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Gluten-Free Restaurant Dishes Are Frequently Mislabeled

Updated: Aug 14, 2021

•People with celiac disease usually completely eliminate gluten from their diets. •A new study says many foods labeled as gluten-free actually contain gluten. •Certain dishes, like gluten-free pizza and pasta, were particularly problematic.


Published at | 04 April 2019 |

Photo Credit Jesper Mattias/Getty Images

Finding gluten-free dishes at restaurants requires work. The task often involves hunting down GF menu items, asking about preparation, and/or ensuring there's no cross contamination from other food items. Well, a new study says that might all be wasted effort because many gluten-free dishes actually contain gluten.

Scientists detected gluten in 32 percent of foods labeled as gluten-free, according to a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology. The percentage was higher for certain items, like pizza and pasta. 

The study included 804 people who used a portable gluten sensor, Nima, to test their restaurant meals. More than 5,600 samples were taken over an 18-month period across the United States. The team found that meals served during dinner had more gluten, 34 percent, than at breakfast (32 percent). Roughly 52 percent of pizza and 50 percent of pasta dishes labeled as gluten-free tested positive for the substance.

This isn't the only indication that gluten-free items might be mislabeled. A paper published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year found that many celiac patients are unwittingly eating about 244 mg of gluten each day, which is enough to make them sick.

It's important to note that the device used in this particular study detects gluten at levels that are larger than 20 parts per million, which is higher than the Food and Drug Administration's definition of gluten free set at less than 20 parts per million. Still, celiac patients may want to steer clear of gluten-free pizza and pasta dishes when dining out.


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. This article is for news and update purposes only and all copy right remains to the author.

Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. The GF Hub does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service.

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