Source: US Food & Drug Administration
I have a wheat allergy. How can I avoid a wheat-related reaction?
Avoid all food and products that contain wheat and wheat derivatives. These include any product whose ingredient list warns it “may contain” or “may contain traces of” wheat.
What is the difference between a wheat allergy and celiac disease?
Wheat allergy and celiac disease are two different conditions. When someone has a wheat allergy his/her immune system has an abnormal reaction to proteins from wheat, with symptoms similar to that of other allergic food reactions. When a person with celiac disease eats food containing the protein gluten (found in wheat and some other grains) it damages the lining of the small intestine, which stops the body from absorbing nutrients. This can lead to diarrhea,weight loss and eventually malnutrition. If you are unsure whether you have a wheat allergy or celiac disease, consult an allergist or a physician.
How can I determine if a product contains wheat or wheat derivatives?
Always read the ingredient list carefully. Wheat and wheat derivatives can often be present under different names, e.g., semolina.
What do I do if I am not sure whether a product contains wheat or wheat derivatives?
If you have a wheat allergy, do not eat or use the product. Get ingredient information from the manufacturer.
Does product size affect the likelihood of an allergic reaction?It does not affect the likelihood of a reaction; however, the same brand of product may be safe to consume for one product size but not another. This is because product formulation may vary between different product sizes of the same product.
REFERENCE: Wheat: One of the nine most common food allergens. September 2009, 1-4. Health Canada. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/allerg/fa-aa/allergen_wheat-ble-eng.php.
If you have celiac disease or a serious gluten intolerance be careful with cross-contamination.
Cross-contamination is the transfer of a food allergen to a product that does not normally have that ingredient in it. It can happen through shared production and packaging equipment, bulk display of food products and bins and during food preperation at home or in restaurants through equipment, and utensils.
For more information from CFIA on food allergies and food recalls: www.inspection.gc.ca
*Once you enter the CFIA site, select Food and then scroll down to Fact Sheets on Food Allergies and Food Recalls.
For more general information on food allergies:
Learning to read labels carefully, asking lots of questions and checking manufacturer websites are essential to ensuring you have a safe source.
For more information from Health Canada on reading labels, food allergies and intolerances, food allergy alerts and to subscribe to the food allergies e-notice subscription: www.hc-sc.gc.ca
*Once you enter the Health Canada site, select Food and Nutrition and then choose Food Allergy and Intolerances in the features section.