Is Digiorno Gluten-Free Pizza celiac-safe? A lot of people wonder this when they look at the ingredients of Digiornos gluten-free pizza and see wheat starch listed. How can a gluten-free food contain wheat, when wheat contains gluten?!
Let’s talk about it! How can Digiorno Gluten-Free Pizza be celiac-safe if it has wheat starch?
Before we get into if Digiorno Gluten-free Pizza is celiac-safe, we need to understand the relationship between gluten and celiac. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Thus, a celiac diet typically is a diet free from those three grains.
So how can a gluten-free pizza have wheat starch in it and still be celiac-safe?
Remember, celiacs react to the protein gluten found in wheat. Starch is a carb, not a protein. So if the starch or sugars in wheat have been processed enough, it will not trigger a reaction because there should be minimal if any gluten left behind.
Contrary to popular belief, Digiorno Gluten-free Pizza is legally allowed to mark it’s product as gluten-free. The FDA recognized that gluten derivatives can be safe for celiacs. That’s because celiacs have a generally tolerable exposure threshold of <20ppm. So the FDA allows food products to list themselves as gluten-free as long as they have <20ppm of gluten in them.
And the FDA specifies, you may use gluten derived ingredients, like wheat starch, in gluten-free labeled products as long as they are testing to <20ppm of gluten.
That’s because again, gluten-free means no gluten proteins. Starches aren’t proteins, they are carbs. So technically the starches from gluten grains, like wheat starch, are gluten-free as long as they’ve been processed enough. The caveat here is that wheat starch is only considered gluten-free if the product has been marked gluten-free.
Unlike glucose or dextrose derived from gluten, which is always gluten-free, like in the case of Haribo Gummy Bears.
When it comes to celiac disease, food products with wheat starch that have been tested and confirmed to <20ppm are celiac-safe. This includes Digiorno Gluten-free Pizza.
However, some people with celiac also have a wheat allergy. And some people might be shopping gluten-free because of a wheat allergy.
And when it comes to a wheat allergy, there is no generally safe threshold of exposure. So in this case, the product may be questionably safe depending on the person.
Additionally, some people with celiac may also have a wheat intolerance (not to be confused with gluten intolerance). This can cause a reaction in these populations too. Thus, if someone is sensitive to wheat they should avoid this pizza as well.
Ultimately, Digiorno Gluten-free Pizza is celiac-safe. It has wheat starch, a carb derived from wheat, not the proteins. Thus, it should not trigger a celiac reaction. However, given the large range of needs in the celiac population, from additional food sensitivities to food allergies, it may not be suitable for everyone.
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