Gluten-Free Products

March 29, 2016

What is gluten and why is it in so many foods?

Gluten is a mixture of certain proteins present in wheat, rye, and barley.

The use of wheat flour and gluten in foodstuffs is extremely common because of their heat stability and useful effects on texture, moisture retention and flavor. For example, gluten stretches and allows bread to rise when a leavening agent is used.

NOW carries many products made without gluten for individuals who have special dietary concerns associated with foods that contain gluten. In fact, most NOW products are made with gluten-free ingredients.

Why are products labeled as gluten-free or made without gluten?

Reactions to eating gluten fall into three categories:

  • Wheat allergy: an immune reaction to consuming the protein in wheat
  • Celiac disease: an autoimmune disorder causing the production of antibodies leading to small intestine damage when consuming gluten; a protein in wheat, rye, and barley
  • Gluten intolerance (also called gluten sensitivity): GI or neurological reactions to the proteins in gluten without small intestine damage occurring or antibodies forming; this is diagnosed by negative results on celiac and wheat allergy tests, where the symptoms lessen on a gluten-free diet and return when gluten is reintroduced  

Are there any federal guidelines concerning gluten-free foods?

In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set rules to allow manufacturers to label a food “gluten-free” if the food does not contain any of the following:

  1. An ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains
  2. An ingredient derived from these grains and that has not been processed to remove gluten
  3. An ingredient derived from these grains and that has been processed to remove gluten, if it results in the food still containing 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten
  4. 20 ppm or more gluten

NOW® products labeled as gluten-free meet or exceed these standards.