Avoiding gluten is the number one therapy for treating celiac disease, yet a new study finds that GF labels are overwhelmingly unreliable. Using a portable device designed to detect gluten (Nima), crowd-sourced data was collected measuring the risk factors for and rates of gluten contamination in restaurant foods labeled GF. Results found that out of the 5,624 tests performed, 32% of restaurant foods labeled GF actually contained gluten, with dinner foods being the most likely to be contaminated. The most problematic foods were pizza and pasta with a contamination percentage of 53.2% and 50.8% respectively. There was also a geographic significance to gluten contamination: GF labeled foods were more likley to contain gluten in the Northeast U.S. as opposed to the West. American Journal of Gastroenterology
Takeaway: While restaurant gluten contamination rates have not yet been investigated for clinical significance (for example, how the sometimes vey low levels of contamination the device picks up may affect disease symptoms), researchers hope the results of the study will serve as a cautionary guide for those with celiac disease when approaching restaurant food, especially GF pizza and pasta dishes.