Is 20 PPM of gluten really that bad?


Continuing the discussion from Soylent Update 4/8:
Figure’d I’d split this into a separate thread.


While I agree that gluten-free is currently a fad for most people, I have also heard that for those who truely have Celiac’s disease, even tiny amounts of gluten are enough to make them sick. I can attest to the fact that once you stop eating a food you’re intolerant to, the amount that is required for you to react to it becomes smaller. It seems that people develop a sort of tolerance when they’re eating it everyday, then when they stop their bodies can become more sensitive to it. This is also true with some environmental allergies.

The gluten free diet: how many people need one, and why do we care?

Still, that is .02% of what something with gluten actually has. How much is an issue ?
“The current international Codex Alimentarius standard allows for 20 parts per million of gluten in so-called “gluten-free” foods for foodstuffs that are considered naturally gluten-free and 200 ppm for foodstuffs rendered gluten-free.[47][48][49] Such a standard also reflects “the lowest level that can be consistently detected in foods.”[50] In the European Union, the European Commission issued regulations in 2009 limiting the use of “gluten-free” labels for food products to those with less than 20 mg/kg of gluten, and “very low gluten” labels for those with less than 100 mg/kg.[51] In the United States, the FDA issued regulations in 2013 limiting the use of “gluten-free” labels for food products to those with less than 20 ppm of gluten.”

We are talking being right on the border for certification, and well below the boundary for something that normally has gluten. These certifications are probably stricter than medically necessary.


Yes, I have seen studies with peanut allergies, where they slowly introduce peanuts into someone’s diet, and they build up a resistance to (after several years) eating a handful of peanuts. It’s a great way to save a life for someone that previously could go into shock and die.[quote=“Mystify, post:3, topic:12040”]
These certifications are probably stricter than medically necessary.

That’s what I figured, but I wanted to get other people’s opinions on this as well. (Especially with the people that are so concerned about it in the 4/8 update thread.)


It does seem to be right on the border but I think Soylent Co is trying to be as definitively clear with their certifications as they can.
While this v1.0 shipment is probably able to squeeze a gluten free cert past whoever hands those out (FDA I guess?), because of the extreme dietary needs of some of the Soylent enthusiasts that we’ve all seen on the forums here, they’re holding off until it can be certified 100% gluten free.

It’s the better idea to maintain simplicity in their public image, have a gluten version now and then a totally gluten free version in a few months, than to have a semi gluten free version now that says gluten free and then a totally gluten free version later that also says gluten free and expect people who can’t eat the first one to know they can eat the second.

TL;DR: It’s simpler from a marketing and public perception angle and more scientifically/medically honest which is something Soylent has been damned good at since day one.


I have Celiac disease. I agree that much of the gluten free mentality is a fad. I’m glad for that because it affords me more options… but it also unfortunately serves to downplay the seriousness of my dietary requirements. It’s not an allergy, it’s an auto-immune disease.

With Celiac disease, 20 ppm CAN be a big issue. It depends on the person. And the more quantity of Soylent you ingest, the greater overall quantity of gluten passes through your gut. Your body doesn’t care how many parts per million are made of gluten; it finds any offending proteins in your intestines and activates the immune system to attack them. The villi and intestinal walls will eventually get destroyed through attrition if that keeps happening. One can even be doing damage to one’s intestines without displaying any obvious symptoms at all. And no, the FDA requirements are not more strict than is medically necessary for many people with Celiac disease.


So the “gluten free” labels are basically useless for you?


They are mostly useful. For me personally, it’s rare that something labeled Gluten-Free will cause me to react. But it has happened. There are other seals, labels and associations besides the FDA for different levels as well. Some seals appear to indicate foods with <10 ppm or <5 ppm. So that’s another handy thing to know. Obviously, the best thing to do is to stick to whole foods you prepare yourself…but the whole reason I want to try Soylent is to take a break from all that shopping, cooking, and label-reading!


For those of use with Celiac disease who pre-ordered (based on the data available at the time, that the product would be certified gluten free), can we get our initial order pushed back until the certification comes through?


Julio has mentioned elsewhere that those who are sensitive to gluten and wish to delay delivery until a gluten-free version is available should cancel your order and request a refund.

EDIT: Just realized I made an assumption, sorry. Leaving this here to teach me some humility.


As I understand it depends on whether and how strong a person’s response to gluten is. There are a few genes that control enzymatic production with regard to breaking down gluten. You can be missing 1 or 2 and it may not have much of an effect. There are also however, some folks that are allergic, rather than merely sensitive or intolerant, to gluten. And as far as allergies go sometimes it’s a graduated response and sometimes it’s like peanut allergies where around 20ppm give or take can induce anaphylactic shock. I don’t think gluten allergies respond quite the same way but my significant other cannot even handle bread without getting a mild rash. If she consumes eggs cooked on the skillet that I toast bread on her small intestines will swell for a few days to the point that it is noticable externally as well as causing gas and indigestion, and damaging her ability to absorb nutrients, calcium namely. Could be that she is a fitness nut and getting to be middle ages, but blood panels are not clear on that point.


Gluten is a compound plants produce to discourage consumption of their seeds, it may very well be toxic at some level for anybody. Although, not everyone has the same level of tolerance. Coeliac disease is the most severe reaction to gluten and even small amounts can trigger it.


Really glad I checked here first. Was just about to buy some too. I sure hope a GF version comes out ASAP. Seems like a great product and would be just what I’m looking for.


I eat gluten free but I don’t have to be as super-vigilant as some friends of mine. It is all very individual, not just the consumption limits but also the symptoms and the timeline they show up. My "half hour from now stabbing abdominal pain and diarrhea, then tomorrow joint pain " is, IMO, less severe than my friend’s “5 minutes from now puking up blood”. But I also have friends who willingly “cheat” and eat a cupcake, which I would NEVER EVER DO IN LIFE.

And as someone who travels a lot and eats out often, I am always trusting others with my digestive health. I have no issue with trusting Rob’s crew.

I’m chancing that by the time my order comes they will have it sorted. And I’m actually willing to chance whether 20ppm will make me sick or not. If it does, I will find out soon and resell the excess. If it doesn’t, sweet! Easy safe travel food!