Gluten-Free on Menu May Not Mean Free of Gluten


A recent publication in the American Journal of Gastroenterology documented the presence of gluten in 27 percent of breakfast servings and 34 percent of dinners in restaurants. The detection rate was 53 percent in pizza and 51 percent in pasta.

The study was conducted over 18-months by volunteers using a Nima gluten instrument with a detection limit of 20 ppm gluten. A total of 804 participants performed 5,624 tests with an overall detection rate of 32 percent.

The clinical significance of the findings is unknown. Less than seven percent of the U.S. population is sensitive to gluten a wheat-derived protein. This demographic comprises 1 percent affected by celiac disease and an additional 5 percent sensitive to gluten. It is important that these consumers should be aware of gluten in meals consumed either in restaurants or at home to avoid an adverse clinical response. For most of the U.S. population, the presence of gluten in food is of no significance and there is no health benefit to be derived from consuming a "gluten-free" diet. The fact that 30 percent of meals contained gluten in the study despite a "gluten-free" claim and in the absence of reported reactions, it must be accepted suggests that gluten is innocuous to other than those who are diagnosed as sensitive.