Questions related to: Can I eat maltodextrin?

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Why do you not have barcodes for all products listed in the Directory?

Since the development of our mobile app, barcodes have become an important piece of information to ensure that the scanning function works. Manufacturers and retailers with online shops list all their products, not just gluten-free ones, including the barcode information with Brandbank. We have been working with Brandbank to increase the number of products listed in the directory and the percentage with barcodes. By using this data we have been able to increase the number of products listed in the 2015 directory by 50% and the number of products with barcodes to 97%.

Can I eat oats?

Oats do not contain gluten. They contain a similar protein called avenin and research has shown that most people with coeliac disease can safely eat avenin.

The main problem with a lot of the oats and oat products that you find in the supermarket is that they are very often contaminated with gluten from wheat, rye or barley during processing (such as harvesting or milling). Therefore, oats that are NOT labelled as gluten free should always be avoided.

Many specialist manufacturers now produce gluten free oats. 

If you have an ongoing symptoms or any concerns about including gluten free oats in your diet, please speak to your health professional.  

I've heard spelt is suitable for people with coeliac disease. Is this true?

No. Spelt is an ancient strain of wheat and contains gluten. It is not suitable for people with coeliac disease.

Is Chinese soy sauce gluten free?

No. Chinese soy sauce is traditionally made with wheat, which makes it unsuitable for people with coeliac disease. If wheat flour has been used as an ingredient, this must be listed on the ingredients list. Gluten free versions are available in the 'Free From' section of most major supermarkets. There are also some types of tamari soy sauce which are suitable. These are listed on our online Food and Drink Information Service.

 

Can I eat whey powder?

Whey is produced from milk and does not contain gluten.

Can I eat communion wafers?

Wheat, a cereal that contains gluten, is the only substance authorised by the Roman Catholic Church to make Eucharistic bread.

There are special ‘low gluten’ hosts that have been approved for use by individuals with coeliac disease when taking Communion. These products contain wheat starch, but are within the levels for labelling gluten free. Other churches allow communion wafers to be taken which are made entirely from gluten free ingredients and often suppliers will sell two different varieties.

A number of companies produce communion wafers that are suitable for people with coeliac disease. These are often available via mail order. Please see our communion wafer list for a full list of suppliers and the wafers available. Before ordering as an individual it is worth talking to your church as their usual church supplier can sometimes order these for you and minimise delivery charges.

To reduce the risk of contamination with gluten from gluten containing hosts, we would advise that your communion wafers are stored and presented separately. Some people may prefer to abstain from taking communion in the conventional way and have a blessing instead.

What alcohol can I drink?

Cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs are gluten free.

Distilled spirits only contain gluten if gluten containing ingredients are added after the distillation process. In this case, there is labelling legislation that ensures the product label clearly states if wheat, barley, rye or oats have been added.

Distillation involves prolonged heating to produce a vapour and different components will vaporise at different temperatures so they can be separated. The vapour is then collected and cooled to form a distillate (liquid alcoholic drink). 

Gluten does not form a vapour so even if the starting ingredient is wheat, barley or rye, gluten does not pass into the final distilled liquid.  

Drinks with an alcoholic strength by volume (abv) of more than 1.2% do not have to list all ingredients. If they contain an allergen (including gluten containing cereals) they must declare this on the packaging, for example ‘contains wheat’.

An exception, is if the name of the drink contains the name of the allergen, for example ‘wheat beer’, then a statement, ‘contains wheat’ is not required. It should however be clear on the packaging which allergens are present.

Beer, lagers, stouts and ales are not distilled and undergo a different process known as fermentation and contain varying amounts of gluten and are not suitable for a gluten free diet but there are gluten free options available.

There are two types of gluten free beer, naturally gluten free beer and gluten removed gluten free beer. For both types, by law, manufacturers can only label a beer gluten free if it contains 20 ppm or less of gluten. In addition, a gluten removed gluten free beer made from barley must, by allergen labelling law, state on the label that it ‘contains barley’. For more information about fermented,  hydrolysed products please read our article.

Specially manufactured gluten free beers, lagers and ales are available and are listed in Section 1 of our Food and Drink Guide, in our Gluten Free Food Checker app and online Food and Drink Information.

Alcohol can have side effects whether or not you have coeliac disease.  Information on sensible drinking can be found on the NHS website.

More information on alcohol can be found on our website.

Find out more about analysis of gluten in fermented and hydrolysed GF products here.

This information is based on the advice of our Food Standards Committee, Health Advisory Council and/or the Prolamin Working Group

How can beer be certified as gluten free?

By law, manufacturers can only label their beer gluten free if it contains 20 ppm or less of gluten. Laboratory testing is the best way to assess the amount of gluten in a product, but there can be difficulties when testing beer using the usual R5 ELISA Sandwich method (commonly used for foods), due to the gluten being broken down. An alternative method is available (R5 ELISA Competitive) which is a more effective way to measure the gluten in beer and other hydrolysed or fermented products.

Scientists continue to explore other techniques to try to further advance the analysis of gluten in food and drink products such as mass spectrometry, PCR (polymerase chain reaction), aptamers. There are pros and cons with all testing methods and we look to the experts for the very best and latest advice such as the Prolamin Working Group , Codex Alimentarius and our Food Standards Committee. The approved method for testing gluten in beers is currently the R5 ELISA Competitive method but Coeliac UK and producers remain engaged with experts and global research exploring potential new test methods.

Find out more about how gluten free beer is made by clicking here.

This information is based on the advice of our Food Standards Committee, Health Advisory Council and/or the Prolamin Working Group.

Find out more about analysis of gluten in fermented and hydrolysed GF products here.

Is it compulsory for manufacturers or caterers to indicate whether a product is suitable for people with coeliac disease?

No. Labelling products gluten free is voluntary. It is important to remember that there is a defined threshold for being able to label a food product gluten free. Only foods that contain 20 ppm or less can be labelled gluten free. However, there is no law that requires businesses to carry out gluten analysis on products labelled gluten free, but it is recognised that good practice will involve testing.

You can find out more on food labels.

 

 

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