Gluten-Free Labelled Food At Restaurants Not Free Of Gluten: Study

According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, more than half of gluten-free pizza and pasta dishes in restaurants tested positive for the presence of gluten.

NDTV Food Desk  |  Updated: April 06, 2019 14:32 IST

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Gluten-Free Labelled Food At Restaurants Not Free Of Gluten: Study

If you happen to have gluten intolerance or suffer from celiac disease, then you would always be on the hunt to find gluten-free foods. No matter how much you try, it gets a tad bit difficult to avoid the protein when you are dining outside in restaurants and cafes. But now you've got to be even more careful. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, more than half of gluten-free pizza and pasta dishes in restaurants tested positive for the presence of gluten. About one-third of foods that were supposedly labelled gluten-free had detectable gluten.

"Patients have long suspected that gluten contamination in restaurant foods is a frequent occurrence, and these results support that," said Benjamin Lebwohl, founder of the theory. "Our findings suggest that pizza, pasta and foods served at dinner were more likely to have a problem," he added.

The restaurateurs use a portable device called Nima Gluten Sensor to test foods and upload the data. For the study, the researchers used that data. For over a period of 18 months, the manufacturer supplied 5,624 food tests by 804 users. As per the findings of the study, 32 per cent of tests revealed detectable gluten in dishes that were supposed to be gluten-free. 

Gluten-free pasta samples were positive in 51 per cent of tests; gluten-free pizza contained gluten for 53 per cent. Gluten was detected in 27 per cent of breakfasts, 29 per cent of lunches and 34 per cent of dinners.

There are limitations to the data, notes Lebwohl. "Users may have uploaded results that surprised them the most. Also, the device is very sensitive. To be labelled gluten-free in the U.S., a product must contain less than 20 parts per million. The device can detect levels as low as 5 to 10 ppm, which most do not consider clinically significant, so a 'gluten found' result does not necessarily mean 'unsafe for celiac disease.' Also, there are certain forms of gluten, such as fermented gluten. So both false positives and false negatives will affect this estimate," he said.

While the researchers believe that most of the food available contains more of gluten, they concluded by saying that while preparing the food, the food preparers need to be more aware and responsible in a way that it does not affect the health of the people.

With Inputs From ANI

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