(Podcast) Is wheat starch safe for those with celiac disease?

wheat starch and celiac disease
On today’s Dear Gluten Dude podcast, we’re talking about pizza. And more specifically, if wheat starch is really safe for someone with celiac disease. Transcription can be found below the podcast recording.

Podcast Transcription

Hey everyone, welcome to Episode One of Dear Gluten Dude where I answer emails sent to me from the celiac community regarding a whole range of topics. Today we’re talking about pizza. And more specifically, if wheat starch is really safe for someone with celiac disease. This episode is sponsored by absolutely no one but I do have an awesome mobile app that can help you live a better gluten free life. Just check it out at glutendude.app. Alright, let’s go to the inbox.

Hello gluten dude. My daughter is 18 and has celiac disease. She has had an accidental exposure recently to Digiorno gluten free pizza. She had such a violent reaction to it where she ruptured the vessel in her stomach and vomited blood. They are not certified gluten free and use the gluten-removed wheat. How is this possible? And how is this legal?

Hey there, thank you for the email. In short, it is definitely possible and frustratingly legal. First things first, let’s check out the Digiorno pizza box. Let’s see it says gluten free in big bold letters on the front. So hey, it must be safe, right? But wait, there’s a warning on the back of the box that says contains wheat. So how can it be gluten free and contain wheat? That is the million dollar question. Let’s check out the ingredients Shall we?

First ingredient water I think water is safe for those with disease? Don’t you agree? Second ingredient, wheat starch!! I guess the first question is what the hell is wheat starch? All right. So I’m not going to go into the science behind it for this podcast. You can do some reading on it. But basically, wheat starch is the starch from a wheat grain that has been processed to remove the gluten protein. I’ll say that again. Wheat starch is the starch from a wheat grain that has been processed to remove the gluten protein.

Okay, now we have a definition. But is it safe or not? Well, on the Digiorno box that says the wheat starch has been processed to allow this food to meet the FDA requirements for gluten free foods, which of course is under 20 parts per million. That does not answer a question. So let’s go to the Gluten Free Watchdog. If you don’t know her, I suggest you follow her. She is a scientist. She is smart. She does a lot of testing. She posts her results on her website and she is good people. So what is gluten free watchdog say about wheat starch. She says wheat starch is not wheat grain and it is not wheat protein. It is not intended to contain any gluten, but it is very difficult to completely separate the starch and protein components of wheat. So small amounts of gluten remain in the wheat starch. Not all wheat starch is created equal she says depending on the extent of processing, wheat starch will contain varying amounts of residual gluten. A recent study found that wheat starch can contain from five parts per million of gluten to over and get this 10,000 parts per million of gluten. saying she continues to say that the FDA considers properly manufactured wheat starch to be free of gluten protein and protein and ingredient processed removed gluten regardless because of the current limitations associated with testing wheat starch for gluten. It is the opinion of gluten free watchdog that products containing wheat starch are best avoided by individuals with celiac disease. So now we know that wheat starch can be safe, but also cannot be safe.

So the question is how does Digiorno explain themselves that this product can be trusted by the celiac community? Well, they have an FAQ on the website just for the gluten free pizza and I will read a couple of the questions and a couple of the answers to get an idea of what the hell they are saying question. Are these products really gluten free? Answer Yes, we At the exclamation point, they meet the FDA requirements for gluten free for question I have celiac disease can I eat these products? Answer? Well, we can provide specific dietary advice to our consumers who have celiac disease who are otherwise sensitive to gluten. We can assure you that these products meet the FDA requirements for gluten free foods, which can be tolerated by most people with celiac disease with an emphasis on most my emphasis, not theirs. So that is a basic cover your ass statements saying hey, yeah, it’s safe, but maybe not for all of you. But if you get sick, you can’t sue us because we told you might not be safe for all of you. Ha ha ha ha. Question. Are you certified gluten free?

How can you prove your pizzas are gluten free? Answer average or no gluten free pizzas are not currently certified gluten free by a third party. But we are in the process of obtaining the certification, and it will update our website and packaging when they are third party certified. Separate from that. We have conducted extensive testing to verify that these products meet the FDA requirements for gluten free food. My question is do you mean you’re testing every box of pizza that goes out because as we know with wheat starts, some gluten can be left behind. So while nine pizzas may be safe, that 10 Pizza may not be safe is a Russian roulette. You bet it is. Last question. What third party Are you working with to get certified answer until we go through the full certification process. We aren’t able to share that well. Thanks for all your help. Digiorno pizza.

So who else is talking about wheat starch and Digiorno Pizza out in the celiac world? Well, celiac.com who is my least favorite website for the community. I’ll explain that in a second. And you can always go to my blog and search for celiac.com and see what my beef is with those folks. They did two tests on no pizza and one of them came back not gluten free. Now they use the NIMA sensor NIMA sensor has its own freakin problems. But still for your knowledge one pizza came back not gluten free. But let me tell you this about celiac.com. Before Digiorno Pizza even reached the store shelves, the gluten free Digiorno of course, celiac.com wrote an article promoting the pizza with the following garbage and I quote “Digiorno is shaking up the frozen pizza game with their new gluten free pizza. Great news for gluten free pizza lovers, especially for any Digiorno fans who have missed their favorite frozen pizza since going gluten free.”

What the ever living hell crap is that? How can celiac.com who sadly thousands of people depend on for accurate information, promote a pizza before they even know if it’s safe? Now is it possible it’s dollar signs. It’s very possible. I don’t know that for a fact. But isn’t pretty much everything about money. This actually reminds me of when the celiac disease foundation who blocked me in social media for various reasons. promoted gluten free Cheerios, and took a shitload of the money. before they even knew it, the Cheerio was would be safe. And we all know how that turned out. And yes, the CDF still takes the money, just like they take money from Nestle. And who does Nestle own? Digiorno.

In summary, wheat starch may or may not be safe for those with celiac disease. And I know what you’re saying, I just listened to a seven minute podcast and you can’t give me a definitive answer. So here’s the deal. The safety of the wheat starch depends on two things. One, it was tested and showed that it was under 20 ppm, allowing it to be labeled gluten free. And it also depends on your faith in the company that is selling the product. Yes, it’s illegal to have a gluten free label if the product has over 20 parts per million of gluten. But no, it’s not enforced unless enough people lodge a formal complaint with the FDA. So do you trust nationally one of the biggest companies on the planet to keep you safe? When these huge conglomerates have shown over and over again that they put profit over people? I do not and I will not be eating Digiorno pizza and I don’t recommend that you do either. And yes, that’s my final answer.

And that’s a wrap of Episode One of deer gluten dude. Thank you everyone for listening or anyone for listening. If you’ve got questions about living with celiac disease, send me an email and I’m more than happy to help just head on over to glutendude.com and send me a message and who knows it may even become its own podcast episode. And please do not forget to check out my mobile app over at glutendude.app. If you’ve got celiac disease, you seriously need this app. Til next time, my friends.

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4 thoughts on “(Podcast) Is wheat starch safe for those with celiac disease?”

  1. Hey there Dude. This subject has been discussed ad nauseum on several FB pages and it’s nice you have finally found us some answers. Schar has been using wheat starch for years in at least two of their products as have gf bakeries in Europe for 30 years or more. But your podcast was about that pizza. I haven’t even seen it yet in our local stores- and, as I am NCGS it might not bother me. As I have told many, “if you are a newbie or very sensitive don’t even try it. Others- eat at your own risk! The Schar product may- in fact- be safer than any other as they have been in business a very long time. I understand the process used is very similar to distillation but after listening to you, now I am not so so sure about diGiorno.

      1. I’m with you Gluten Dude. I don’t want more overprocessed junk to eat. I want less. I want more simple recognizable ingredients that aren’t making me worried. And I”m betting most moms do too. I couldn’t care less what they do in Europe.

  2. I know being a mom is busy, but there are way better options for even frozen pizza then this one. Making a batch of homemade pizza shells isn’t that hard either. Freeze them yourself at home, top, bake when needed. Or just use your (brand new never had gluten in it) bread machine to make loaves, slice the loaves the long way, and make homemade “Ellio’s style” pizzas on toasted bread. You can make the loaf once a week and keep it just for pizza.

    She’s right, this should not be legal. This should be the focus of a lawsuit that ends the practice. There is no reason for food manufacturers to even bother with wheat starch in the first place. It’s a solution that’s not needed and is harmful.

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I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

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