The following article was published on Beat the Wheat Issue 15.
Coeliacs are becoming more and more used to finding gluten-free labels on food products – so much so that we have developed a sixth sense in spotting them swiftly when going through the grocery store.
It is a relief to find such longed-for labels and be able to bite each piece of food with total peace of mind. The problem comes when we find gluten free labels on unsuspected products which do not contain any gluten at all, such as “gluten free milk.” This labelling can make one confused and doubt whether we are choosing the right products in the first place. In the case of “gluten free milk,” this is merely a publicity strategy into tricking consumers to doubt other brands and win coeliac customers in buying their milk with this unnecessary label. By doing this it gives coeliacs a sense of security that they are buying milk that will not harm them when in fact companies use this marketing strategy to gain customers. As mentioned before, milk of whatever kind, does not contain any gluten. It makes us hesitant and it is more confusing than not when you find “Gluten-free” written on products like milk, salad or jam.
Does this mean that other products without a Gluten-Free label do have gluten in them? Don’t panic, the answer is NO. Any products that are gluten free by nature will never have a gluten free label on it. In fact, it is illegal to put a Gluten Free distinction in these foods, of whichever brand, given that there is no change in or altercation in their quality.
To make matters worse and more confusing you may find inedible products like make up, body lotion, tooth paste, even play dough as branded as gluten free. Again, don’t panic. You do not need to change your shampoo, soap, or other toiletries. It is just an advertising claim which informs you that they may contain traces of, or products of gluten but we do not eat body lotion or lipstick do we now? You would need to consume ten full lipsticks, more than one litre of toothpaste or body lotion in one day to arrive to that amount of gluten to make us feel sick (and most probably not from the gluten..).
So, relax my friends, you can still brush your teeth, use mouth wash, wear make-up and slap on the moisturiser as they won’t cause damage to the intestine until further notice. Who knows when it might change?
Spanish Youth Group