New study finds gluten in some manufacturers' 'gluten-free' supplements

More than 60% of coeliac patients who are on a gluten-free diet still experience symptoms thought to be due to accidental gluten ingestion

Researchers at the Celiac Disease Center of Columbia University (Celiac Disease Center) discovered a trace amount of gluten in some brands of probiotics that claimed to be gluten-free. Of the 22 brands tested, 55% were found to contain gluten.

The Director of the Celiac Disease Center, Doctor Peter Green, said there is no definite conclusion whether that trace amount will have an affect on those with coeliac disease, but 'those patients (with coeliac disease who took the probiotics) had more symptoms than people who weren't taking these supplements.'

Doctor Ingrid Pultz, developer of a forthcoming coeliac disease therapeutic treatment, notes that 'more than 60% of (coeliac) patients who are on a gluten-free diet still experience symptoms thought to be due to accidental gluten ingestion.'

This could include a number of factors, such as environment or inadvertent ingestion, but it does not necessarily rule out the possibility that a probiotic claiming to be 'gluten-free,' which still contains gluten, might contribute to the aggravation of symptoms of those who have coeliac disease.

The International Probiotics Association (IPA), an international forum on probiotic technology and developments, issued a statement in response to the Celiac Disease Center claim that the problem was due to the manufacturing process and not an issue of contamination. 'A product could contain gluten as a result of the standardising agents that are used. If a customer wants a different level of CFUs, say, 10 million instead of 20 million, you would in effect cut that with an excipient. It's not like there are only bugs in the capsule,' IPA Executive Director George Paraskevakos said.

Some critics, however, point out that this has not been established and the issue could be anything from less-than-pure ingredients to lack of thorough cleaning at production facilities. It is not known with certainty whether trace amounts of gluten can trigger a reaction in those who are sensitive to gluten, especially those with coeliac disease.

Kirkman is a Nevada-based nutraceutical company that offers a special testing protocol that far surpasses any other purity testing protocol in the nutraceutical industry. Kirkman tests for gluten at detection levels of 5 parts per million (ppm) whereas the FDA standard to call a product gluten-free is less than 20ppm. In addition, KirkmanŽ tests for more than 950 environmental contaminants in every raw ingredient it uses in the nutraceuticals it makes.

Equipment won't test for less than 5ppm, so trace amounts in ppms less than that are difficult to detect,' Kulani Mahikoa, Executive Vice President for Kirkman said. 'All of the supplements Kirkman manufactures are gluten-free in the lowest traceable amounts,' she added.

Companies