant menus.
The purpose of the present study is to help inform consumer recommendations by assessing gluten levels of fries free of gluten-containing ingredients cooked in shared fryers with wheat.
The sandwich R5 ELISA found quantifiable levels of gluten in 9 of 20 (45%) orders of fries ranging from 7 to > 84 parts per million (ppm)(above the highest standard) (Table 1).
Five orders (25%) of fries tested above 20 ppm of gluten.
Fries from 6 of the 10 (60%) restaurants were found to contain quantifiable levels of gluten in at least 1 of the 2 orders, with fries from 4 of these 6 restaurants found to contain levels above 20 ppm of gluten in at least 1 of the 2 orders.
The competitive R5 ELISA found gluten in 3 of the 20 (15%) orders of fries ranging from 14 to > 283 ppm gluten (above the highest standard).
Results of this assessment suggest that gluten cross contact may occur when gluten free foods are cooked in shared fryers with wheat. While a much larger study may be warranted, it remains prudent to advise consumers with CD to avoid foods cooked in shared fryers.
It is impossible for a consumer to know how much gluten is in fryer oil and how much gluten may end up in an order of fries. Shared holding trays, scoops, and fryer baskets also are sources of potential cross contact.
The gluten levels reported in this investigation are likely underestimates due to the limitations of the analytical methods available for gluten analysis of foods heated to high temperatures
For more information (including PowerPoint presentation, video, and white paper):
9/27/20 - Added Gluten-Free Watchdog’s study.
At this stage of the game, you’ve probably heard about some type of low or no carb diet template. As the name suggests, these diets remove all grains - yes, even the gluten-free grains.
Grain-free diets are known by several different names: Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Caveman, Ancestral, Paleolithic, Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS), Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP), Wheat Belly.
These diets tout a host of benefits that extend beyond a traditional gluten-free diet. Many members of the gluten-free community feel best when they’re grain-free as well.
By definition, grain-free should be gluten-free. “Gluten” is the generic name for the various proteins found in grains. You ditch the grains, you ditch the gluten. It’s a no-brainer! Um, not so fast Slick…
The purpose of this article is to make you aware of an important fact that is not always discussed by the proponents of grain-free diets.
Don't be lulled into a false sense of gluten-free safety by a grain-free food - even though it may be “Paleo Certified”. Sure, the food itself may be naturally gluten-free, but gluten-cross contamination could still be a threat. My concern is for those who may not know to be concerned about cross contact. The unknowing may wonder why they’re not feeling better while being grain-free due to gluten contamination.
Almond flour, coconut flour, chick pea flour, flax seeds (whole or ground), whole nuts of all kinds, herbs, spices, and seasonings are some of the popular ingredients in many grain-free foods. Sure, those are all single ingredient foods - but if these foods are ground, processed, packaged on lines used for gluten containing foods, then the end product could have detrimental levels of gluten.
The bottom-line for those with gluten-related disorders who want to be grain-free - make sure your grain-free foods/ingredients are labeled or certified gluten-free.
GIG of ECW Branch Manager
May Contain, Manufactured in a facility, etc
Voluntary Food Allergen Advisory Statements
Updated March 30th 2018
I've added the Allergen Advisory Statements Study that was published in Sept. 2016.
You may find a product labeled “Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free” that bears a GFCO gluten-free certification logo, but, it also has a “May contain traces of” statement that includes wheat. WHOA!
Believe it or not, this product is in compliance with current FDA Food Allergen Labeling and consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) labeling laws. “May Contain”, “Processed in the same facility as”, or “Processed on the same equipment as” are known as Food Allergen Advisory statements. They are voluntary and are not regulated, unlike the required “Contains” statement for food allergen ingredients. According to the FDA, companies may use advisory statements as long as they are “truthful and not misleading”.
For years, the gluten-free community has been warned about using advisory statements for determining the gluten-free status. Their usefulness is diminished due to the lack of definition and regulation.
We covered this information in our March 19th 2011 newsletter and meeting, but it bears repeating. In 2010, HealthNow hosted their 2nd Annual Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Forum. Cynthia Kupper, RD, GIG Executive Director was a featured speaker. She was asked this question during her Q&A session:
Q: The ingredient list contains no gluten, but there's a statement about “Processed in the same facility as...”or “Processed on the same equipment as...” what do you do? A: That’s a voluntary advisory statement designed for people with IgE allergies. Many companies use it as a “CYA”. No meaning for celiacs. A group of RD's determined that it would reckless of them to suggest that statement should be used to determine gluten-free status. If you have an IgE (anaphylactic reaction), you need to think about it.A "Contains..." statement is an allergen statement and required by law. "May Contain" is not an allergen statement.”
Source: 2010 HealthNow Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Forum DVD
Check out this example of Aldi's Baker's Corner Instant Pudding. After the ingredient list, you'll see a statement that reads: "MANUFACTURED IN A FACILITY THAT USES TREE NUTS, SOY, MILK, AND WHEAT."
Update: While it may still be gluten-free, this product is no longer labeled gluten-free.
I reached out to Aldi's to ask about this product. On May 15th, 2015, the Quality Control Supervisor from Subco Foods in Sheboygan, WI (the company that does the pudding) called me. I asked about the production lines for this product - did they run any gluten products on this line?
Tamela’s answer was very thorough! The pudding lines are dedicated - only pudding is done on them - nothing else - no gluten. They test raw materials for gluten coming into the plant - they test during production and they also send samples out to a private lab for finished product testing. Between pudding flavor runs (vanilla/chocolate/etc), they follow a strict teardown and cleaning process. They are very serious about food allergens.
Also the pudding lines are isolated from their jello lines. She said they do not want dairy getting into the jello lines.
So, what do we do with products like this? Call the manufacturer to ask questions. Ask about the facilities, the production lines, and their policies and procedures for allergen handling. If they do not answer the questions to your satisfaction, find another manufacturer with a similar product that does meet your needs.
Building upon their 2016 paper [see below], Tricia Thompson, Amy Keller, and Trisha B. Lyons published "When foods contain both a gluten-free claim and an allergen advisory statement for wheat: should consumers be concerned?" on March 26, 2018 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
This retrospective database analysis included a total of 328 gluten-free labeled products previously tested for gluten content by Gluten-Free Watchdog.
Here's what they found…
On the basis of this retrospective data analysis, the use of allergen advisory statements (regardless of type) on foods labeled gluten-free was not indicative that a food was out of compliance with the gluten-free label ing rule. Due to the current lack of federal regulations for allergen advisory statements, consumers with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders should not make gluten-free purchasing decisions based solely on the presence or absence of an allergen advisory statement for wheat.
One issue that may be causing mistrust among gluten-free consumers when products contain both a gluten-free claim and a precautionary statement for wheat is the lack of required testing for foods labeled gluten-free. In the US,while foods must contain <20 p.p.m. of gluten to be labeled gluten-free, testing is not included in the FDA’s codiﬁed rule.
Increased education is needed to advise consumers that a gluten-free claim applies to gluten that may be in a product due to ingredients and cross-contact. Under the gluten-free labeling rule, a gluten-free claim on product packaging means the food must comply with all criteria of the rule,including containing <20 p.p.m. of gluten. This is true regardless of the presence or absence of an allergen advisory statement for wheat .
When combining the results of both studies…
4/45 (9%) products that DID include an allergen advisory statement for wheat or gluten on product packaging contained quantifiable gluten.
52/384 (14%) products that did NOT include an allergen advisory statement for wheat or gluten on product packaging contained quantifiable gluten.
The FDA should strongly consider regulating allergen advisory statements, especially in light of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Tricia Thompson, Trisha B. Lyons, and Amy Jones analyzed allergen advisory statements of 101 products previously tested for gluten content by Gluten-Free Watchdog. These products were not labeled gluten-free, however the ingredient list did not include any gluten containing ingredients (no wheat, barley, rye, malt, or brewers yeast).
On September 14th 2016, they published Allergen Advisory Statements for Wheat: NOT a Useful Predictor of Gluten Content.
Here's what they found…
In this database review, precautionary labeling for wheat or gluten on products not labeled gluten-free but appearing to be free of gluten-containing ingredients was NOT a useful predictor of gluten content. In some cases, consumer reliance on precautionary statements for wheat or gluten could have resulted in choosing a product contaminated with gluten.
• 87/101 (86%) products tested for gluten did NOT include an allergen advisory statement for wheat or gluten on product packaging.
• Fourteen products (14%) tested for gluten DID include an allergen advisory statement for wheat or gluten on product packaging.
• Of the 87 products that did NOT include an advisory statement, 13 (15%) contained quantifiable gluten at or above 5 ppm including 4 products (5%) that tested at or above 20 ppm of gluten.
• Of the 14 products that DID include an advisory statement, only 1 (7%) contained quantifiable gluten at or above 5 ppm.
On the basis of this analysis, the current use of allergen advisory statements for wheat or gluten are not useful predictors of whether or not a single or multi-ingredient food product contains 20 or more p.p.m. of gluten. Precautionary statements should be regulated and standardized so that they are helpful to the consumer.
In terms of foods labeled gluten-free, consumers are advised to trust the label regardless of allergen advisory statements for wheat or gluten. This is due to the gluten-free labeling rule applying to both gluten in ingredients and gluten that may be found in a product due to cross contact. However, when it comes to foods not labeled gluten-free but appearing to be "gluten-free" based on ingredients, there are no established guidelines for individuals with celiac disease on whether they should avoid products with allergen advisory statements for wheat or gluten.
Increased education is also required to let consumers know that FALCPA includes ingredients only and does not include allergens that may be in a product unintentionally due to cross contact. Increased education is also needed to let consumers know that a gluten-free label applies to gluten that may be in a product due to ingredients and cross contact and that regardless of the source of gluten the product must contain less than 20 p.p.m. gluten.
To learn more about this confusing matter, please watch these excellent Q&A videos from Gluten-Free Watchdog.
3/30/18 - Updated to include "When foods contain both a gluten-free claim and an allergen advisory statement for wheat…" paper
10/20/16 - Updated to include "Allergen advisory statements for wheat: do they help US consumers with celiac disease make safe food choices?"
updated 10/30/19 - Updated Purity Protocol Oats list from GFWD
updated 04/30/19 - Add GIG and GFWD links
updated 12/31/18 - Updated GFW’s purity protocol oats list.
updated 04/20/17 - Add Healio article "Oats appear safe for patients with celiac disease" .
updated 04/11/17 - Add GIG's Purity Protocol definition.
updated 03/02/17 - Added Trader Joes GF Rolled Oats to Purity Protocol Heros
updated 01/25/17 - Added Gluten-Free Watchdog's Updated Position Statement on Oats
updated 01/05/17 - Add more Gluten-Free Watchdog links
updated 10/28/16 - Added video and Dietitians in Gluten Intolerance Diseases (DIGID) Oats handout
updated 06/08/16 - Added Bakery on Main to Purity Protocol Rebels
updated 05/18/16 - Added GFW oat product analysis.
More on that later, but first a little background information on said ingredient of discussion.
Oats have been controversial for over 20 years. Are they acceptable on a GF diet or not?
Many in the gluten-free community would beg to differ with that recommendation because they react to gluten-free oats as well. Those in the grain-free/low-carb community offer convincing evidence that supports their lifestyle too.
Regular followup testing is also advised to make sure intestinal damage is not occurring. For those newly diagnosed, it’s suggested to restrict the use of oats for up to one year.
Also be aware that some celiacs react to the protein found in oats [known as avenin] just as they react to the proteins in wheat, barley, rye.
If you know they cause you discomfort, do not eat them.
The experts who recommend oats, all agree that only pure, uncontaminated gluten-free oats be used - no commercial oats allowed.
Why? Cross contamination with gluten [wheat, barley, rye].
A 2004 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reveals "regular" oats should not be considered safe for those requiring a gluten-free diet. Four different lots from three different companies found gluten content ranging from less than 3 parts per million to 1807 parts per million. Gluten Contamination of Commercial Oat Products in the United States by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD
Update April 30th, 2019 - Gluten-Free Watchdog, shares more research from PepsiCo (owners of Quaker Oats brand).
Due in large part to data published in the public domain by Quaker, the celiac disease community continues to learn about the nature of gluten grain cross contact in oats, including that:https://www.somatopublications.com/oat-consumption-by-celiac-disease-patients-outcomes-range-from-harmful-to-beneficial-depending-on-the-purity-of-the-oats.pdf
Grains of wheat, barley, and rye are unevenly distributed within a given amount of oats.
Despite what may be the best efforts of suppliers, gluten-containing grains have been found in both final product purity protocol oats and final product mechanically and optically sorted oats.
Read More: Oats Revisited: Quaker Gluten-Free Oats - http://bit.ly/2J8ujmj
Update January 5th, 2017 - Tricia, founder of Gluten-Free Watchdog, shares another article from PepsiCo (owners of Quaker Oats brand) about testing oats.
PepsiCo scientists recently published a second article in the scientific peer-reviewed literature on the difficulties associated with testing oats for gluten contamination. This article entitled “Kernel-based gluten contamination of gluten-free oatmeal complicates gluten assessment as it causes binary-like test outcomes” compliments their first article entitled, “Gluten-containing grains skew gluten assessment in oats due to sample grind non-homogeneity.”Bottom Line. Based on the findings of the research by scientists from PepsiCo, Gluten Free Watchdog calls on ALL suppliers and manufacturers of gluten-free oats whether purity protocol or mechanically/optically sorted, and their certifying bodies to reevaluate their testing methodology and requirements for certification, respectively.
Recommendation. The situation with oats continues to evolve. As mentioned above, Gluten Free Watchdog’s position statement on oats will be updated in the near future. In the meantime, my advice is:
Choose your oat products based on your comfort level with regard to the level of information provided to you by manufacturers. You may want to consider the following:
Do they disclose their testing protocols?
Do they disclose the assay they use to test oats for gluten contamination?
If a manufacturer refuses to answer any of these questions or responds by saying the information is proprietary, the advice of Gluten Free Watchdog is to move on to another company.
Read More: http://bit.ly/2iePfrv
Quaker's first article on oat testing: http://bit.ly/2hX1JpU
Update May 18th, 2016 - Mining through five years of testing, Gluten-Free Watchdog finds oat products are at higher risk of gluten contamination compared to gluten-free labeled foods as a whole. 35 products containing oats as first or second ingredient were tested. Analysis shows:
Update October 28th, 2016 - Dietitians in Gluten Intolerance Diseases (DIGID) held a breakfast meeting at this year's Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE). Topic: Oats.
This event was sponsored by purity protocol oats producer, GF Harvest Oats. GF Harvest Oats owner, Seaton Smith was the keynote speaker. A mechanically & optically sorted oats supplier was also asked to participate, but declined to speak. Tricia Thompson, RD, MS of Gluten-Free Watchdog volunteered to present information about sorted oats.
Tricia was kind enough for create a video to accompany the DIGID oats meeting handout. Please have the handout open while watching the video.
OK - back to the issue at hand…
Shortly after Cheerios announced their recall of 1.8 million boxes due to gluten contamination, Quaker Oats announced they will now be offering “gluten-free" oat products.
Like General Mills, Quaker Oats will not be using oats grown/harvested/transported using a purity protocol. They are using regular oats that will be "cleaned" via mechanical or optical sorting methods.
Quaker Oats have also opted for the optical and mechanical sorting methods (aka “proprietary”) of removing gluten grains from their oats. However, Quaker Oats reportedly have instituted better testing protocols than their competitor.
Quaker Oats describes their gluten-free oats processing and testing protocols to Gluten Free Watchdog: http://bit.ly/1OiMboT
Purity Protocol Heros
Tricia Thompson, RD, founder of Gluten Free Watch Dog started building a list of companies that produce and use purity protocol oats.
Purity Protocol Oats List includes (updated Oct 30, 2019):
Creation Nation (uses Avena Foods)
Gianbia Nutritionals’ OatPure Gluten-Free Oats
MGM Seed & Grain Purity Protocol Oats
Montana Gluten-Free Processors
GF Jules (uses GF Harvest Organic)
The GFB Gluten-Free Bar (uses Avena Foods)
GlutenFreeda (uses Avena Foods)
Gluten-Free Prairie (uses Montana Gluten-Free Processors)
Libre Naturals (uses MGM Seed & Grain Purity Protocol Oats)
Only Oats (uses Avena Foods)
Step One Foods (uses GF Harvest and Montana Gluten-Free Processors)
Note: There is no standardization for purity protocol oats, so do your research. For a detail description of their policies & procedures, and their products, see Gluten-Free Watchdog's webpage:
It didn’t go unnoticed that a few popular gluten free companies are missing from the list above.
Why the fuss over Purity Protocol Oats? Again, it goes back to [the lack of] cross contamination with gluten [wheat, barley, rye].
For years, the gluten-free community have been told to only use pure, certified gluten-free oats due to the gluten contamination risks. In the past, this meant acceptable oats were produced and processed according to a purity protocol similar to the one described above.
Most recently, it's been difficult to determine the pedigree of oats used in a product. Companies do not always give clear answers when asked about the oats in their products. As some of the manufacturer's statements have shown (see below), they are using a combination of purity protocol oats and "cleaned" oats, or straight "cleaned" oats.
For a more detailed look at this aspect, please read Gluten-Free Watchdog's "Gluten-free oat production: Purity protocol versus mechanical or optical sorting: Does it matter to you?"
Purity Protocol Rebels
Below is a list companies using "cleaned" oats, according to Gluten-Free Watchdog's list.
Bakery On Main, based in East Hartford, CT
"A brand and communications marketing associate responded in part (via email on May 22, 2016), “Bakery On Main’s top priority has always been to provide great tasting products that all those with Celiac Disease can trust and know are safe. We recently decided to soon begin using the mechanically sorted oats in some of our products only due to the fact that the supplier that we will be working with has been third party certified gluten free by the GFCO.” Please contact Bakery On Main for more information."
Bob’s Red Mill, based in Milwaukie, OR
They first describe their gluten-free product protocol:
“For all of our gluten free products, we thoroughly batch test every product in our quality control laboratory upon delivery, during production and after packaging. We adhere to a standard of no more than 19 parts per million of gluten. Should a test show that a product exceeds that limit, it would be simply rejected and made unavailable for distribution to anyone. Every step in the production of our gluten free products is done in a separate gluten free packaging division complete with specialized machinery to make sure that our products maintain their purity.”
Then their oats (note, they use both purity protocol oats and optically sorted oats):
“Oats require special care to ensure that they are safely free from gluten. Bob’s Red Mill only sources from oat suppliers who are committed to practices for eliminating the presence of gluten.Our suppliers are innovative in controlling the presence of gluten by either avoiding crop rotation with gluten containing grains or using optical sorting technology to remove grain containing gluten. Regardless of our suppliers’ chosen methods for meeting our gluten free specification, we require that each lot is tested and confirmed gluten free before authorization for shipment to Bob’s Red Mill. To ensure that they stay just as gluten free as the day their seedlings sprouted from the earth, we test each batch in our quality control laboratory when they arrive from the farm, during production and once again after they are packaged in our dedicated gluten free facility.”
Nature's Path, based in Richmond, British Columbia Canada
They describe their oats:
“This is to confirm that Natures Path Foods has purchased the Country Choice brand name from Grain Millers. Grain Millers continue to be the supplier of our gluten free oats.”
Grain Millers have been mechanically separating oats since 2012, according to Gluten Free Watchdog.
Quaker Oats based in Chicago, IL
Quaker Gluten-Free Oatmeal
Quaker uses traditionally grown oats that have been mechanically and optically sorted to be gluten-free.
Finished product testing (as reported to Gluten Free Watchdog and confirmed July, 2016)
A 40-gram sample is taken from each pouch or tube.
The sample is homogenized.
Two extractions are taken from the homogenized sample and tested using the Ridascreen Gliadin R5 ELISA (R7001) Mendez Method.
If any single extraction from any of the 16 pouches or tubes is above 12 ppm gluten the entire lot is discarded.
Since beginning commercial runs, three early runs were above 12 ppm gluten and these lots were destroyed. Since taking corrective action, 25 additional lots have been run. All but one extraction from finished product gluten-free oatmeal tested below 5 ppm gluten; one extraction tested just above the lower limit of quantification of 5 ppm gluten (6 ppm).
UPDATE Jan 20, 2016: In email correspondence, Quaker writes, “we have continued to implement the testing protocol we shared with you for finished product. Out of our last 50 lots produced, we have had one lot test above 12 ppm; as a result, that entire lot of finished product was destroyed. All other lots produced met or exceeded our standards and were released into market.”
Quaker Oats Gluten-Free FAQ - Answers many questions consumers might ask about their oats.
Yes, even a gluten-free certified product may use mechanically separated or optically sorted oats in their products.
Bottom line, we don’t always know what type of oats are used in the product unless we ask the food manufacturer.
So many changes, so many details to remember; enough to make your head spin 'round-n-round. It's no wonder there is fear, dread and confusion.
Label reading skills are on the "must have" list in order to be successful. [Sorry, this will not be a How to Read Labels article; I'm saving that for another time, but you can learn more about reading labels here and here]
If you wish to by-pass almost all labeling reading - stick to single-ingredient whole foods. Fresh fruits and veggies, plain meats, seafood and poultry. Ever see an ingredient label on a head of broccoli? By far, this will be your best and most healthiest option.
However, in the event you find yourself in the packaged food aisles reading labels, you'll run into some strange and confusing ingredients. You'll need to know what they are and if they are gluten-free. Keep in mind, if the ingredient is gluten-free, it does not mean that it's healthy for you. Choose wisely!
Check out the links below...
Gluten-Free Living Magazine
Amaranth Herbs Quinoa Tapioca Arrowroot HVP or HPP Rice Teff Barley Lecithin Rye Teriyaki sauce Brewers yeast Malt Seasonings Tofu Buckwheat Maltodextrin Seitan Triticale Caramel color Millet Soba Vanilla Citric Acid Modified food starch Sorghum Vinegar Corn Mono and diglycerides Soy Wheat Dextrin Montina Soy Sauce Wheat Starch Flavors MSG Spelt Whey Glucose syrup Oat gum Spices* Xanthan gum Gluten Oats Starch Yeast Guar Gum Potato Sweet Potato
Gluten-Free Living Magazine
'Top 10 Ingredients you really don't need to worry about'
1. Caramel Color 4. Glucose Syrup 7. Maltodextrin 10. Vinegar 2. Citric Acid 5. Glue (envelopes) 8. Mono and diglycerides 3. Dextrose 6. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein and Hydrolyzed Plant Protein 9. Spices*
*Ground spices have been undergoing some investigation as of late. While single spices are inherently gluten-free, testing is beginning to show that various levels of contamination can be found - even if the spices are processed in a facility without gluten [they are presumably coming in contaminated].
Please check out these links...
Gluten Free Watchdog Report: Gluten Contamination of Spices
Canadian Food Inspection Agency Report: Gluten in Ground Spices
Updated: 12/10/15 - Fixed Gluten-Free Living link for Ingredients.