AACC International calls for changes in gluten limits

by Jeff Gelski
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ST. PAUL, MINN. — The Protein Division of AACC International supports a limit of 20 parts per million (p.p.m.) for gluten in foods labeled as gluten-free in a proposed rule from the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations. However, the division said methods to measure gluten at that limit may not be adequate for all types of food.

The sandwich ELISA method used in combination with an extraction method that includes a reducing agent and a dissociating agent may work for a variety of cooked and processed foods, but not all of them, according to AACC International comments submitted to the F.D.A. in an April 13 letter.

"This method falls short for products containing hydrolyzed gluten that may consist of short gluten peptides with single epitopes," the letter said. "For such products, a competitive ELISA (requiring only one epitope) is more appropriate.

"In addition, antibodies used in current detection kits react mainly with the gliadin fraction, although both gliadins and glutenins have been shown to affect CD (celiac disease) patients."

AACC International recommended further research and creating a standard that takes into account the range of epitopes with a proven toxicity.

In regard to the 20 p.p.m. limit, AACC International said, "The 20 p.p.m. limit is currently the best choice, being barely above the amount of gluten that can be detected with current methods and safely below the apparent threshold of gluten toxicity for most (but not all) CD patients."

The F.D.A. in the Jan. 23 Federal Register issued a proposed rule defining the term "gluten free" for use in the labeling of foods. The F.D.A. accepted public comments on the proposed rule until April 23. Consumers suffering from celiac disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder, must avoid foods with gluten.

AACC International seeks to advance grain science and technology and includes more than 3,500 scientists representing industry, academia and government.

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