Gluten Sensitivity - Gluten Sources

Gluten Sources

Politics of Gluten-Free and Oats
Current guidelines
As a consequence, the current international standard for the "Gluten-free" designation, drafted in 1981 and agreed on in 1983 within the Codex Alimentarius (CA), states:

For the purpose of this standard, gluten is defined as those proteins, commonly found in wheat, triticale, rye, barley or oats to which some persons are intolerant.

The American Dietetic Association’s Nutrition Care Manual position on the use of oats in a medically necessitated gluten-free diet is:

However, commercially available oats in the United States may be contaminated with small amounts of wheat, barley, or rye. For this reason, if you are newly diagnosed with celiac disease, you should not eat oats. Once your intestine heals, you may want to discuss the use of oats with your dietitian and physician.

indicating the need for a separate standard of purity for people with gluten sensitivity.

New standards in development
Codex Alimentarius is undergoing revision and a revised standard will be presented at the meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission at the end of June 2008. The proposed standard limits the amount of contaminant in product that would qualify that product as gluten-free:

Gluten-free foods are dietary foods a) consisting of or made only from one or more ingredients which do not contain wheat (i.e., all Triticum species, such as durum wheat, spelt, and kamut), rye, barley, oats1 or their crossbred varieties, and the gluten level does not exceed 20 mg/kg in total, based on the food as sold or distributed to the consumer, and/or b) consisting of one or more ingredients from wheat (i.e., all Triticum species, such as durum wheat, spelt, and kamut), rye, barley, oats1 or their crossbred varieties, which have been specially processed to remove gluten, and the gluten level does not exceed 20 mg/kg in total, based on the food as sold or distributed to the consumer.

1 The Committee agreed to specify that the allowance of oats that are not contaminated with wheat, rye or barley in foods covered by the standard may be determined at national level."

In realizing the benefit of whole oats in a gluten free diet, the Canadian Celiac Association sought to assure oats and oat products fulfill the gluten-free standards set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada:

in consultation with Health Canada, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, has established requirements for growing, processing, and purity testing and labelling of pure oats.

From the perspective of gluten sensitivity there is no single definition of gluten that concisely defines all potentially pathogenic glutens. With wheat allergies, there can be a wide spectrum of species that may trigger allergies with similar proteins, the omega-gliadin proteins have similar proteins found in oats at high frequency, but omega-gliadin allergy is not a predictor of oat allergy or intolerance. A person can have an allergy to wheat, but not rye.

Glutelins have not been characterized over broad taxa. With idiopathic gluten sensitivity, the antibodies that correlate with disease are anti-gliadin antibodies. Whether these antibodies are pathogenic or are simply indicators of circulating gliadin is unknown. For gluten-sensitive enteropathy, gliadin and homologous proteins from rye and barley cause disease. T-cell epitopes implicated in disease have been found in glutinous protein genes in all species sequenced within the tribe Triticeae.

Also, since barley is distantly related to wheat, but carries pathogenic epitopes it can be assumed that all members of Triticeae should carry T-cell sites capable of sustaining disease (see also Genetics of Triticeae). While often not explicitly stated in some standards, pathogenic glutens found in wheat are also found in Spelt and Kamut (both types of wheat), Triticale (a trans-species Triticeae hybrid).

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