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Define standards for gluten-free food: Experts


Define standards for gluten-free food: Experts
TNN | May 3, 2014, 11.47 PM IST


NEW DELHI: Imagine it's your child's birthday and s/he can't have a piece of cake. This can happen if s/he has Celiac disease (or wheat allergy), which is a type of food allergy where individuals are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in wheat and related cereals. About 1 crore people are suffering from Celiac disease in India, and about 1.5 lakh of them are in Delhi.

This was the topic of discussion at the Celiac Day organized by Celiac Support Organisation (CSO), Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) and Times Foundation at Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi on Saturday where around 500 celiac patients and their families participated.

Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP and Bihar have a higher number of celiac patients. As hypersensitivity to gluten is genetically determined, there is no cure for the disease at present but it can be managed by staying off all forms of gluten in the diet, Dr S K Mittal, president of CSO, said. He stressed on the need to formulate a national standard for defining gluten-free foods.

"There is an urgent need for a national public awareness campaign on the lines of Thalassaemia. The government must ensure availability of tested, certified gluten-free foods at reasonable rates," Dr Mittal said.

"We need to have a positive thinking to fight the disease. I appreciate Times Foundation joining the cause and would like to appeal to other corporates to play a role in the fight against Celiac disease."

"Typical symptoms of the disease are loose motion, anaemia and short stature. However, almost 50% may present atypical symptoms and that's why the disease doesn't get picked up easily. There is no particular age at which the disease may present," Dr Sushma Narayan, secretary general of CSO, said.

Dr Rajarshi Bhattacharjee, National Head, Health and Wellness, Times Foundation, emphasized the need to create public awareness. "Times Foundation is happy to support the cause so that voices of people suffering from the life-long Celiac disease are heard by the government for necessary actions. This will go a long way to reduce expenses for managing the disease," he said.

Times Foundation encourages all corporates to take up the cause as part of their CSR activity. For support, please mail to csoindia@gmail.com or rajarshi.bhattacharjee@timesgroup.com

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