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FACTS Wheat & Gluten Testing article published
June 2010

FACTS conducted a study on products that contain wheat and/or gluten free claims. This concern was raised because of the food allergies that are affecting people worldwide. Food allergies are estimated to affect approximately 1-2% of the adult population and up to 8% of children, and this incidence is reported to be increasing.

Twenty-five products were analysed, including spelt products, flours of buckwheat, barley, rye, rice, millet, maize, semolina, triticale, oats, porridges, rice- and maize-based cereals, and rye bread. The rye and barley flours and two oat products were shown to be contaminated with wheat. Ten out of 17 naturally gluten-free products contained gluten, although in 13 of these the levels were below 20 mg/kg. The labels of four products were found to be misleading in terms of the gluten and/or wheat claims made. Keywords such as: celiac disease; food allergy; gluten; wheat; gliadin; immunoreactive; allergenicity; allergens; allergy were present on the label.

This study illustrates that certain products on the South African market may make misleading claims with regards to the absence of wheat (e.g. spelt flakes and spelt cakes) and gluten (e.g. rye flour, buckwheat flour, spelt cakes and rye bread).