Is there a difference between a product that is gluten free and a product that contains not one spec of gluten? Absolutely. Both the Codex Standards and the proposed FDA legislation have determined that a product containing less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten will be deemed “gluten free.” The question then becomes, what does 20ppm of gluten mean for a celiac? Well, it depends on the celiac.
A food containing 20ppm of gluten contains nearly no gluten. Tricia Thompson, MD, once put this amount into context by saying a 1-ounce (28.35 grams) slice of gluten-free bread containing 20 parts per million of gluten would contain only 0.57 milligrams of gluten. It´s unbelievable that such a minute amount could cause harm to a celiac.
And it´s true. Studies have shown that many celiac can tolerate a small amount of gluten in their diet. No, that does not mean just one bite of a gluten-packed sandwich every day or the occasional Oreo. It simply means that a celiac can probably handle the <20ppm that exists in most gluten-free foods.
Still, it is small amounts of gluten that are right on the border of being under or over 20ppm where we need worry about things like cross contamination. Some individuals can have reactions with foods containing small amounts of gluten and will have troubles with cross-contamination; gluten-free products that were produced in factories that also make products containing gluten; and even sometimes the air in areas with gluten products.
How do you know how sensitive you are? Unfortunately, it isn´t black and white. Everyone has different tolerance levels, and there is a little bit of trial and error that goes into figuring out whether or not a gluten-free label will keep you healthy and feeling well. Even sensitive individuals will never know exactly how much gluten their body can handle, and monitoring a ppm intake each day would be impossible.
Remember that you can test gluten levels in food all the way down to 5ppm with GlutenTox Home. Instead of adding 2 drops of your grounded-up food solution (which tests for <20ppm of gluten), add 8 and you have it, the perfect test for those foods that might be “gluten free,” but that your body still can´t handle.