Gluten is a protein that makes grain particles stick together to make breads, pastas, cakes and cookies. Gluten is not a chemical added to grain or flour. It is a natural part of most grains. Grains containing gluten are wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, rye, oats, and triticale.
A true Celiac Disease Diet must be absolutely free of gluten and its derivatives to be effective. The legal definition of the phrase "gluten-free" can vary widely. For Celiacs, the FDA has proposed allowing a food to be labeled gluten-free if it contains less than 20 parts per million. Since ordinary wheat flour contains approximately 12% gluten, even a tiny amount of wheat flour can cross-contaminate a gluten-free product. Therefore, considerable care must be taken to prevent cross-contamination in both commercial and home food preparation.
Some foods contain gluten due to cross-contamination, even though there is no indication of this on their list of ingredients or label (and the item might still even be labeled a "gluten-free product"). Cross-contamination is a serious issue and many companies do regular Elisa batch testing to confirm the status of their gluten-free products. Thus, supposedly gluten-free products may or may not contain gluten, and the only way to be 100% certain is to test them.
So-- where to go? What to do? If you're trying gluten free products for the first time, the Gluten-Free Mall is a perfect place to start exploring new gluten-free recipes and gluten-free foods. This is the one place you can find a broad range of carefully evaluated gluten-free products.
For more information, please visit the author's Celiac Disease Information Site.