Canadians with coeliac disease have trouble with food labelling

A Canadian study has found adults with coeliac disease who are trying to follow a gluten-free diet have difficulty choosing appropriate gluten-free foods based on product labelling information, leading to suggestions that explicit labelling that identifies gluten-free products may be helpful.

Almost 80 adults newly-diagnosed with coeliac disease who were recruited to the two year study completed all of the follow-up appointments at 6, 12, and 24 months. At each follow-up visit, participants were presented with 25 grocery items purchased at a local supermarket and asked to determine whether each was free from gluten based on the food label.

Participants were more likely to make errors with gluten-containing items and least likely to make errors with products that had explicit “gluten-free” claims on the label. The ability to correctly read food labels did not appear to improve over time.

The authors suggest further studies are needed to evaluate whether insufficient label reading skills are associated with poorer clinical outcomes.

Reference: Gutowski et al. 2018. Journal of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, Vol 1 (S2) pp 254, DOI: org/10.1093/jcag/gwy009.170