I have noticed a lot of references to gluten free products while looking around online lately. Gluten has long been one of the components of the diet that has given some people problems, though luckily for most of us it has no particular health issues. But it occurred to me that I didn’t know what its structure was, so I went off to google and found the Wikipedia entry for it. I didn’t find what I was looking for but what I did find was intriguing.Here is the introduction.
Gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue”) is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley, rye, and spelt. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations.
Well that is an interesting choice of words. Gluten is found in foods ‘processed from’ wheat etc. Why didn’t they just say made from? Could it be that they think processed sounds a bit more sinister? That is the first sentence. The second sentence is a straight forward enough description of what it does. And then in the third sentence we read that it is used in cosmetics. Gluten is an important component of bread, a major staple food and something that billions of people eat daily. But they ignore this and talk about it as if it is an ingredient in cosmetics?
I smell a rat. Let us leave aside the fact that gluten as gluten simply isn’t used in cosmetics. I have a database of over 6,000 raw materials that are used in cosmetics that I have built up over 20 years. Gluten is not on the list. There are some ingredients that are derived from wheat and its relatives, and these might just conceivably have traces of gluten in them. But even they are not that widely used.
For all practical purposes you can consider cosmetics as gluten free. This is a fact that is very easy to verify because if they contained gluten it would be listed on the ingredient list. There isn’t an official internationally recognised name for gluten itself – as I say I don’t believe it is ever used as an ingredient – but derivatives have names like ‘hydrolyzed wheat gluten’. You don’t need to be Dr Bunsen Honeydew to work that one out.
I have been asked by journalists about gluten in cosmetics a couple of times. I wrote a blog post on the subject after one such enquiry.
So anyone who takes the trouble to inform themselves will soon discover that gluten is not a problem in cosmetics.
In any case, as you don’t eat cosmetics it is unlikely they would do sufferers from gluten intolerance any harm even if they did contain gluten.
So it looks to me like the Wikipedia entry has been deliberately written to suggest that there is a non-existent gluten problem with cosmetics. I think somebody somewhere is hoping to make some money out of a scare story. Watch your pockets!
Wikipedia Entry on Gluten
And here is a screen shot in case it gets changed.