Prevention and Treatment

Wheat allergy can be treated by avoiding wheat-containing foods.

During prevention and adherence a healthy eating diet free of wheat may be more acceptable than a strict gluten-free diet.

During treatment of celiac disease it is compulsory to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. This is the only effective treatment method that ensures that patients with celiac will have an excellent digestion and normalized blood test results, as well as restoration of the normal structure of the intestinal lining.

The gluten-free diet won considerable popularity among the general population. Between 2004 and 2011 the market for gluten-free products is growing at a 28 % per annum (Gaesser and others. 2012). The Google search of “gluten-free diet” held on September 14 2015 gave 45.5 million results. The number one reason for purchasing gluten-free products is that they are perceived as healthier than gluten-containing ones. This notion is also reinforced by the opinion of celebrities who emphasize on the possible health benefits in avoiding gluten, including the reduction of weight.

Despite the health claims in favor of gluten-free diet, no published scientific evidence supports these claims concerning the general population. In fact, there is evidence showing that gluten itself may provide some health benefits and avoiding gluten cannot be justified for otherwise healthy individuals.

Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 of 30 July 2014 on the requirements for the provision of information to consumers on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food.

People with celiac disease suffer from a permanent intolerance to gluten. Wheat (i.e. all kinds of Triticum, such as durum wheat, spelta and Khorasan wheat), rye and barley have been identified to contain gluten. The gluten in these foods can lead to adverse health effects for people intolerant to gluten and therefore their consumption should be avoided.

Regulation (EC ) № 41/2009 on the Commission sets out harmonized rules on information provided to consumers about the absence ( “gluten-free ” ) or reduced presence of gluten (‘very low gluten’) in food. The rules of this Regulation are based on scientific data and ensure that consumers are not misled or confused by the information provided in different ways regarding the absence or reduced presence of gluten in the diet.

In the context of revision of the legislation on foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional use, Commission Regulation (EU) № 609/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council repeals Regulation (EC) № 41/2009 of the Commission from July 20 2009. The Regulation should ensure that after that date, information on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in the food continues to be based on relevant scientific data and it is not provided in a different way that might mislead or confuse consumers, in accordance with the requirements established in Article 36 (2) of Regulation (EU) № 1169/2011.

Some foods are specially produced, prepared and / or processed to reduce the gluten content of one or more gluten-containing ingredients or replace gluten-containing ingredients with other ingredients that are naturally gluten-free. Other foods are made exclusively from ingredients that are gluten-free.

The removal of gluten from gluten-containing grains presents considerable technical difficulties and economic constraints and therefore the manufacture of totally gluten-free foods using these grains is difficult. Therefore, many foods, especially those processed to reduce gluten, may contain small residual amounts of gluten.

Most people with gluten intolerance can include oats in their diet without adverse effect on their health. This is a matter of an ongoing study and research by the scientific community. However,  a major problem is the contamination of oats with wheat, rye or barley that can occur during harvesting, transport, storage and processing. Therefore, the risk of gluten contamination in products containing oats should be taken into account by food retailers, as well as the risk regarding the information provided on these food products.

Different people with gluten sensitivity may tolerate variable small amounts of gluten within certain limits. In order to enable people to find on the market a variety of foods suitable for their needs and for their level of sensitivity, there has to be a choice of various products with small amounts of gluten. However, it is important to label different products with the support of information campaigns in member states in order to ensure their proper use by people who are intolerant to gluten.

In accordance with the provisions of this Regulation it should be indicated absence (“gluten-free”) or reduced presence of gluten (“very low gluten”) on foods that are specially produced, prepared and / or processed to reduce the gluten content of one or more gluten-containing ingredients, or replacement of gluten-containing ingredients with other ingredients without gluten. Therefore it should be possible to inform consumers that this food is specially formulated for people gluten intolerance.

Provided that the general conditions for fair information practices set out in Regulation (EU) № 1169/2011 are met, foods that are containing ingredients without gluten or indicating the absence of gluten should be marked in accordance with the provisions of this Regulation. Especially, food information should not be misleading by suggesting that the food possesses special characteristics when in fact all similar foods possess such characteristics.

Directive 2006/141 / EC prohibits the use of ingredients containing gluten in the manufacture of food for infants. Therefore, the use of statements such as “very low gluten” or “gluten-free” in providing information on these products should be prohibited given that pursuant to this Regulation, these designations are used to indicate that the relevant content gluten does not exceed 100 mg / kg and 20 mg / kg.