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Beware! Gluten Free does NOT mean Wheat Free

Updated on April 5, 2011
Gluten AND Wheat Free
Gluten AND Wheat Free

Wheat Allergy vs Coeliac Disease

Having come across this hub, you may be thinking I got the above statement the wrong way round. You may be confused at the above title, saying to yourself that you know that "Wheat Free does not mean Gluten Free", but that "Gluten Free automatically means Wheat Free". You may not realise that gluten and wheat proteins are two different things and that gluten only exists in the gliadin and glutenin protein fractions of wheat. Many are aware that Wheat Free does not mean Gluten Free, but how many are aware that Gluten Free does not necessarily mean Wheat Free.

Having been to many parts of the world, I continually have stumbled across the Gluten Free term many times in different places and on different products. Particularly in Europe, I found Wheat Starch (Codex) listed as a top ingredient in a huge range of "gluten free" products (I would question whether it is completely gluten free, let alone wheat free - I almost doubt it!).  In this case the product is definitely not wheat free!  The wheat starch is used to give the gluten free product it's texture and softness present in many wheat-laden foods already in our society.  This particularly applies to countries including the UK, Spain, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, etc.

Another example is the labelling of glucose syrup/dextrose, caramel colour and monosodium glutamate which are derived from wheat.  Essentially (according to the *Coeliac Society* of Australia), these ingredients are gluten free even when derived from wheat (though I would be wary about their advice in this).  Unfortunately, they are NOT wheat free.  Gluten free soy sauce often contains gluten free wheat.  This is not suitable for wheat allergies/intolerances either.

Wheat allergy is different to Coeliac Disease in many ways.  It is especially important for one allergic or intolerant to wheat to know the difference between "gluten free" and "wheat free".  The good news, however, for the wheat allergic is that barley, rye and (uncontaminated oats) are usually wheat free and are suitable for most non-coeliac wheat allergic individuals.

But BEWARE!  Gluten Free does not mean wheat free!!!


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