Analytical Tools for Gluten Detection: Policies and Regulation

Mª Carmen Mena, Carolina Sousa


Gluten proteins are mixture of two groups of proteins named prolamins and glutelins. Many of these proteins are resistant to digestive enzymes and therefore after ingestion of gluten containing foods, there may be immunological potentially toxic peptides in small-bowel mucosal for celiac disease predisposed individuals. Since the only effective treatment of celiac disease is the avoidance of gluten containing foods, and taking into account the high prevalence of this disease, is mandatory to have reliable methods for gluten determination to ensure that consumption of labeled “gluten-free” food is safe for celiacs. Several factors may affect the results in gluten analysis such as the modifications of proteins produced during manufacturing of foods, the interference of the mixture of ingredients, and the use of the appropriate standard for gluten analysis. There are different available techniques for gluten analysis in foods. The most widely used are those based in the classical immunological techniques using different antibodies mainly enzyme-linked-immunosorbent assays, western blot, and lateral flow devices dipsticks. In addition, biosensors technologies can be applied to gluten analysis. Regarding the non-immunological tools, the most useful ones are the proteomics techniques and real time quantitative PCR. In most of the countries, regulations concerning the composition and labeling of foodstuffs suitable for people intolerant to gluten states that limit values for “gluten-free” foods and foods “specially processed to reduce the gluten content” are 20 and 100 mg/Kg of gluten respectively. Therefore any technique used must have at least a sensitivity to reach this lower limit.

Palabras clave

gluten-free foods, ELISA, prolamins, glutelins

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