If you walk into your local health food store or grocery store you will notice that the range of gluten-free products being sold has increased dramatically over the last few years. Companies are starting to notice the need for gluten-free products and are beginning to provide a larger range. Which is great! They are catering to those who are unable to have the gluten protein due to different medical conditions.
However, although there has been an increase in the number of products, there has also been an increase in the number of recalls on these products. As well as there have been risks of cross-contamination with the gluten protein. There was just an example of this, this month when there was a recall on a Rice Porridge brand for detection of gluten.
This is calling for stricter testing and more transparency around the gluten-free testing process.
What is gluten-free?
Gluten-free means that the product or ingredients within a product are free from the protein combinations that form gluten. When you see products such as flours or premade foods such as biscuits and cakes that are labelled gluten-free, this should mean that the company has a test report that confirms that the final product is in fact made with ingredients that are all free of the gluten protein.
In Australia, we have very strict labelling laws which mean that a product that is labelled as gluten-free must in fact be gluten-free without the risk of cross-contamination. This is why typically oats are not labelled as gluten-free. Because there is a risk that they could have come in contact with gluten grains such as wheat, rye and barley throughout the processing and supply chain.
Are the products tested?
There is a testing process that the products need to go through and guidelines that need to be met in order for a product to be sold in Australia labelled gluten-free. In Australia, the labelling laws are very strict. They outline there needs to be a zero level of gluten content in the product in order for it to be allowed to have a gluten-free label on it. However, understand the 0 = <3ppm which is the lowest the machines test to. Please note that here at GF Oats headquarters, we test each oats batch that comes in and display these test results on our Compliance page.
However recently, a variety of different products from supermarkets were independently tested. These results found, in numerous cases actually, that some products do have traces of gluten in them above the recommended minimum. This is rather disturbing for those who cannot tolerate any gluten.
Products such as Honey and Soap are ones to be aware of as well as they use thickeners and fillers in each of these to bind, bulk or thin. Here at GF Oats, we shared a bit about honey in one of our blogs recently, you can read here when we introduced a beautiful Raw Gluten-Free Honey into our online range.
Our GF Oat Face Soap and Body Soap just a new addition to our Oat collections. So far the feedback has been awesome on these beautiful handmade creations made locally just for us. We feature the Quick Oats in this product. We also shared some information on the many benefits of Oats for the skin on our blog. Your skin can absorb unwanted gluten through the pores of your skin when using personal care products, so do watch ingredients.
What can happen if gluten is consumed?
There are a number of different circumstances in which a person decides to cut gluten from their diets. There are people that suffer from coeliac disease and as such can not consume gluten without adverse effects on their bodies. The effects can be minor, or they can cause quite severe reactions to the body.
People may also cut gluten out of their diets due to a sensitivity to the gluten proteins. These attacks can be a lot more minor than those with coeliac however can still cause pain, illness and discomfort for them if consumed.
What can be done to better the testing?
There needs to be more transparency around the gluten-free testing of foods that are marketed and labelled as gluten-free. In many cases, a large batch will be produced and then only a small sample tested. This is adequate if the testing is in fact done regularly and part of the compliance.
In order to ensure products aren’t contaminated customers are calling for multiple gluten-free testing phases throughout the growing, harvesting, processing and packaging stages of the product. This does, however, result in gluten-free ingredients being more expensive.
Test results should also be more readily available from companies for people to have access. So they can be reassured that they are in fact consuming a product that is free from gluten.
Professor Forbes from The University of Western Australia has recently published an article in the medical journals that states that the findings of recent testing are concerning and unsatisfactory.
The current testing is not governed by the Federal or State Governments and there is no requirement of reporting of the testing. Meaning companies can simply say that they have tested and there is no trace of the protein.
The Risks Are Not Worth Taking
The risks of gluten consumption for those who are needing a gluten-free diet are not worth taking. And a person who picks up a product that is labelled gluten-free should be able to do so without the risk of adverse reactions. The companies providing these products should be held accountable and be taking not only more care in their processing and testing, but they should be more transparent about it. They should supply test results, share their findings and keep a relationship with their customers.
GF Oats come from GF Harvest in the USA. The Smith Family are a family all diagnosed as Coeliac and understand that their consumers require and an “Oats they can Trust” to add to their diets each and every day if they require. Oats are a wonderful substitute to the GMO soy, corn and sugar-laden product that are currently available in the gluten-free sections of supermarkets and health food shops in the breakfast and snack categories.
Shop for your GF Oats products in our online store.