One-third of ‘gluten-free’ restaurant food contains gluten
PHILADELPHIA — As much as one-third of food labeled as gluten-free in restaurants are contaminated with gluten, according to research presented at the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting.
“Restaurants are now offering gluten-free options more than ever before,” Benjamin A. Lerner, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center, said during his presentation. “While the FDA regulates packaged foods claiming to be gluten-free, no similar oversight exists for restaurants.”
Using crowd-sourced data from users of Nima (Nima Labs), a portable gluten detection device, Lerner and colleagues determined the rates and risk factors for gluten contamination for restaurants throughout the United States.
Over the course of 18 months, 804 Nima users submitted 5,624 tests that all included information on the date, food item, restaurant name, presence or absence of a gluten-free label, and the presence or absence of gluten.
Of 4,732 tested items with a gluten-free label, 32.2% contained gluten, slightly higher than the percentage of all tested foods that contained gluten (32%). Compared with other foods, gluten-free labeled pasta and pizza were the most likely kinds of foods to be contaminated with 53.2% (OR = 2.5; 95% CI, 2–3.2) and 50.8% (OR = 2.1; 95% CI, 1.5–3.1) of tests detecting gluten, respectively.
Researchers found that gluten was most likely to be detected during dinner (34%) compared with a low during breakfast (27.2%). Gluten-free labeled food from restaurants in the western region of the United States were less likely to contain gluten than foods from restaurants in the northeast (OR = 0.8; 95% CI, 0.67–0.95).
“Future studies should use our findings to identify mechanisms of contamination and test interventions to reduce it, thereby improving adherence to gluten-free diets by patients with celiac disease,” Lerner said. – by Alex Young
Lerner BA, et al. Abstract 8. Presented at: American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting; Oct. 5-10, 2018; Philadelphia.
Disclosure: Lerner reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study abstract for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.