Barley or wheat listed in the ingredients of your “gluten free” food or drink?
Alarmed? Confused? ANGRY?
It’s probably OK.
Barley and wheat (and rye and oats) are legally defined as gluten-containing cereals: as a group, one of the 14 declarable allergens, which must appear in ingredients when present in foods (with very few exceptions).
Coeliacs are told they need to avoid gluten-containing cereals.
They do … sort of.
To be more precise, they need to avoid the gluten in gluten-containing cereals.
Other bits of gluten-containing cereals are, in theory, safe. (Although this remains controversial.)
The starch, for instance. (Such as the deglutenised wheat starch used in some prescription breads.)
Broken down gluten is considered safe, if broken down sufficiently, such as by an enzyme used in brewing a beer …. although again, this is controversial.
And a tiny quantity of residual gluten is believed to be safe, if the product contains under 20 parts per million gluten. Such as the minuscule leftover that will be in the barley malt flavouring used in pickles or stocks …
These other or leftover ‘bits’ of gluten-containing cereals still need to be labelled and highlighted, though.
When you see barley or wheat on a product labelled gluten free, it’ll probably be one of these scenarios above.
It is probably OK.
1/ This applies to the EU, not North America, not Australia.
2/ Some react to even minute amounts of gluten — or suspect they do. This may well be the case — some coeliacs are highly sensitive — or they could be reacting to other non-gluten proteins in the grains, or to something else. Whatever — if you feel this is you, stay away.
3/ If you have barley allergy or wheat allergy — stay away. Note that ‘gluten free’ will not automatically be safe for you, if you do.
If you’re new to coeliac disease, this may take time to get your head around; it’s confusing at first.
If you’re not new to coeliac disease, are an advocate or other visible member of the coeliac community, then … You have a duty to take this on board, in my humble opinion.
Brands who do this are not breaking the law. In fact, they’re labelling correctly and responsibly. They do not deserve to be criticised and smeared on social media — something I see far too often. They are producing foods suitable for those on restricted diets. This comes with added difficulty and pressure — the stress of knowing that errors could make customers ill. Be nice. Being not-nice won’t encourage them to make more ‘free from’ products, will it?
In other words ….
Please, thanks and bye.