Digestive Disease Week

Digestive Disease Week

Perspective from Joseph A. Murray, MD
May 16, 2015
2 min read

Significant amounts of gluten may be present in probiotics

Perspective from Joseph A. Murray, MD
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WASHINGTON — Gluten-free labeling does not accurately reflect gluten content in probiotics, which may be significantly high, according to data released in advance of Digestive Disease Week.

Aiming to measure gluten levels in popular probiotics, Samantha Nazareth, MD, from Columbia/NY-Presbyterian, and colleagues used liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis to evaluate 22 brands of probiotics based on popularity in the US market. They noted that 68% of the probiotics evaluated were labeled gluten-free.

Samantha Nazareth

They found that 55% of the probiotics evaluated contained gluten, of which 67% were labeled gluten-free. Gluten was present in 53% of the probiotics with gluten-free labels including 13% that exceeded the 20 parts per million threshold permitted by the FDA. Of the products that did not have gluten-free labels, 57% contained gluten including 29% that exceeded the FDA threshold. More than one gluten component (wheat, rye or barley) was detectable in 18% of all probiotics evaluated, two of which had gluten-free labels.

The researchers concluded that gluten may be present in significant amounts in probiotics, “especially if one considers the cumulative number of capsules consumed. [Gluten-free] labeling does not accurately reflect gluten content of probiotics, and [celiac disease] patients should therefore be advised of the potential contamination of probiotics with gluten, regardless of labeling.” – by Adam Leitenberger


Nazareth S, et al. Abstract 108. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week, May 16-19, 2015; Washington, D.C. 

Disclosure: Nazareth reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the DDW faculty disclosure index for all other researchers’ relevant financial disclosures.