Scientists can now detect gluten in any food

This new way to detect gluten should make it easier for food companies to correctly label food

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) have announced that they’re now able to detect gluten in new grains.

Previously CSIRO had been able to detect gluten in wheat, barley, and oats. Now, they can also add rye to the list, completing the list of gluten-containing grains.

detect gluten
CSIRO protein analytics expert, Professor Michelle Colgrave. ©CSIRO

Analysing 20 cultivars or rye, from 12 different countries, the researchers extracted the gluten proteins to identify and quantify them. They found six proteins specific to rye, which aren’t found in any other grains.

Detecting gluten can be a complicated process. While finding the proteins in their original grain can be simple, the food products we find in supermarkets are often processed with other ingredients.

Currently, commercial tests can only detect that gluten is present in a food, but not which grain it’s from, or how much is present. Now that specific glutens can be detected in specific grains, we can expect improvements in food labelling in the future.

Professor Michelle Colgrave, a protein analytics expert from CSIRO, explains how this news will help both consumers and manufacturers.

“Being able to detect any protein in diverse foods and beverages will help food companies ensure that what’s in the pack is what’s on the pack, and help consumers trust pack labelling around gluten-free claims,” she said. “This technology offers many applications for the food industry from helping track contamination in their raw ingredient supply chain, to improving product quality, food safety and meeting regulations.”

Next, CSIRO hopes to validate the method to accurately quantify the amount of glutens present in a food. They’ will also work with the food industry and commercial testing laboratories to help commercialise the technology.

The research has been published in the Journal of Proteome Research.

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