Study Finds Restaurants Allegedly Contaminate Gluten-Free Dishes With Gluten
Daniela KellyApril 25, 2019
with celiac disease know that minute traces of gluten in their foods
can harm them, and going out to eat isn’t always easy.
recent American Journal of Gastroenterology report found that over
half of gluten-free pizza and pasta in restaurants were positive for
gluten. A third of these foods that were alleged to be gluten-free
actually had some gluten in them.
research director at Columbia University Medical Center and New York
Presbyterian Hospital Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl said it was suspected that
foods labeled gluten-free were actually contaminated with gluten. He
said it’s not known how prevalent the situation is, but according
to the study, pizza, pasta and other foods served in the dinnertime
hour are affected.
said gluten-intolerant patients often suspect a consumption of gluten
when they go out to eat, even when foods are labeled as being
was able to secure data from the manufacturer of the Nima Gluten
Sensor, a portable device that people could use to test the foods
they believed had been contaminated with gluten. The company
provided him with more than 5,600 food tests submitted by 804 users
in an 18-month timeframe. Researchers reviewed the data and found 32
percent of the tests uncovered gluten-free dishes were actually
contaminated with gluten.
more than half the tests, gluten-free pasta tested positive, and 53
percent of gluten-free pizza actually had gluten in it. 34 percent of
dinners, 29 percent of lunches and 27 percent of breakfast with
gluten-free dishes had gluten in them.
said there were some limits to the data such as people testing what
they wanted to and choosing to upload those results to the
manufacturer. He made it clear that the findings did not mean that 32
percent of the foods were dangerous to eat for gluten-free intolerant
also said Nima is an extremely sensitive tool.
to U.S. guidelines, a food can be concerned gluten-free if it has
less than 20 parts per million, but Nima detects very low levels
(five to 10ppm) – readings that people find inconsequential.
Lebwohl said a food can have less than 20 ppm, be tested with the
device and still read as if it has gluten in it.
device sells for around $229, used in conjunction with $6 test strip
capsules. If the device finds gluten in the food, a wheat symbol will
appear. When it doesn’t detect gluten, a smile face will appear.
to Lebwohl, restaurants tend to accidentally contaminate their foods
with gluten – being made in the same equipment can lead to
cross-contamination. Gluten-free pasta being made in the same water
that gluten-laden pasta was just made in.
said the best way to avoid this issue is to educate the restaurant
industry. He said since one percent of Americans suffer from celiac
disease, a minute trace of gluten can cause them intestinal damage.