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  • A gluten-free diet is recommended amongst other things in the treatment of coeliac disease and wheat allergy.
  • It is a diet completely free of ingredients derived from gluten-containing cereals: wheat, barley, rye, oats and triticale, as well as the use of gluten as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent.
  • Removing gluten from the diet will help stop the often painful symptoms and help prevent further damage to the intestinal lining. 
  • People wishing to follow a completely gluten free diet must also take into consideration the ingredients of any over-the-counter or prescription medications and vitamins. Also, cosmetics such as lipstick, lip balms, and lip gloss may contain gluten and need to be investigated before use.
  • Growing awareness coupled with proposed FDA regulations for gluten-free labeling means this market is rapidly growing.
  • The "Codex Alimentarius" set of international standards for food labelling has a standard relating to the labelling of products as "gluten free", however this standard does not apply to "foods which in their normal form do not contain gluten".
  • The legal definition of the phrase "gluten-free" varies from country to country. Current research suggests that for persons with celiac disease the maximum safe level of gluten in a finished product is probably less than 0.02% (200 parts per million) and possibly as little as 0.002% (20 parts per million).
  • Australian standards reserve the "gluten free" label for foods with less than 5 parts per million of gluten, as this is the smallest amount currently detectable.
  • The market is estimated to continue to grow at 25 percent per year.
  • In Europe, Ireland's Teagasc National Food Centre last year used a combination of potato starch and rice flour to improve the taste, texture and volume of gluten-free bread. The results have impressed manufacturers.
  • According to the researchers, five or six Irish bakeries are currently testing the gluten-free bread with a view to launching it on the market.
  • Research is also underway to develop new ingredient alternatives for gluten. Early this year, the US government's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) developed a wholegrain rice bread mix, with initial results suggesting the ingredients could be a viable alternative to wheat, rye and barley grains. 
  • The market for gluten-free foods and beverages in the US currently stands at almost $700m, and is due to reach around $1.7bn.
     

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