If you are allergic to gluten, you know to avoid all foods with gluten, a protein that is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Gluten is quite common in the United States. It is used in breads, cakes, cookies, natural flavorings, pastas, soups and salad dressings, among other foods. Fortunately, the federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) provides some protection. However, gluten may be particularly difficult to detect, if it is used as a binder or as a filler in vitamins or medications.
Celiac disease is different from a wheat allergy. Celiac disease is a genetic gluten intolerance that may affect as many as 1 out of every 133 people in the United States. If you have celiac disease, your gastroenterologist may recommend that you do not consume gluten. Simply-stated, celiac disease is an intestinal reaction against gluten.
Although a gluten allergy differs from celiac disease, both a person with a gluten allergy and a person with celiac disease may follow a gluten-free diet and be highly compatible.
Recently, avoiding gluten has become easier, due to the numerous “gluten-free” foods now available in food stores. Gluten may be found in ale, beer, couscous, emmer, gelatinized starch, soups, soy sauce, spelt, triticale, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and vegetable gum, so all labels should be read closely.
When eating out, you should inform your server about your gluten allergy or that you have celiac disease. Always ask plenty of questions, before you take your first bite. Shared cooking utensils may cause cross contamination or cross contamination may result in the food preparation area.
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