If You Think You're Living a Gluten-Free Lifestyle, You're Probably Living a Lie

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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