For people suffering from coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity, a gluten free diet is the only treatment. Gluten is a protein present in grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley. Some grains are naturally gluten-free, such as brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, sorghum, millet, corn (polenta) and teff.
The Crossed Grain Trademark is widely recognised by members of international coeliac organisations and a high proportion of non coeliac, but gluten intolerant, consumers as a source of trust and reassurance that a product is safe to eat.
This is particularly important when the consumer is unsure on the gluten status of a product, or whilst travelling and unable to understand the language in which the label is displayed. It is a quality and safety guarantee as all producers wishing to use it must conform to high and safe standards of production.
In fact, the Crossed Grain Trademark can only be licensed if products meet a range of criteria to ensure that they are gluten free, both in terms of the ingredients and the production process. This also includes a yearly audit of the manufacturing plant carried out by a qualified auditor to ensure gluten content is kept to maximum of 20ppm (=parts per million) at any stage of the manufacturing process.
The frequent use of corn and soy in gluten-free products raises questions about their health because most of the corn and soya conventionally cultivated are genetically modified (GMO = genetically modified organisms) to become more resistant to herbicides, viruses and drought and/or to produce an insecticide to fight pests, and to improve their shelf life and nutritional value.
But there is passionate debate about the safety and risks of GMOs. It’s believed GMOs increase allergic reactions and gastrointestinal problems, as well as risk of cancer. Moreover, evidence is mounting that the use of glyphosate-based herbicides widely used in GMO crops interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer.
Organic food is grown, among others, without the use of synthetic pesticides, and bioengineered genes (GMOs), have more antioxidants, and since they have almost no contact with laboratory chemicals, people with allergy to foods or preservatives often feel better when they eat only organic foods. Therefore, gluten-free organic products present a valuable option when choosing a precautionary approach against GMOs and glyphosate potential health effects.
Another issue that should be mentioned in relation to the continual use of gluten-free products is that they might be less healthy, nutritious and higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts and that a healthy gluten-free diet should include a good share of minimally processed fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts, etc.