What Does 10 mg of Gluten Look Like?Tricia Thompson
10 milligrams of gluten per day is generally considered by experts to be a safe amount for individuals with celiac disease. But what does this look like in terms of bread crumbs?
Regular white wheat bread has been reported to contain 12,400 milligrams of gluten per 100 grams (or 124,000 parts per million of gluten). Assuming this is accurate, a one-ounce slice of regular bread would contain 3,515 milligrams of gluten.
Based on this assumption and using a nonscientific scale:
This is what 1 ounce of bread (28.35 grams) looks like. This 1 ounce of bread contains 3,515 mg of gluten.
0.5 ounces of bread containing 1,757.5 mg of gluten looks approximately like this:
0.1 ounces of bread containing 351.5 mg of gluten looks approximately like this:
And like this:
If the above piece of bread contains 351.5 mg of gluten, 50 mg of gluten in the form of bread would look a bit like this (1/7 of the amount above)
And 10 mg of gluten (1/5 of the amount above) in the form of bread would look a bit like this:
And 10 mg of gluten in the form of toasted bread crumbs would look a bit like this:
If regular white wheat bread contains 12,400 milligrams of gluten per 100 grams (our original assumption), then it is comprised of 12% gluten. A photo of 10 mg of pure gluten would look a lot smaller than the above photo of bread crumbs containing 10 mg gluten.
EXCELLENT approach for those of us who are visual learning style….where seeing is understanding,….thank you.
So happy to hear the photos are useful to you.
When I first went gluten free I got a great piece of advice. So many people were trying to tell me just a little won’t hurt. I read an article that said for you gluten is poison. You must learn to think of it this way. Rat poison is poison and you wouldn’t have just a little of that would you? Words to live by.
Thank you, this helped me visualize the amount of gluten
Wow this is very useful.
I am such a sensitive Celiac, I shudder just looking at the 10 mg. plate. Three months of sickness for me. In my house we have separate toasters, cutting boards, squeeze gluten free condiments and separate natural peanut butter jars. I have a dedicated gluten free oven and an oven to bake non gluten free food for my husband. All the gluten free mixes are on upper shelves in my pantry. Gluten free and regular corn meal and flours are stored in air tight containers. Gluten free above the regular flour. Separate knives are used to prepare sandwiches to eliminate cross contamination. Separate baking pans and utensils. So far so good! 10 mgs. Not for this girl! I am striving for zero mgs.
Great visuals Tricia! I am actually surprised the 10 mg. is that much. Like Joanna above, I am far too sensitive for even 10 mg. & I have a completely gluten free household.
Keep in mind this is a photo of an amount of bread crumbs with an approximate gluten content of 10 mg. This is not a photo of pure gluten. The gluten content of wheat flour varies but it is approximately 10% to 12%.
I do understand this is not a photo of pure gluten but a photo of the amount of bread crumbs with an approx. gluten content of 10 mg. It still surprises me. I still thought it would be fewer crumbs to contain 10 mg of gluten.
If I saw that many crumbs on a counter top, I would be horrified.
For that matter, BC (before celiac ;)), if I saw that many crumbs on a counter top, I would be horrified but that’s just me; no one else has to agree.
Excellent job! People with celiac ask about this all the time so I’m sure this article and the photos will be helpful for many. Like Ann I too am surprised how big 10 mg looks. Thanks for all your hard work.
Cinde it’s my understanding that this is a piece of bread with a weight of more than 10 mg, which contains 10 mg of gluten.
Oh I believe you and I think this is excellent. But we can already see the start of a new conversation and there will be people thinking the celiac community over reacts to cross contamination. But I have faith we are a strong community and together we will keep moving the conversation forward. Thanks again.
Unfortunately that is because many do overreact and you can see it on FB groups often. Many literally think just being a grocery store is too much exposure since they have a bakery which they think is too much cross contamination.
The real issue for many people though is likely that they have undiagnosed comorbidities like food allergies, fructose intolerance, etc that can cause similar symptoms to having consumed gluten so they think they need much less gluten than even certified gluten free foods can accommodate. Not all food allergies cause anaphylaxis sometimes they look very similar to eating gluten, bloating, etc. I’ve seen that happen numerous times where they later found out that their extreme ‘gluten’ issues were actually celiac plus another issue. So just attributing their issues to celiac alone means that some people never get the additional help they actually need.
I’m going to have testing done in two weeks to see if I have celiac disease.
I’m supposed to eat at least 3 gm of gluten per day for two weeks prior to the testing. I have no idea how 3 gm’s translates to food items. Help!
This would be great in one-page infographic style
I’m just happy that I figured out how to upload photos within the body of the post!
I’m Canadian – is that a nickel?
It is a quarter.
Wow – thank you very much! This will help me explain why I pass on foods to the non-believers.
Wow I didn’t realize 10mg was so big. Just one of those tiny crumbs would make me sick if not even less. I’m super sensitive. I’ve gotten glutened when they don’t change gloves in restaurants when preparing my food
Sadly, I am extra sensitive and that would be far too much for me to handle. However, it is lovely of you to go to this trouble and add the pictures plus explain so well. I have, of course, shared it.
May I also take this opportunity to add an extra thank you for all the work that you are doing for coeliacs all over the world it is greatly appreciated by us all.
If you ever get the opportunity, I wonder if I could encourage you to look into the added (usually undeclared) maltodextrin that they add to freeze dried fruit powders and vegetables. It is apparently added for flow purposes in the manufacturing processes rather than for flavours, etc. Some of these product have 50% or more maltodextrin usually from wheat or corn and are usually, or at least from what I have seen declared as 100% fruit or vegetable powder, etc. I got caught out by innocently buying some natural vitamin C capsules that were 100% acerola cherry. After further investigation I found that they actually contained significant amounts of maltodextrin (I know that they advise that maltodextrin has only small amounts of gluten and so therefore shouldn’t ever be a problem – but it was). I am not sure whether it applies in all countries but if my understanding is correct, in either, some or all, if the maltodextrin is not an actual ingredient but used as part of the manufacturing process, then allegedly, it doesn’t have to appear in the ingredients list.
Thank you, Lynne. In the US, incidental additives fall under our allergen labeling law. if wheat-based maltodextrin was added as a flow agent it would have to be declared and wheat called out. Is this not the case for you? Do you have an example of a product that contains wheat-based maltodextrin that is not declared in the ingredients list?
Hi Tricia, I get glutened by wheat, barley, oats, corn and rye. I find that both wheat and corn maltodextrin produce symptoms in me whereas potato maltodextrin doesn’t so, I have to assume gluten is the problem. The capsules that caught me out were Time Health. I had a reaction and so contacted them via email and this was their reply to me (dated 13 November 2018):
You are correct EVERY Acerola Extract on the market today has to have a carrier, its scientifically impossible to make due to it being so sticky and to stabilize the product. Its only the non extract acerola that contains around 8% vitamin c is carrier free. Our capsules do however have the lowest % at 2%, most others are between 8% and 20%.
After a further query to find out what type of maltodextrin it was, I received this reply:
Its NOT wheat thats used its Corn. We would never use any wheat or gluten in any of our products.
The implication on their website is that they are clean with no fillers, binders or additives. Without re-contacting them again to see whether they still use the same source or whether they are now using a different source I obviously do not know if these are the same as the ones produced in 2018.
I started to get reactions to corn last year, out of the blue. At the time I was using Kallo stock cubes. They contain a yeast extract and because of that I contacted the company thinking it must be from barley malt (this is never declared in the UK). I was relieved to find they were using yeast extract produced from molasses. Still in pain and couldn’t fathom how gluten was creeping in as my diet was all fresh apart from the stock cube. Then by chance I saw some organic gluten free corn pasta and bought some. I only added a few spirals of it into a one-pot but had symptoms. These were repeated when I had something with some cornflour in. Then checked the stock cube and yes, it contained cornflour – just a tad. So I now react to corn too.
Regarding maltodextrin, I used to take Lactojoy tablets but these contain maltodextrin of which I have tried to find out the source and have never been able to so as they are made in Germany, assume that they are most probably from wheat. They also contain magnesium stearate. Magnesium stearate is often made from corn so I tend to avoid these days.
EU exemptions state: In addition to the above, Starch Europe would like to remind that in 2007, wheat-based glucose syrups including dextrose, wheat-based maltodextrins and products thereof (such as polyols) obtained a permanent exemption from allergen labelling. This means that the wheat origin of these ingredients does not have to be mentioned on the label of the final foodstuff intended to the end consumer. https://starch.eu/blog/2016/02/09/gluten-free-labelling-allergen-labelling-exemption-granted-wheat-starch-derivatives/
Always there is the potential for confusion, in this case there are some ingredients which are made from a cereal containing gluten where the grain is processed in such a way that the gluten is removed. These ingredients are safe for people with coeliac disease and therefore it is not necessary for the manufacturer to list the cereal they first came from.
The following ingredients are safe for people with coeliac disease:
glucose syrups derived from wheat or barley including dextrose
wheat based maltodextrins
distilled ingredients made from cereals that contain gluten, for example, alcoholic spirits.
AND, these are the requirements for European Gluten Free Certification:
Hi Lynne, Thanks for sharing. Do you have a link to the specific product you were taking from Time Health?
Problem with this is the air involved. The sticky gluten molecules probably would look like a minuscule amount but have a higher concentration of gluten for the space or size.
It is the case that this is bread BUT the mg amount of gluten present in the examples is based on the weight of the bread. The part per million level of gluten in each piece of bread, regardless of weight is the same. In other words if we were to test one ounce of bread and 0.5 ounces of bread, the ppm gluten level would be the same. What varies is the amount of gluten in each weight amount of bread.
Excellent, eye-opening visual aid. Thanks, Tricia!
You are most welcome, Kevin.
This dovetails nicely with the recent study regarding cross-contamination. Sometimes the odds are in your favor for a <20ppm event even if everything is not perfect. Doesn't mean you don't precautions to avoid it.
I am not a fan of that particular study. Please see https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/gluten-free-watchdog-comment-on-the-recent-gluten-cross-contact-study-preparation-of-gluten-free-foods-alongside-gluten-containing-food-may-not-always-be-as-risky-for-celiac-patients-as-diet/
I try for 0 gluten everyday!
WARNING! WARNING !
European Union Gluten-Free Regulation. … Foods labeled “gluten-free” are foods that contain no more than 20 parts per million of gluten (20 milligrams/kilogram) in the final food product as sold to the consumer and consist of: A. Ingredients that are substitutes for wheat, barley, rye, oats, and their crossbred varieties . That means if you eat 1.000.000 milligrams only 20 milligram is safe . Which this is really not a bread cramp . We are talking microscopic wiev of gluten. If someone thinks daily if they ate that cramps they are on safe side will make them extremely sick . 10 mg is legally 10.000 milligram so you are showing to people 10.000 milligram and giving them totally a wrong idea. 10 mg is safe is only at researches that published in US . The rest of the World is using 20 ppm. Which is above and it is in the regulation is not only a research . I hope you aware of with this article some of us can think especially little and young brains can consume that much gluten won’t hurt them. I am inviting you use only regulation and not researches because due of everyone’s duodenum damage is different level you can be responsible many of us get sick.
Hi Nazan, The research helped inform the regulation. Why? Because a one-ounce (28.35 gram) portion of a gluten-free product at a level of gluten just below 20 ppm contains approximately 0.57 milligrams of gluten. A person with celiac disease could eat approximately 17 ounces of gluten-free food at this level before reaching the 10 mg threshold. It goes without saying that gluten intake should be kept as low as possible.
Nazan, there are 2 different criteria that you are combining together. 20ppm is a limit for food producers who want to label their food as gluten free. 10mg is the safe daily intake limit for MOST people with Celiac. One is a ratio of the mass of gluten compared to the total mass of food. The other is just a mass. 1/2kg of food is 500g which is 500000mg. Multiply by 20 and divide by 1000000 and you get 10mg. So eating 1/2 kg (about 17oz) of food at a 20ppm level will leave you at your daily limit of 10mg. The average person eats about 2 kg of food per day so the 20ppm limit for food producers assumes that individuals with Celiac eat a diet targeting much lower cross contamination levels and that the 20ppm food will be blended with other food so the total daily intake is less than 10mg. Put another way, if you ate 2 kg of food in a day and it was all at 20ppm you would consume 40mg of gluten and would likely be sick. The 10mg limit is actually more strict than the 20ppm ratio.
Also, 10mg is not microscopic. For comparison, 10mg of water is 10cubic millimeters. This is a cube that is just bigger than 2mm on each side. It is not big but it is not invisible.
Thank you for taking the time to comment, Chris and for your great explanation.
“The rest of the World is using 20 ppm. “
No not the rest of the world .. Australia requires 0 or as close to measurable 0 ppm.( aparently no one can actually measure to actual 0)
Lots of American ‘gf’ foods make me incredibly sick.
And that amount of crumbs would have me housebound for atleast a week.
I’ve been glutened simply by touching a shopping cart handle and scratching my mouth. Actually ingesting that? ( shudders)
It is interesting. In Australia gluten-free foods supposedly contain 1.no detectable gluten, 2. no oats (regardless of test results), and 3. no malted gluten-containing grains (regardless of test results). However, wheat-based soy sauce is allowed in foods labeled gluten-free in Australia. And interestingly we’ve tested a labeled gluten-free brand from Australia. One product tested < 5 ppm, one product tested at 10 ppm, and another tested between 14 and 20 ppm of gluten. 87% of products tested through Gluten Free Watchdog test below 5 ppm of gluten.
This may seem like a silly question, but it came to mind after a conversation with a clerk at CVS whose 36 year old son is a Dx. Celiac. The clerk told me he eats bags of GF snacks and still has problems.
Question, if a serving of GF snacks has 5 ppm if you eat more than one serving or several of any food labeled GF, would you not be exceeding your GF limit? It just occurred to me that we might get glutened accidentally and repeatedly if this were true.
Thank you for your considered and educated answer.
Each one ounce amount of food with a gluten level of 20 ppm contains about 0.57 milligrams of gluten.
Each one ounce amount of food with a gluten level of 10 ppm contains about 0.29 milligrams of gluten.
Each one ounce amount of food with a gluten level of 5 ppm contains about 0.14 milligrams of gluten.
Hope this helps!
Tricia, thank you, yes it helps. Joanna
This is great! I’ve always wondered. Thank you!
Being another very sensitive celiac and seeing this amount of crumbs, it makes me wonder if the limits themselves are all that helpful. We’re told that damage is done with or without symptoms. This clarification seems to perpetuate how little we understand about what we can tolerate.
Excellent illustration & explanation, Tricia! You have a flair for turning the intangible (e.g. 20 ppm & 10 mg) into straightforward, tangible visuals which people in the celiac disease community can wrap their heads around. Thank you for all you do!
Thank you, T!!
Thank you very much for this presentation!
Hello Tricia- thank you for this explanation. So, just to clarify, if a celiac were to take a medication containing 1.3mg gluten per day, 1100mg/kg gluten, this should be way under the amount that would trigger a response in a celiac? Thank you for all your research!
Regardless of source, the total gluten load per day should be below 10 mg (considered a “safe” daily amount by many experts). 1.3 mg of gluten from a medication sounds high. Can you please let me know what medication contains 1100 ppm of gluten? Was this medication tested for gluten? If so, what assay was used. Thank you!
A little over a year ago I was diagnoses as asymptomatic celiac. I have no idea when I mistakenly eat something with gluten. I’m grateful I don’t have to worry about feeling sick. But I am interested in knowing if I am harming my intestines or risking long term complications by unknowingly consuming gluten (I’m still learning about hidden ingredients) or by having the odd cheat! Wondering if you’ve come across anything? Thanks!
Just to clarify… most of what I’ve researched speaks about symptom avoidance. So I guess my question is if the unseen effects (the intestines, long term risks) might be more tolerant. Or might my lack of symptoms be causing a bad case of wishful thinking… especially when dessert time rolls around?!
If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease it is important to follow a strict gluten-free diet even if you don’t have symptoms. Please see https://journalsblog.gastro.org/can-gluten-free-diets-benefit-people-with-asymptomatic-celiac-disease/ and https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/symptoms/