Products with harmless levels to be labled ‘gluten-free'

Until now, any amount forced manufacturers to label product as having gluten, making it difficult for celiac patients to find food.

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December 28, 2010 03:01
1 minute read.
Wheat

Wheat 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Food products that have a maximum of 20 parts per million (PPM) of gluten – which according to experts is not enough to cause abdominal and other problems in celiac patients – will soon be labelled as having “No Gluten.”

Until now, any amount present would force manufacturers to label the product as having gluten, thus making it very difficult for celiac patients to find processed food they could safely eat.

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One out of 75 Israelis has celiac disease, and many of them are unaware of it.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from babyhood onward. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea, children’s failure to thrive and fatigue, but in some people, the symptoms are not evident.

The disorder results from a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat and similar proteins found in other common grains such as barley and rye. Gluten is not found in corn or rice, for example.

When exposed to gluten, the celiac patient’s immune system interacts with the small-bowel tissue, causing an inflammatory reaction. That leads to atrophy of the villi lining the small intestine and ineffective absorption of nutrients. The only cure is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

The new decision on labels was made on Monday by the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee, headed by Likud MK Haim Katz, which unanimously approved it. Thus Israel joins many other Western countries, which allow up to 20 PPM of gluten in “gluten-free” products.

The regulation will come into effect immediately after their publication in Reshumot, the Knesset gazette.

Katz said the new rule will ease the lives of celiac patients.

Lior Harish of the Celiac Association added it was “a great day for children [and adults] with celiac. Israel companies will be able to put products for them on the shelves that until now were allowed only for export to countries that approved the 20 PPM rule,” he said.


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