Tricia Thompson, MS, RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide and has a MS degree in nutrition from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts and a BA degree in English Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont.

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Living Gluten-Free

by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, The Gluten-Free Dietitian

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In recent weeks I have been contacted by several members of the gluten-free community and asked to look into the use of barley enzymes in Rice Dream and Soy Dream products labeled gluten free.

I spoke at length with Mohamed Obanni, Ph.D., who is Senior Director of Research and Development and Quality Assurance at the Hain Celestial Group, which manufacturers Rice Dream and Soy Dream products.

According to Dr. Obanni, the only labeled gluten-free products that contain barley-derived enzymes are Rice Dream beverages. These beverages contain a rice base that uses barley-derived enzymes in processing. This ingredient is included in the ingredients list as "brown rice (partially milled)."

Rice Dream frozen desserts also contain this ingredient but barley-derived enzymes are not used in processing. Soy Dream frozen desserts contain brown rice syrup but do not use barley-derived enzymes in processing. Likewise, Soy Dream beverages contain organic rice syrup but do not use barley-derived enzymes in processing.

Hain Celestial was extremely accommodating and willing to do everything possible to assure gluten-free consumers that Rice Dream beverages labeled gluten free are indeed gluten free. To this end, Hain Celestial agreed to run further tests on the enzyme preparation used in Rice Dream beverages. Dr. Obanni recently sent me the following communication and okayed its inclusion in this article.

"Thank you for your interest in Rice Dream products and for being an advocate of gluten free foods. I also want to thank you for the discussions we have had and advice about testing these products for gluten.

"I am happy to report that we have tested both the enzyme derived from barley in its native as well as denatured states, and the rice base used in Rice Dream products using both R-Biopharm Ridascreen Gliadin competitive assay (i.e., competitive R5 ELISA) and R-Biopharm Ridascreen Gliadin sandwich assay (i.e., sandwich R5 ELISA) The results from Food Allergy Research and Resource Program are Below Limit of Quantification (5 parts per million gluten for R-Biopharm Ridascreen Gliadin sandwich assay and 5 parts per million purified gliadin for R-Biopharm Ridascreen Gliadin competitive assay) for all products tested.

"This confirms our claim that Rice Dream products have tested BLQ for gluten and for gluten peptides. We appreciate your support for educating consumers about our products and clarifying the ambiguities about Rice Dream to the consumers and allergen networks that seek your advice."

Background Information
Barley enzymes may be used in the production of brown rice syrup, and similar rice-based ingredients to break down rice starch into sugar. Barley enzymes, depending on how they are produced may or may not be "contaminated" with the barley prolamin hordein (i.e., the prolamin in barley harmful to persons with celiac disease).

According to the cereal chemists I have spoken with, testing for hordein contamination in barley enzyme preparations can be tricky. If the hordein protein remains intact, or mostly intact, the sandwich R5 ELISA can be used to assess hordein contamination. If the hordein protein has been broken down, the competitive R5 ELISA should be used.

To cover all their bases, Hain Celestial tested their barley enzyme preparation using both the R5 sandwich and competitive ELISAs. They also tested their rice base using both assays. All products tested contained below the limit of quantification for gluten. The limit of quantification for the R5 sandwich ELISA is 5 parts per million of gluten; for the R5 competitive ELISA the limit of quantification is approximately 5 parts per million of purified gliadin.

Please note that unlike the R5 sandwich ELISA where assay results are reported in parts per million of gluten, results for the competitive R5 ELISA are reported in micrograms of peptide per gram of food. The limit of quantification for the competitive R5 ELISA is 1,250 micrograms of peptide per gram of food which is approximately equal to 5 parts per million of purified gliadin.

Based on the results of the tests conducted by the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, the barley enzyme preparation and rice base used by Hain Celestial in their Rice Dream beverages are gluten free and safe for gluten-free consumers.

For more information on the steps Hain Celestial takes to ensure products labeled gluten free are indeed gluten free click here.


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@ 10:54am ET on May 12, 2009
Enzymes can have a negative effect on ELISA assays methods and it would appear the enzyme that was derived from barley here was most likely amylase. While amylase itself should not have any effect on the R5 ELISA assay other enzymes present could and the only way to be sure that you are not getting a false negative results due to enzyme activity is to run a spike recovery with an inactivated sample. One might split the sample and add a know amount of gluten to one part and to the other part an equal amount of a negative control (rice flour). Then inactivate the enzyme (via autoclaving) and then run the samples side by side with the R-5 competitive ELISA.
That said, the amount of enzyme used would be a fairly small % of the total processed food and the amount of Hordein protein that might have survived the enzyme purification extraction process is likewise very small so overall it is unlikely that any detectable amount of protein from the barley would be present above 5ppm in the final product.-
Thomas Grace, CEO of Bia Diagnostics LLC "a leader in food allergen analysis"

@ 11:16am ET on May 12, 2009
Thanks, Thom and sorry I had to submit the blog before having a chance to include your statement in the actual article!

@ 1:43pm ET on May 12, 2009
Thanks Tricia for doing the digging on this one. Very interesting article and comments form Thom. Given Thom's bottom line, there would be no need for Hain Celestial to do the "spike recovery with an inactivated sample" in order to guarantee that the product is gluten-free. Interesting that it takes the barley enzyme to help convert the rice starch to sugar.... food science does get complicated!
Beth Armour, Cream Hill Estates

@ 11:39pm ET on May 12, 2009
We just went through the same thing in Canada with a national milk/yogurt/cottage cheese/cheese/sour cream etc distributor. They use their enzyme in processing however it does not affect the GF status of the final product. By mistake they released that they were using barley gluten when in fact it was barley enzymes. Canadian Food Inspection Agendy who we reported it to, has investigated and cleared the items as GF and the company is changing from these enzymes in their processing to be safe.

@ 10:34am ET on May 13, 2009

All I can say is that I have an actual allergy (confirmed by allergy testing) to barley malt and I react to the barley enzyme used in Rice Dream milk. It causes a rash on my foot and gives me brain fog. As soon as I learned about the use of barley enzyme usage in Rice Dream milk and quit using drinking it and using it in my recipes, my brain fog completely disappeared and my foot rash problem improved dramatically.

I would recommend that Rice Dream makers at least list on their cartons the fact that barley enzyme is used to process Rice Dream milk, since there are those of us who aren't Celiac but are ALLERGIC to barley and barley malt.


@ 11:00am ET on May 14, 2009
I'd be curious to know, given the above post on the effect of Barley enzyme on a barley allergic person, whether dermatitis herpetiformis is activated in sensitive individuals who are exposed to it.

As someone who maintains a strictly gluten-free household and rarely eats out, I am still subject to light outbreaks of DH and would be curious to be able to pinpoint the source. Is it unmeasurable hidden gluten? Is it exposure I get from breathing while walking through the bakery area of a grocery store?
I'd like to hear of any tests/studies that have been done on this matter.
I'd also like to know if people with recurring DH are more subject to the developing of other autoimmune diseases, if anyone has any info.

Kit Kellison, St. Louis. MO

@ 4:11pm ET on June 26, 2009
I've also experienced occasional dermatitis, usually diagnosed as eczema, or hives after accidentally consuming products with barley or MSG(aprx 25 years). Wonder if I'm hypersensitive to it? I also have thyroid issues (15 years).

Thank you for the information,

@ 12:55pm ET on January 8, 2010
I consumed Hain Celestial GF products for years while I was in grad school and too busy to cook, or think about how I was feeling. The long term effects of that low level contamination has ruined my health and life. I could never connect the dots to figure out what was slowly killing me until I found out that none of HC's products are produced on dedicated GF equipment - only cleaned and tested equipment. Making matters worse is the extent of the HC product line, including their many off label products. Trader Joe's soy milk and many other foods made by HC under confidential/ secret contract are also contaminated.
Thinking that we can clean glue/ gluten from nooks and crannies and then test subsequent batches of product for its molecular presence is hubris. There is no cleaning and there is no testing. Contact = contamination. Food science needs to catch up with reality and Hain Celestial needs to become upfront and honest with consumers by declaring on their packaging that their products are made on contaminated (or at least potentially contaminated) equipment and let the consumer decide if that product is gluten free enough for their individual needs.

@ 2:13pm ET on January 9, 2011
I admire the valuable information u offer in your message.
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That is very authentic & fantastic.

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