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Globally Gluten Free - Practices and Perception Around the World

Greetings Fellow Gourmets!

 

Continuing the discussion of gluten-free preparations around the world, it has been interesting to note practices and perception of gluten-free eating from one country to the next. Of course each country is different, and as there are varying levels of people affected, so accommodations for gluten-free diners and consumers vary from region to region or even establishment to establishment. But the laws and regulations of the country naturally have more of an impact on their approach and available resources.

village terrace rice filed Baitong 333 (Image Courtesy of Baitong333 - FreeDigitalPhotos.Net)

Just to overview the regulatory aspect, those countries with the most highly regarded approach to gluten-free eating and products among celiacs are the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. Also of note are Italy, Norway, and Sweden (celiactravelguide.com & glutenfreetravelsite.com). Many countries now belong to the Association of European Celiac Societies, or AOECS.

In our last article, we discussed regulatory basics of gluten standards amoung US, the UK, and Italy. Since then, I have discovered a few key points:

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness' Gluten Certification program has partnered with Canada to form the Gluten Free Certification Program, or GFCP. According to information from Tricia Ryan of Allergen Control Group, Canada

"The Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) was developed so consumers can shop with confidence by selecting those safe, reliable and gluten-free products displaying the GFCP trademark and is endorsed by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the Canadian Celiac Association."

In Canada the level is 20ppm according to their regulatory levels. US is still at 10 ppm, though US regulations are still developing. In addition, the program is offered to and utilized by numerous other countries, as products may be made or manufactured in other countries, but imported, marketed and sold in North America. The audit allows either or both seals to be used within US or Canada. Their auditors have worked with facilities in New Zealand, Sweden, India, Italy & China. (Ryan)

It was further interesting to note that the market for Gluten-Free products, sites, travel services, and accommodations is growing at an increasing rate. Why is this? The number of celiacs is on the rise worldwide. 

According to Dr. Stefano Guandalini, Founder and Medical Director of University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Center,

 "It is indeed well documented that all autoimmune (and allergic) disorders are on the rise worldwide, but limited to developed areas," said Stefano Guandalini, founder and medical director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, in an e-mail interview.

"In general, it is safe to say the rates about double every 20 years or so" (jsoonline.com).

This is translating to some very large numbers in regards to market demand. According to NFCA, the US and Canadian markets are at $2,141.1 million and $90.9 million, respectively, just for retail products (GFCP Marketing Presentation 17).

Across the globe, travelers are seeking more and more options for gluten-free and celiac-safe dining. Sites such as glutenfreetravelsite.com allow queries by country or region, and provide free cards and guides for travelers in multiple languages. Resources are also growing with the gluten-affected population. There are numerous celiac societies forming worldwide. It seems the numbers are averaging out over developing countries with between 1 and 100 to 1 in 133 or more affected by celiac disease. Of course these figures are changing.

A bit about resources in other places:

The Coeliac Society of Ireland has a comprehensive resource for consumers, manufacturers, and food professionals.

New Zealand has a blue cross-grain logo that is discussed on their society's webpage, Coeliac New Zeland. There, products displaying the logo and the words, "GLUTEN FREE" are not to contain any detectable gluten according to their Food Standard Australia and New Zealand, or FSANZ. Issue 103, Standard:1.2.8 Clause 16

  • (1)     Claims in relation to the gluten content of food are prohibited unless expressly permitted by this Code.
  • (2)     A claim to the effect that a food is gluten free must not be made in relation to a food unless the food contains -
  • No detectable gluten; and no-
  • (ii)     oats or their products; or
  • (iii)    cereals containing gluten that have been malted, or their products
  • (3)     A claim to the effect that a food has a low gluten content must not be made in relation to a food unless the food contains no more than 20mg gluten per 100g of the food.

 Without further notation of "GLUTEN FREE", the blue cross-grain symbol will adhere to the Codex standard discussed in the previous article.

 

Jungfraujoch Alps Mountain Landscape Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

(Image Courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee, FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

In Switzerland one organization is the Interessengemeinschaft für, or IG Zöliakie der Deutschen Schweiz. Their standards are in agreement with Codex dual standards with gluten-free at less than 20ppm and an additional tier of foods between 20 and 100ppm. 

Also, in Romandy, the French speaking part of Switzerland, there is an office in Lausanne, that forwards information concerning practices there. This is the Association Romande De Coeliakie, or Suisse Romande Association of celiac disease (ARC). 

In Norway, Norsk Cøliakiforening is the celiac association. Norsk cøliakiforening (NCF) also has a Celiac Youth Society. 

Sweden's association is Svenska Celiakiförbundet and is also a member of the Association of Celiac Societies in Europe.

Germany's association is Deutsche Zöliakie-Gesellschaft e.V. and they have a listing of licensed manufacturers, and a gluten-free Oktoberfest!

 

What about outside of Europe? One other good site to vist is glutenfreepassport.com. They keep a listing of gluten-free or celiac-friendly restaurants in different countries. 

Many times, food manufacturers and suppliers themselves are veritable founts of information. Schär, a global producer of gluten free foodstuffs, and leader of gluten-free production in Europe, has excellent resources for availability of their products globally. 

Other countries may not have the same level of gluten-affected populations, however there are still resources available: 

Israel, may not have an official logo, but does have gluten-free products available in neighborhood health-food stores called "Beit Teva".

 

greece2

(Image Courtesy of Evgeni Dinev, FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Greece and Crete have a Celiac Society  for "koiliokaki" or "keleokake". It is the Hellenic Society for Celiac Disease. According to George Portokalakis, owner of Porto Club Travel Services, celiac disease affects far fewer people there, "the number is no more than 1.500 people all over Greece" .

There are still gluten-free foods however. The society there was formed 20 years ago, with a main purpose of importing or ensuring gluten-free flours were available. They may not be as readily available as in other countries with a larger population of celiacs, but there are some delicious traditional foods that can be made gluten-free. Ladenia is one local pizza-style specialty that can be made with gluten-free flour, olive oil, tomato and onion. The gluten-free yeast is made by Athens-based YIOTIS.

(Note: Most baking yeasts are gluten-free. Brewers yeast is not, as it contains barley. However this is primarily for beverage making.) 

Let us not forget dessert! Mr. Portokalakis also contributed a recipe:

" I used self rising gluten free flour 200grams, sugar 200grams, 1 egg, 1 wine glass of fruit juice or milk, 1/2 wine glass of oil. (I used olive oil). Mix it well and place it in a pan which you put some oil or butter before. Add fresh fruit. Apricot is very nice on top and cook it for 30 minutes in 180 celcium. Result: Just beautiful." (Wine glasses average 5-6 fluid oz or 177 mL)

 

So to sum up, numbers of celiacs are increasing worldwide. Also, in addition to that, the numbers of people who are gluten sensitive are exponentially higher. For instance according to Gluten Free Certification Canada, 1% are actually celiac, but 6% are gluten sensitive and a whopping 22% prefer gluten free foods for dietary reasons! 

It is not recommended that those with gluten sensitivity pursue a completely gluten-free diet, as this may lead to a worsening of the condition. But the demand is increasing, as more and more individuals are finding the need to be more circumspect about the levels of gluten they ingest. 

What does the future hold? Hopefully, as more becomes known about the immune system and gluten's effect on the body, numbers affected severely will decrease. Until then, let us hope that we food professsionals and food manufacturers will continue to educate and inform ourselves and employees on how to provide for people affected adversely. 

The result will be "just beautiful"!

 

Disclaimer:

This post is informational only.

Always do medical, dietetic, and legal research pertaining to the appropriate country before establlishing policy.

Sources:

Celiac Travel Guide Blog

http://www.celiactravelguide.com/2007/03/traveling-gluten-free.html#uds-search-results

Gluten Free Travel Site

http://glutenfreetravelsite.com/resources.php

Coeliac Society of Ireland

 http://celiacdisease.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=celiacdisease&cdn=health&tm=5521&f=10&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=2&bt=3&bts=34&zu=http%3A//www.coeliac.ie/

Coeliac New Zealand Society

http://www.coeliac.org.nz/crossed_grain

Association Romande de la Coeliakie

http://www.coeliakie.ch/

Swiss German IG Zöliakie  

http://www.zoeliakie.ch/

Germany Gluten Free

http://www.dzg-online.de/

Norway Gluten Free Swizterland 

http://www.ncf.no

Switzerland Celiac Society

http://www.zoeliakie.ch

Visiting Sweden Gluten Free 

http://www.celiaki.se/visiting-sweden/

Israel Celiac Society

http://www.celiac.org.il/Tips_En.htm

Schar

http://www.schar.com/us/

Gluten Free Certification Canada

http://www.glutenfreecertification.ca/

 

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