A gluten-free diet is a diet free of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. It is used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often hidden under “dextrin”. A gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease, the related condition dermatitis herpetiformis, and wheat allergy.
Additionally, a gluten-free diet may exclude oats. Medical practitioners are divided on whether oats are an allergen to celiac disease sufferers or if they are cross-contaminated in milling facilities by other allergens.
The term gluten-free is generally used to indicate a supposed harmless level of gluten rather than a complete absence. The exact level at which gluten is harmless is uncertain and controversial. A recent systematic review tentatively concluded that consumption of less than 10 mg of gluten per day is unlikely to cause histological abnormalities, although it noted that few reliable studies had been done. Regulation of the label gluten-free varies widely by country. In the United States, the FDA issued regulations in 2007 limiting the use of “gluten-free” in food products to those with less than 20 ppm of gluten.The current international Codex Alimentarius standard allows for 20 ppm of gluten in so-called “gluten-free” foods.