October 26, 2015

26/10/2015: Gluten-free foods: Concept, market and recent developments

by Ece Ozdemir, Dilek Boyacıoğlu, Dilara Nilufer-Erdil, M Hikmet Boyacıoğlu, Food Engineering Department, Faculty of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey, Food Engineering Department, Okan University, Istanbul, Turkey  

First published in Milling and Grain, July 2015

The consumption of gluten-free food has being undergoing a remarkable evolution for quite a long time. The major reason is a genetic disorder called celiac disease whose sufferers need to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. Recent data shows that it occurs in one out of every 100-300 individuals all over the world. Media coverage of the irritating symptoms such as weight loss, skin rashes, fatigue and loss of concentration has increased, which makes gluten an ‘enemy of wellness’.

There have also been a considerable amount of gluten-free consumers who are not diagnosed as celiac. They describe themselves as having ‘gluten sensitivity’ and withdraw gluten from their diet. A growing number of gluten-free brands were established and gluten-free private label lines were introduced by retailers around the World.

This is thought to have made a great contribution to the gluten-free trend. Thus, due to promotion by retailers, the gluten-free diet as a medical issue has now become a health food marketing concept. In this article, current developments in gluten-free trends, including new gluten-related disorders, and a gluten-free market with labelling and regulatory issues will be examined.

Cereal proteins and toxicity of gluten
Proteins in the cereal endosperm can be divided into four major groups: albumin, globulin, prolamin and glutelin based on their solubilities in water, salt solution, alcohol and acidic or basic solutions, respectively. Prolamin is available in wheat, barley, maize and sorghum in relatively high amounts, while in rice and oats it is present at low levels.

Prolamin differs from other protein fractions in its amino acid composition: it includes high amount of glutamic acid and proline while it is deficient in essential amino acids such as lysine. In general, it is believed that the prolamin (gliadin) fraction of gluten is the one which is responsible for celiac toxicity.

Even though it is still uncertain which amino acid sequence in wheat gliadin causes celiac toxicity, two tetrapeptides have gained considerable importance recently: proline-serine-glutamineglutamine and glutamine-glutamine-glutamine-proline. It appears that the latter tetrapeptide is present in all three gliadin subfractions and some subunits of secalins, hordeins and avenins found in rye, barley and oats, respectively.

Read the full article in Milling and Grain HERE.         

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