What is gluten intolerance?
With gluten intolerance, the body reacts hypersensitively to the gluten protein of some cereals... In infants and children, gluten intolerance is called celiac disease; in adults, on the other hand, it is referred to as native sprue. In technical terms, gluten intolerance is called gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
What is triggered by gluten intolerance?
Gluten intolerance means that the consumption of gluten-containing foods destroys the mucous membrane of the small intestine. This impairs digestion and the intake of food. Due to permanent contact with gluten, the finger-like elevations of the intestinal interior (small intestine villi) atrophy. The intestinal surface becomes smooth and can only fulfil the task of nutrient transport to a limited extent. The function of the mucous membrane of the small intestine can be restored by a gluten-free diet.
Which foods contain gluten?
Gluten is contained in wheat (i.e. all types of triticum such as hard and soft wheat, spelt or spelt or green spelt [already harvested and roasted at milk ripeness], kamut, emmer, einkorn), barley and rye. The gluten of wheat is composed of the protein fractions "gliadins" (prolamin fraction) and "glutenins" (glutelin fraction). Prolamines and glutelines occur in wheat in a ratio of about 1 : 1.
In contrast, quinoa, amaranth, maize, rice, millet, soya, wild rice, buckwheat, pulses, sesame seeds, poppies, linseed or nuts are gluten-free.
Oats contain glutelins, but their prolamin fraction differs in amino acid sequence from other cereals and does not appear to be as damaging to gluten-sensitive humans. However, oats are not yet recommended for gluten-free nutrition in German-speaking countries, as contamination by gluten-containing cereals cannot be ruled out.
Gluten intolerance is a chronic disease that can occur at any age. On average, one in 500 people in Germany suffers from gluten intolerance (women more often than men).
For foodstuffs consisting of or containing one or more ingredients of wheat, rye, barley, oats or their cross-breeds or which have been specially processed to reduce their gluten content, the following claims may be used for sale to the final consumer (Commission implementing Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 of 30.07.2014 on requirements for the provision of information to consumers on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in foodstuffs):
- very low gluten content
The term 'very low gluten' may be used only if a food consisting of or containing one or more ingredients of wheat, rye, barley, oats or cross-breeds of these cereals, processed specifically to reduce their gluten content, has a gluten content not exceeding 100 mg/kg when sold to the final consumer.
The term 'gluten-free' may only be used if a food has a gluten content not exceeding 20 mg/kg when sold to the final consumer.
Oats in foods for humans intolerant to gluten must be produced, prepared and/or processed in such a way as to avoid contamination by wheat, rye, barley or their crosses; the gluten content of this oat must not exceed 20 mg/kg (l).
Both indications may in future be replaced by the addition
"Suitable for people with gluten intolerance" / "Suitable for people with coeliac condition"
can be supplemented. If the food has been specially produced, prepared and/or processed in order to reduce the gluten content of the gluten-containing ingredients or to replace them with naturally gluten-free ingredients, Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 allows the labelling indication
"Specially formulated for people with gluten intolerance" / "Specially formulated for people with celiac disease"
can be used.
Information on the absence or reduced presence of gluten is explicitly prohibited for infant formulae and follow-on formulae under Directive 2006/141/EC.