Lindt Chocolate - Gluten Free Facts
Twisted facts from Lindt
Today, much of our population is aware of Coeliac Disease and the need to avoid gluten as a result. Most of us, as coeliacs, would know that even a 'little bit' of gluten should not be consumed on the gluten free diet. We, as diligent coeliacs, tend to avoid products with 'may contain traces of gluten', etc. statements as a precaution to maintaining sound health. We generally don't experiment due to possible dangers but enjoy having a life as well.
A very small portion of the human population (including those affected by Coeliac Disease), however, are aware about how gluten is detected in the laboratory (or how it ISN'T detected, should I say).
Gluten is a generic name for the proteins found in wheat (gliadin), rye (secalin), barley (horedin) and oats (avenin). Gluten, the substance itself , can not be tested for (under the Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) common, currently the most widely used and mainstream for testing allergenic proteins in laboritories). However, the protein fractions of wheat and rye, namely gliadin and secalin respectively, can be tested all the way down to 3-5 parts per million (i.e. 3-5ppm). On the other hand, however, no accurate test is currently available for detecting barley derivatives (particularly barley malt) and oat proteins at this time. More information is available in another article of mine here.
With this knowledge, gained over a substantial period of time, I found it VERY interesting to recently discover on the Lindt FAQs that they seem to "THINK THEY KNOW THE ANSWER!"
(THEY DON'T, REALLY...)
The text reads as follows:
[1. Is there gluten or barley malt in Lindt chocolate?
- At this stage, no Lindt product imported into Australia is marked 'Gluten Free'. Therefore, at this time we cannot guarantee that Lindt chocolate is gluten-free. Couverture contains 0.36% of dried malt extract, a barley derivative, and is specified to contain not more than 100mg gluten in 100g dried malt extract. This means that our chocolate contains a maximum of 0[m2] 0.00036% = 3.6 ppm (parts per million resp. mg per kg) of gluten.]
The following statement, "specified to contain not more than 100mg gluten", is only an assumption. It is NOT a fact. Lindt then continues on, calculating the end figures which result in "a maximum of 3.6 ppm of gluten".
They should not conclude on such matters, as even experts in the Coeliac Research field know VERY LITTLE about the amount of gluten content in the above ingredients (apart from repeated testing trials which possibly reveal a very inconsistent average of ~1000ppm.) So WHAT ON EARTH makes Lindt think that they have the answer? 3.6 parts per million (if this was for REAL) is a rather inviting figure. It is below the level of 20 parts per million (which is deemed as safe by the CSoA). As well as this, it is low on the detection limit of the ELISA test for detectable gluten! I spoke to the Coeliac Society about this and they felt the same way ("nothing they could do about it, though").
And to Lindt, I think your research was flawed and for you to be explaining the outright unexplainable, guaranteeing that none of your products with barley malt extract (as the only gluten-containing ingredient in the product (i.e. excluding products with wheat flour, starch, etc.)) contain more than 3.6 ppm devastates me more than anything else.
I advise my fellow coeliac readers to take heed and be prepared to refrain from consuming ANY Lindt Chocolates (particularly the MILK variety, for that matter) as you currently cannot accurately test barley or oats for gluten! IMPOSSIBLE!