It may not be possible for everyone who needs a gluten-free diet to cook all their meals using frozen, canned or fresh ingredients. There are ready-made and processed foods that say they are gluten-free, but you need to know how to read the labels to be sure of what you are buying. Product labels may not list wheat as an additive, but there may be gluten in some of the processing ingredients.
These common terms could mean the product contains gluten unless the label specifically states they are made with a grain other than wheat, rye or barley:
- Vegetable protein
- Malt or flavoring made from malt
- Modified food starch or modified starch
- Soy sauce and soy sauce solids
- Vegetable gum
- Plant Protein
Different countries around the world have different definitions for what constitutes a gluten free product. The smallest amount detectable is five parts per million which is the standard for Australia.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggested a definition for the voluntary use of gluten-free on labeling beginning on April 23, 2007. In order to use the gluten-free label a product must not have any of these as ingredients:
- Wheat, barley, rye or any crossbred hybrid of these in the product of in another ingredient of the product
- Wheat, barley or rye flour that has not been processed to remove gluten
- Wheat, barley or rye flour that has been processed to remove gluten but still has 20 parts per million or more
- Oats that contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten
These definitions of gluten-free foods are very important for people who suffer from celiac disease. They should not be misled by labeling into purchasing a product that will damage their intestines. It is not a legal requirement at this time, but many manufacturers add a Celiac and Dermatitis Herpetiformis Charity Cross Grain Symbol to their packaging for gluten-free foods. If this symbol is present, it is a guarantee that the food is gluten-free, suitable for a gluten-free diet and suitable for celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis treatment.