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Are gluten free grains really gluten free?

One of the questions that people always ask me is if things like rice, corn, and quinoa are really gluten free?  They obviously don’t contain gluten in the grain, but can they be contaminated in the processing of the grains.  I have always guessed that many of these grains could be contaminated but never had any scientific evidence to back up my  thoughts.

My sister recently brought up this topic again when she thought her son might be getting “sick” from millet, which is inherently gluten free.  She wanted to know how she knew the millet wasn’t contaminated with gluten.  Then I was at the Gluten Intolerance Group meeting this weekend and we examined a bag of lentils.  When you look up close, there could be anything in that bag!  My previous thoughts were officially validated by a study that was just published.  Some of my favorite people, Tricia Thompson, MS, RD and Anne Lee, RD actually took the time to study the “gluten-free grains” to find out if they were contaminated.  Sure enough, many do contain traces of gluten.  What to do?  Don’t panic…just buy reputable brands that use good manufacturing practices and test their products.  The research article and some responses to the article are posted here.

Jen’s Advice for Purchasing Safe Gluten Free Grains

1.  Purchase brands that have been certified as gluten-free.  Make sure they have a third party certification, such as that from GIG or CSA.

2.  Never shop from the bulk bins.

3.  Contact the companies and ask about their manufacturing practices and their testing of their products.

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