Gluten– a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten-free, eating meat, eggs, and vegetables, but avoiding bread, pasta, cereals and other foods containing wheat, rye and barley.
About 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease. It is an auto-immune disorder that causes the body to attack the small intestine when gluten is eaten. Celiac disease can create serious medical problems.
Another 18 million people have sensitivity to gluten, resulting in digestive problems, rashes, diarrhea and other maladies.
The nation’s biggest food makers see a big and growing market. More than ten percent of consumers are buying gluten-free. The size of this market and the amount spent on these products is growing rapidly.
Marketing strategies are changing. Companies are using private labels and finding small suppliers who pioneered gluten-free products.
Many products, such as popcorn, potato chips, nuts and rice crackers, have always been gluten-free. That fact is now in the advertising and packaging of these products.
An expert said, “Americans are concerned with digestive health.” About 30 percent of the people say they would like to cut back on gluten. That is a big number to the food industry.
Big food chains are leading the way. Companies like General Mills are turning familiar products into gluten-free foods. For example, Rice Chex and Betty Crocker now have gluten-free brownies, cookies and cakes. Even the Girl Scouts have a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie.
People think gluten-free is healthier. By eating gluten-free, they are eating less processed food. That alone is healthier. Experts say read the labels carefully.
Source: The New York Times February 17, 2014