As I’ve written before, the idea of gluten-free as a “fad” scares me as a business owner. Fads never last. That’s in fact what makes the difference between a fad and a trend. A trend on the other hand, I am completely for! A trend is understandable, explainable, and wanted by business owners. There’s nothing better than a product you manufacturer that is “trending.”
Lately I’ve been hearing customers talk about “gluten-reduced” goods. The most mentioned are gluten-reduced beer.
As a business owner who focuses exclusively on gluten-free goods coming from a dedicated gluten-free facility, the idea of “gluten-reduced” is both exciting and alarming at the same time.
For one, anything gluten related builds awareness of gluten-free. Any phrase with “gluten” accompanied with a negative, or eliminating phrase (“reduced, free, no, low”) only makes that first ingredient (here gluten) seem bad: “low fat, reduced sodium, non-gmo” all for examples. So that’s good!
On the other hand, I fear the ideas of gluten-reduced products are only being developed in an attempt to get a slice of the gluten-free pie trend. And that’s okay! But, what isn’t okay is when illegitimate attempts at gluten-free eventually turn this trend into a fad.
Someone suffering from a gluten sensitivity, celiac, and/or a large array of related symptoms will not benefit from a gluten-reduced diet (at least in my opinion). With that, one can understand how that consumer eventually will give up on gluten being the problem and completely forgo the diet. When all along they we’re never truly addressing the problem in the first place, that of going on a true gluten-free diet.
There are over 400 documented symptoms related to gluten sensitivity, let alone celiac disease. And unfortunately most of those symptoms have a latency component in them making it extremely difficult to identify and trace the cause of symptoms. For example, most people assume all gluten related symptoms only have to do with digestive and stomach problems. While that is the root of the problem, most symptoms are felt throughout the body with delayed onset, and for a large percentage of people symptoms in the gut never appear. It would be great if gluten ingestion always yielded an immediate and obvious reaction, but we’re not talking about poison oak or a bee sting here… 🙂
So now applying the idea of gluten-reduced goods back to the equation (knowing that gluten-caused symptoms are not as obvious as we may like to think they are), bottom line; eating gluten-reduced is the same as getting a thin crust pizza over a thick crust pizza simply because there is less pizza dough….(hence less gluten)………
Just remember, those 400 plus symptoms are detected from just 20ppm of gluten. 20ppm of gluten is so small it’s undetectable to the human eye!
“Gluten-reduced” foods should be considered and categorized with the same ridiculousness that the real fad diets are today, and not accompanied with a true gluten-free diet for people.
I’m completely for creativity and ingevitity, but I will never be for companies who mislead consumers and eventually turn the gluten-free trend into a gluten-free fad.