NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson was exactly right when she recently said that society plays a vital role in managing food allergies.
There is a current movement by Australian food manufacturers and suppliers to increase the amount of gluten allowed in ‘gluten-free’ foods, essentially making them ‘gluten-low’ instead and if you’re a Coeliac disease sufferer or have related food allergies you take your chances. The most effective treatment for Coeliac and gluten sensitivity is the same as the treatment for food allergies-total avoidance of the offending substance.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council is asking Food Standards Australia New Zealand to ease its current standard, which states there must be no detectable gluten in foods labeled ”gluten-free” by raising it to contain up to 20 milligrams of gluten per kilogram, in line with British and European standards.
As one of the many concerned groups heading an initiative that deals on a daily basis with food allergy sufferers, as far as we can see, these proposed changes won’t assist sufferers in any way and if anything they will almost certainly compound the challenges faced with living with these medical conditions- in particular increasing the level of confusion over food labels.
Further studies on acceptable levels are urgently needed before any widespread or lasting changes are made to the current standards adhered to in Australia.
Manufacturing and testing costs are sited as primary driving factors for these proposed changes, but these are not acceptable health related reasons for the changes- in fact, as far as we can see other than monetary gain tied to many of those supporting these changes any change without further studies makes no sense.
With the increased amount of sufferers in our community it is imperative that we all share in the duty of care in assisting with the management of this medical conditions, particularly the food industry. It is paramount they accept their duty of care and start to place ‘health before wealth.’
‘Gluten-low but possibly still harmful’ does not equal ‘Gluten-free.’
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