The constant moving target of gluten is creating serious challenges:
1) Food manufacturers play catch-up as science uncovers more about gluten, leading to expensive changes.
2) Retailers have more than just gluten-free foods to deal with and are struggling to keep up with the info and answer consumer questions.
3) The consumer ultimately pays the highest price, with their health…
…Consider 3x higher mortality(1) with celiac disease in both adults and children(2) who are following current medical and government guidelines. 3x higher mortality and 2-8x higher in several, some fatal, diseases — with the only prescription being a gluten-free diet.
THE FUTURE OF GLUTEN FREE FOODS
CAGR might rise and fall, but overall demand for gluten free food still has the highest consistent rise in food history. And it will continue to rise because science is proving humans can’t digest gluten. ALL humans, at varying degrees, are reacting…
“…gliadin exposure induces an increase in intestinal permeability in all individuals, regardless of whether or not they have celiac disease.”(3)
MOVING TARGET: What is actually gluten free?
Example: Oats. As of 2017, Health Canada declared oats will no longer be classified as gluten free because there are simply too many studies showing adverse reactions. Not so with the FDA and many other agencies in various countries. Give it time. But for food companies producing products with oats and labeling them GF, making a switch now would be getting ahead of the curve. …And oats are not the only food that are currently classified as gluten free, when they shouldn’t be.
MOVING TARGET: Are 20 PPMs really celiac-safe?
PPMs (parts per million) have seen decreases from 500 to 100 to 50 to 20 (United States / UK), to 10 (Canada), to 0 (Australia). The key here is that while some countries are stepping forward with the science and confirming reactions even at 10 and 20 PPM, others are being lobbied too hard to go there. Déjà vu, smoking was “safe” for five decades before the corruption collapsed.
On a personal note, as someone who lives with acute Celiac Disease herself, what will governments be saying 10 years from now? “We knew 20 PPMs were harmful and raising mortality and co-morbidity rates, but…” But what?
Food manufacturers have an expensive (and ethical) decision to make.
The dilemma is real. Food manufacturers need to decide if they will make changes ahead of the law, and if they do, perhaps education needs to take the forefront of their marketing plans. When someone who suffers from gluten at a medical level understands why Product A is more expensive than Product B, chances are they’ll put their health first and pay the extra dollar for that item.
So far, it’s been Buyer Beware, and most buyers are far from aware…
…It’s one of the reasons that over 30% of patients diagnosed with Celiac Disease never get to wellness. These are patients who adhere strictly to the gluten free diet for 1, 2, 12 years(4,5,6), and remain sick. Clearly, something is amiss.
The 30% figure seems extremely high, yet I challenge that number as low because most patients are asymptomatic. We’re getting the data of 30-32% from patients suffering symptoms, seeing their doctor, and follow-up biopsy showing intestinal damage.
…What we’re not seeing are the patients who think they’re fine, but die prematurely or are diagnosed years down the line from a disease they could have prevented. We’re often measuring the gut damage during autopsy, not biopsy.
THERE ARE SOLUTIONS TO ALL THIS
The question is, which food companies will be progressive enough to take them.
1) Hire a gluten-specialized consultant who goes beyond standard guidelines and can give you tomorrow’s edge, today. Due Diligence: This is someone who must be outside the self-regulated gluten-free certification companies, who are all private agencies with most — not all — following loose government standards.
2) Have them work with your sourcing department to assess current ingredients.
3) Have them work with R & D for next generation products to be bullet-proof GF so that federal guidelines almost become irrelevant for you. The added benefit: You won’t have to make modifications to export to countries with stricter laws.
4) Have them work with Quality Control to ensure safety and prevent expensive recalls, lawsuits, and simply do the right thing: Protect the customer.
5) Have them provide advanced, science-based data for your marketing team to communicate to consumers. You’re miles ahead of the competition, make sure everyone knows it.
There’s an opportunity to be a hero here, and gain unparalleled customer loyalty for all the right reasons.
(1) JAMA, Sept 16, 2009, Vol 302, No.11
(2) Am J Gastroenterol 2007;102:864-870
(3) Justin Hollon, Elaine Leonard Puppa, et al. “Effect of Gliadin on Permeability of Intestinal Biopsy Explants from Celiac Disease Patients and Patients with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity,” Nutrients. 2015 Mar; 7(3): 1565–1576.
(4) NEJM 357;17 Oct 25, 2007
(5) Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2005;21:421-429
(6) Gut 2005;54:769-774
Jaqui Karr, CGP, CSN, CVD, is a best-selling author, speaker, and corporate consultant who specializes in educating about gluten, celiac disease, specialty diets, and health through nutrition. Her popular “NakedFood” brand has helped thousands include more power raw and healing greens in their diet. Ms. Karr is a certified gluten practitioner, certified sports nutritionist, and certified vegan/vegetarian educator to dietitians. http://jaquikarr.com
Note: The statements presented in this column should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Dietary supplements do not treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always feel the advice of a medical professional before altering your daily dietary regimen. The opinions presented here are those of the writer.