An easy-to-use tool for the detection of gluten in foods will be developed in an EU-funded project designed to help people with coeliac disease avoid problem foods.
Gluten, which causes the symptoms of the disease, is common in many foodstuffs, even if the product itself is not a cereal product, and due to its increasing use as a food additive its presence in many products is not immediately obvious.
Scientists in the project will use new knowledge on the development of reliable and easy to handle test systems for the detection of gluten in food products.
Coeliac disease affects approximately 1million Europeans. The intolerance to gluten causes damage to the small intestine mucosa which is reversible with avoidance of dietary gluten. The damaged mucosa disturbs the absorption of water and nutrients. This can cause malnutrition, which can be severe, especially for small children and adolescents. Coeliac disease is different from allergy: some people with wheat allergies are not gluten intolerant and can eat rye and barley. According to present knowledge, oats can be consumed by coeliac patients.
The symptoms of coeliac disease can vary with each individual and they do not always involve the digestive system. They can range from no symptoms at all, to severe ones, such as gas, bloating, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, irritability, muscle cramps or fatigue. Because of the broad range of symptoms that coeliac disease presents, it can be difficult to diagnose.