Gluten-Free Foods: Focus Shifting to Nutrition & Taste

July 19, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RELEASED AT THE 2010 IFT ANNUAL MEETING & FOOD EXPO


FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Mindy Weinstein
IFT Media Relations
312.604.0231
mweinstein@ift.org

The gluten-free food market represents a major growth opportunity for manufacturers as consumers with celiac disease and other conditions increasingly seek products that are healthy, good-tasting and filling without using wheat and other grain-based products.

Presenters at the 2010 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo® noted that about 1 in 100 adults is estimated to suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. Only 5 to 10 percent of those are diagnosed, however, and that is often after being misdiagnosed with other illnesses.  Left untreated, celiac disease can cause illnesses ranging from gastrointestinal problems to bone disease, infertility and an increased risk of cancer.

The panel suggested food manufacturers explore using pure oats in new gluten-free products to increase the amount of fiber and improve the taste. A study by Health Canada concluded that the majority of people with celiac disease can tolerate moderate amounts of pure oats, which are a good source of dietary fiber, B-complex vitamins, iron and protein, said Shelley Case, BS, RD, author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, and a member of the Medical Advisory boards of the Celiac Disease Foundation and Gluten Intolerance Group in the United States and the Professional Advisory Board of the Canadian Celiac Association.

As the number of people diagnosed with celiac disease increases,  so will the demand for gluten-free products. U.S. retail sales of gluten-free food and beverages are expected to reach more than $2.77 billion by 2012. Besides people with celiac disease, the gluten-free food market also draws people with non-celiac gluten-sensitivity, wheat allergies and others.

Steve Taylor, PhD, director of the Food Allergy and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska, cautioned that manufacturing true gluten-free grain products requires vigilance every step of the way.  USDA grain standards allow the same equipment to be used for wheat and oats; as a result, a study found 60 percent of oats were contaminated with wheat, he said.

“If you wish to make gluten-free foods, obviously you have to start with gluten-free ingredients, and that’s easier to say than to do,” he said.

For more information, contact:

Shelley Case, BS, RD, author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, and a member of the Medical Advisory Boards of the Celiac Disease Foundation and Gluten Intolerance Group in the United States and the Professional Advisory Board of the Canadian Celiac Association, scase@accesscomm.ca.

Steve Taylor, PhD, director of the Food Allergy and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska, staylor2@unl.edu.

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About IFT
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT’s mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.

For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit ift.org.