Gluten is the general name for the proteins found in wheat types (wheat, durum, semolina, spelled wheat, farina), rye, and barley. Gluten acts as a glue that holds food together and helps food retain its shape. Gluten is a protein that is even in unexpected foods.
Gluten occurs naturally in these types of grains and is a family of storage proteins formally known as prolamines. Many different prolamines are gathered under the gluten umbrella. These are further classified according to the grains they contain.
Wheat is generally used in breads, baked goods, soups, pasta, cereals and sauces. Barley is a grain that is commonly used in malt products, food dyes, soups, and brewer's yeast. Rye is generally used in making rye bread and rye beer.
Gluten offers a variety of functional benefits in the culinary arts and is responsible for the soft and chewy texture that is characteristic of many gluten-containing grain-based foods.
When gluten proteins are heated, they form a flexible network that expands and traps gas. In this way, it allows optimum rise or rise in breads, pastas and other similar products and to maintain moisture.
With these beneficial physical properties, gluten is often used as an additive in many processed food products to improve texture and promote moisture retention.
Gluten does not pose a health risk for the majority of people. However, people with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten. Therefore, these people have to avoid gluten in order not to cause negative and harmful reactions in the body. In this regard, gluten-free diets are becoming more common. As awareness of gluten intolerance grows, gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular.
Although gluten is safe for most people, some medical conditions require a gluten-free diet as part of the treatment. For example, celiac disease is a serious condition in which a person's immune system attacks small intestine cells when they eat gluten. This disease prevents the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Celiac disease is one of the most common causes of gluten intolerance and affects about 1 percent of the global population. The most common form of treatment today is a strict gluten-free diet.
Gluten is often used as a thickener or stabilizer in food production. In this respect, it is not always clear whether a particular food contains gluten. In addition, many food businesses share their preparation equipment with gluten-containing foods. Therefore, even if a food is gluten-free in nature, it is likely to be contaminated with gluten during food processing. If people who follow a strict gluten-free diet are not sure whether a particular food contains gluten, it is necessary to check the packaging or contact the manufacturer for a gluten-free label.
At this point, gluten tests given by advanced laboratories are important. In laboratories, it is easily determined whether a product is fortified with gluten in the process or if it is inadvertently contaminated. For this reason, gluten-free food labeling regulations have been implemented in many countries. These labels make choosing gluten-free much easier, but not all of them mean that gluten is completely absent in the product.
In the United States, European Union countries and Canada, this product may carry the gluten-free label as long as the amount of gluten accounts for less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of the product. It has been proven that most people with gluten intolerance do not experience adverse reactions at the 20 ppm threshold. However, in some countries this limit is accepted as 3 ppm.
Companies that produce gluten-free products should not only formulate their products gluten-free, but also control whether there is cross contamination from other products and processes. As a result, reliable tests are required to detect the presence and amount of gluten in foods.
Most of the tests performed to determine the presence of gluten in food products are enzyme-linked immunosorbent tests. These tests are known as ELISA tests. Some versions of ELISA tests provide quantitative results. Some devices give qualitative results that show the presence of gluten above a threshold level, but in some cases also give semi-quantitative results.
Meanwhile, other test methods are also used in gluten tests. For example,
However, ELISA test method is much more specific than other methods. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) swab tests are generally regarded as useless for gluten, but are good for general cleaning. A positive result for ATP generally means positive for gluten as well, but a negative result does not necessarily mean that it is gluten-free. Because ATP tests are not seen as sensitive as ELISA tests. The same comments apply to general protein tests.
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