Ever since the European Union issued its recent directive on labelling, it has become easier to identify “risky” foods. The directive requires food producers to declare the presence of even minute quantities of gluten in their products. Often, the deliberate or involuntary ingestion of trace quantities of gluten will not provoke an immediate irritation, but it may be harmful over the long term because of the risk of persistent intestinal inflammation. It is therefore critical to remain vigilant while on the diet. Nevertheless, there is absolutely no need to engage in gluten phobia or excessive dietary anxiety.
Safe foods, or foods without gluten
Numerous naturally gluten-free foods exist that may be consumed without reservation. These include rice; maize; various types of starches, such as potatoes, pulses, buckwheat, manioc, tapioca, and chestnuts; milk and dairy products; meat; fish; eggs; vegetable oils; vegetables; and fruit. In addition, there is a vast range of processed foods (including bread, pasta, biscuits and cereals) that caters especially for the dietary needs of coeliacs. These foods can be identified by a crossed-out grain stalk on the package, a symbol that guarantees the absence of gluten.
Certain foods may be consumed only after one has made sure that they are free of gluten. Even so, they cannot be considered 100 per cent safe: even though gluten may not appear on the list of ingredients, some contamination may have occurred during the production process. Risky foods include instant soups, sausages, soy sauce, meat flavouring mixes, candies and sweets, ice cream, starch, maltodextrin, glucose syrup and malt.
Foods that must be eliminated completely include all those containing derivatives of wheat and certain other cereals, including emmer, kamut, triticale, spelt, barley and rye. Oats are not recommended, as they are often contaminated with gluten.