How Free of Gluten are “Glutenfree” Labeled Products Really?

Flickr - Wheat - maartynDr. Rivkah Roth, Green Med Info
Waking Times

Mainstream and natural medicine agree:

No matter if non-celiac and/or celiac gluten sensitive, an individual sensitive to gluten needs to adopt a 100% glutenfree diet (GFD) and lifestyle!

Over more or less time on a GFD most related symptoms should disappear. But, as little as 1 gram daily gluten from contamination can lead to refractory (unresponsive) disease and trigger secondary health challenges.

Such ongoing issues include in no particular order: mineral imbalances and deficiencies, RA, polymyalgia rheumatica, anxiety, depression, psoriasis and other skin diseases, hypothyroidism, diabetes, lack of energy, UTI, gallbladder disease, a large spectrum of autoimmune challenges and more.

We routinely suggest a “Fresh Food Finds Friends™” approach to the glutenfree diet for our patients.

However, day in and day out, we see patients who claim to stick to “glutenfree” products faithfully but whose symptoms don’t disappear, shift, or even deteriorate. In fact, some even complain about gluten related symptoms they never experienced prior to going on a GFD.

Most Common Reasons for Persisting Symptoms

In most cases when supposedly glutenfree individuals continue to experience symptoms it turns out that there are five possible reasons or triggers:

    1. They replaced their former high-carb gluten diet with another high-carb form of processed foods (albeit misleadingly labeled “glutenfree”)…
    2. They have not eliminated common co-allergens such as casein (lactose / dairy), albumin (eggs), legumes (soy, lentils, etc. etc.)…
    3. They experience cross-reactions to coffee, brewers yeast, lactose, etc. (the immune system misreads these substances as gluten and reacts accordingly)…
    4. They show a direct reaction to hidden gluten or common products cultured on wheat, barley, corn, soy such as Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Gum (Carob), Microbial Enzymes, Bacterial Cultures, etc….
    5. They have not eliminated gluten from personal care products, shampoos, lipstick etc. as well as cleaning products containing hidden or obvious gluten.

    A “Glutenfree” Label Does Not Guarantee a Product “Free of Gluten”

    Marketing works as long as we gullibly believe what we read or what we see on TV. Sadly, global statements and marketing practices even have many nutritionist and MDs buy into a superficial understanding.

    We assume that a “glutenfree” label means that there is zero gluten in those products. But that is not so!

    Glutenfree labeling is a jungle of different standards, seals and certifications by no particular authority on gluten and measuring of the presence of gluten. Proper oversight does not exist. Arbitrarily adopted standards devoid of conclusive direction and follow-ups are common.

    In order for a product manufacturer to obtain the right to call something “glutenfree” there exist several different standards as to permissible levels of gluten. Note, I wrote “permissible levels of gluten” – that means there IS gluten present.

    Among the most common “standards” are the following measured in “parts per mille” (PPM) – all levels unacceptable for a person who experiences health challenges and, for sure, unacceptable for anyone diagnosed with either non-celiac and/or celiac gluten sensitivity:

    The Most Popular Standards for “Glutenfree” Labeling

    <20 PPM

    <10 PPM

    <5 PPM



    • None of these standards take into account potential hidden gluten and cross-reactors such legumes, gums, enzymes brewers yeast, etc.
    • As long as a gluten sensitive individual consumes any of these “glutenfree” labeled products, their immune system may continue to produce antibodies.

    <20PPM “Glutenfree” is Not Free of Gluten!

    Many of the big and well-known “glutenfree” labeling manufacturers follow the <20PPM rule for labeling of their products.

    Sources of hidden gluten are rarely disclosed. Even worse, many of these glutenfree labeled products are manufactured on shared lines or facilities that process obvious gluten containing products.

    The following list is partial and subject to updating.

    Gluten 20PPM Table

    <10PPM “Glutenfree” is Still Not Free of Gluten!

    Many of the midsize and less well-known glutenfree manufacturers follow the 10PPM rule for labeling their products glutenfree.

    Sources of hidden gluten are rarely disclosed. Many of these glutenfree labeled products are manufactured on shared lines or facilities that process obvious gluten containing products.

    Furthermore, some companies include oats despite the fact that it is practically impossible to get uncontaminated oats in North-America. This practice is unacceptable since a significant majority of non-celiac and/or celiac gluten sensitive individuals do react to oats.

    The following list is partial and subject to updating.

    Gluten10PPM Table

    <5PPM “Glutenfree” is Not Free of Gluten!

    A couple of the big and well-known glutenfree manufacturers as well as several niche producers follow the <5PPM rule for labeling their products glutenfree.

    Sources of hidden gluten and cross-reactors are rarely disclosed. However, even these producers frequently manufacture in dedicated facilities that process obvious gluten containing products.

    The following list is partial and subject to updating.

    Gluten 5PPM Table(1)

    Unknown “Glutenfree” is Not Free of Gluten!

    And then, there are many products including the following that are or are claiming “glutenfree” status but are not grouped at a certain level.

    The following list is partial and subject to updating.

    Gluten PPM-Unknown Table

    The Answer: Follow a Fresh Food Diet Truly Free of Gluten

    Looking at the above info the consequences become clear: All speaks for going true glutenfree, i.e. the “Fresh Food Finds Friends™” approach compatible with the paleo glutenfree approach of consuming fresh products only.

    In short, for a true and safe glutenfree approach avoid everything from a box, can, tin, bag or other package, and anything processed in a factory processing any kinds of grains – glutenfree or not.

    About the Author

    Rivkah Roth DO DNM®, author of At Risk? Avoid Diabetes by Recognizing Early Risk – A Natural Medicine View and the DIABETES-Series Little Books is a semi-retired natural health professional and lecturer with doctorates in osteopathy, natural medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. She practiced and taught in Canada, Switzerland and Israel, and specializes in non-celiac and celiac gluten sensitivity, early diabetes risk recognition and avoidance, fibromyalgia and other autoimmune and inflammation-related pain and structural challenges. For further information:

    Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Waking Times or its staff.

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