So would a vaccine simply solve the whole gluten free thing that we are confronted with every time we go shopping or in our food businesses?
Is the massive increase of gluten free foods actually about helping people with celiac disease or is it really about sales?
These are two questions now begging answers with the news that by 2017 there may be a suitable vaccine available for those who are currently unable to eat foods containing gluten.
A potential vaccine is about to start human trials and it is expected that within five years it will be available commercially. It contains very small components of the vegetable protein and when given in a series of increasing more concentrated doses the body builds up immunity to gluten.
Gluten is an essential part of a vegetarian’s diet as one of the replacements for the primary proteins found in meats, poultry and seafood. It is not something that will be going away anytime soon.
The alternatives to gluten in foods are more expensive so these foods are usually at a higher price, but people are paying this premium because the whole issue of gluten free is now getting confused into the health domain. Many people now eat gluten free not because it is essential to prevent an allergic reaction, but because it is now being seen as a healthy alternative – and can even “reduce weight”.
In short, the whole gluten free thing is huge and becoming a very big market (in the US alone, Celiac.com reports that sales were US$ 2.64 billion in 2010) with much confusion both within the food industry and by consumers.
A vaccine will potentially ease this rapidly growing issue, however what will happen to the massive numbers of products that are now being developed and labelled gluten free.
The concept of a gluten vaccine is being challenged by some individuals and groups on the basis that this disease and condition can be diet controlled – so why is there a need for a vaccine?
Many of the fast food chains are now serving gluten free but have said that they can always guarantee that the food is in fact free of gluten. This is not isolated to just the fast food industry, and raises the questions about what gluten free actually means.
We will just have to wait to see what happens.