gluten-free

Courtesy of glutenfreewilltravel.com

Try walking down a grocery aisle or opening a restaurant menu without stumbling upon foods with claims that they’re “gluten-free.”

Up until now, you basically had to take the manufacturer or chef at their word. There was no widely accepted definition of what makes a food “gluten-free.”

That changed last week when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its new standard for food producers that want to label their goods as being without gluten.

Produce aisle of grocery store
File Photo / KBIA

Walk down a grocery store aisle or open a restaurant menu.

Gluten-free labels are everywhere.

Gluten is a starchy protein compound found in products made from wheat, barley and rye. It’s what gives dough a chewy texture. But up until this point, there has been little oversight on what qualifies as gluten-free and what doesn’t.

Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Gluten-free diets. They bar most beers, breads and cakes among other foods, because they contain wheat, rye and barley. The trendy diet is wildly popular today which is surprising, given that experts estimate only about 1 percent of the U.S. population suffers from Celiac disease, the disorder that causes their immune systems to reject the pesky gluten. But as Harvest Public Media’s Abbie Fentress Swanson reports, this diet fad and others are largely driven by Americans’ growing appetite for food solutions to their health woes.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Six months ago, Kara Welter drastically changed her diet by eliminating food that contains wheat, rye or barley.

“I don’t eat gluten,” said Welter, a 41-year-old marketing executive in Kansas City. “I happened to just try it because I was having stomach issues for years. And it turns out within three days, I stopped having stomach issues.”

Welter’s gluten decision stemmed from what she read online. Medical tests showed that she did not have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, the disorder that causes the immune system to reject the gluten.