No safe threshold for gluten-free

A Cochrane Review commissioned by Coeliac Australia has found a safe threshold level of gluten intake for people with coeliac disease cannot be defined at present. As a result, the organisation will not support any moves to change Australian standards relating to gluten- free food labelling.

In Australia and New Zealand food labelled gluten-free must have no detectable gluten, while in Europe and the USA, the standard is less than 20 parts per million of gluten or 20mg per kilogram.

In light of a number of factors, such as increasingly sensitive gluten detection methods and the difficulties in preventing gluten co-mingling in some product the supply chains, coeliac consumers find it difficult to source products labelled as gluten-free. Previously, calls have been made to raise the level of detectable gluten allowed in a food bearing a gluten free label in order to bring Australian and New Zealand standards in line with those in Europe and USA and thereby support an increase in the number of food choices available for coeliac consumers in Australia and New Zealand.

While current evidence is not sufficient to establish an appropriate threshold, Coeliac Australia President Tom McLeod is reported to have stressed that this finding does not suggest a safe level of gluten does not exist.

The Cochrane Review is available at www.coeliac.org.au/research