Bread is supposed to be the staff of life. In recent years, there have been more consumers demanding gluten-free products. As a result, prepared foods from muffins to pretzels can be certified gluten-free. What is gluten? Gluten comes from the Latin word for glue. The gluten in bread dough helps bind it together so a loaf is produced. Those with Celiac Disease cannot digest gluten, which is the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt and processed foods. If a Celiac accidentally consumed gluten, it would trigger an immune response which attacks the lining of the small intestine. Celiacs cannot have gluten at all. Remember that fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and dairy products have always been gluten-free before the wave of gluten-free products arrived in the marketplace. Symptoms of a reaction to gluten would include diarrhea, constipation, nausea and abdominal pain. A consumer who is allergic to gluten could either be life-threatening as in anaphylaxis or simply develop hives, migraines, itchy skin, asthma or digestive upsets. The allergic individual or Celiac use gluten food avoidance to prevent the symptoms. Anaphylaxis can cause the individual to die within 4-6 minutes as the airway is swollen shut. The epi pen is what is required to save them. One example of a bakery trying to ride the gluten-free mania happened on one of my inspections. The manager had decided to bake rice bread which was cooked and properly labelled.
Just as staff were preparing to place the bread on the shelves, they realized the pans had been dusted with wheat flour! The product was not gluten-free and had to be removed therefore avoiding risk of a serious reaction to a consumer unknowingly purchasing a product which was cross-contaminated.