According to consumer reports, Americans are expected to spend upwards of $15 billion a year by 2016 on gluten-free foods, a trend supported by the nearly 18 million Americans who report having a gluten sensitivity. However, many consumers don’t understand which foods (ingredients, dietary supplements, spices and condiments) contain gluten, and how to correctly identify gluten-free food when shopping and eating out.
According to a recent consumer survey conducted by NSF International, more than half of consumers (54 percent) define gluten incorrectly or are just not sure what it is. One out of five survey respondents define it as either a protein found in all carbohydrates or simply as wheat. Additionally, a quarter of consumers (26 percent) mistakenly believe products that are wheat free are also gluten free; incorrectly identifying rice (47 percent) and potatoes (34 percent) as containing gluten and not realizing the problematic protein can be found in spices/flavoring (75 percent) and dietary supplements (62 percent).
The survey suggests a need for education and a clearer way to identify gluten-free food and ingredients for Americans that desire a gluten-free diet. This knowledge gap on where gluten is found can become problematic for those looking to buy gluten free. According to NSF International, the best way for consumers to determine if a product is truly gluten free is through a third party gluten-free verification, which is represented as a seal or mark on packaged goods, such as NSF’s.
For more information, visit www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/health-and-safety-tips/gluten-free-consumer.