Gluten Free Guerrillas
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How much gluten is a 'crumb' of bread?

If most coeliac people can tolerate 20ppm of gluten - does this mean that those same people don't have to be quite so vigilante in the cross contamination process. For example, if I'm one of those that can tolerate up to 20ppm as my Coeliac is realtively symptomless unless I have large amounts, would it matter if I do my toast in the same toaster as my husbands - would it matter if I use the same butter (and knife come to that) when spreading the toast, as my husband?

5 Replies

In a word yes all coeliac should avoid bread crumbs, gluten is toxic to all coeliac and one bread crumb contains around 10% gluten which's 100,000ppm.

This is also where it gets complicated because parts per million is a weight ratio so in theory you could eat X amount of bread crumbs and stay below 20ppm but you are making assumptions about the food that the bread crumbs are mixed with having a zero gluten content and the reason that processed foods have 20ppm is because they can not guarantee zero gluten.

What UK coeliac should bear in mind is that in Australia coeliac are told not to eat more than 5ppm and they do not eat low levels of malt, codex wheat or oats and >5ppm is undetectable gluten.

Being a ''super sensitive'' coeliac means that coeliac like me have to avoid ALL gluten so we can not eat oats labelled as gf codex wheat also labelled as gf and the irony is we are the lucky ones because we do not risk low levels of gluten or ''allowed'' levels of gluten into our bodies.

And as the ''allowed'' levels of gluten in gf food is coming down not going up, is allowed gluten a compromise? and how much of a carcinogenic/poison do you want in your food?

So my advice is to start off as you mean to go along so that others take your dietary needs seriously and don't have the misapprehension that a little won't hurt you, as it is you who will suffer the consequences.


I am very much of the opinion that we shouldn't be thinking "how much can I get away with". Gluten is toxic to us, any gluten, regardless of symptoms. Would you knowingly drink water with a "small amount" of toxic waste in it? I certainly wouldn't!

If a slice of bread is 10% (or 10,000ppm) gluten then, mathematically speaking, 1 crumb of bread is also 10% gluten as are 10 slices of bread, and so on, but we all know that if we ate 10 things that were each 20ppm we would, at the very least, feel a little bloated.

To my mind, the risks far outweigh the "benefit" of a shared toaster and only 1 pack of butter in the fridge.


Thanks for your replies - I didn't mean that I wanted to know how much I could get away with, we're told by all the professionals and the Coeliac Society that eating foods that contain less than 20ppm are safe for the Coeliac diet, so IF someone is not highly sensitive, does a crumb of bread come within that less that 20ppm amount. Jerry, I think you've answered that for me thank you - I now understand that a crumb of bread is likely to be many many more times the 20ppm that is acceptable for a Coeliac diet. I will continue to be vigilante in my cross contamination practises :-) Thanks again both.


Ironically the thing that few coeliacs are informed of, which would put their mind at rest about these things, is the effect of even super-micro-amounts of gluten occasionally in our diets.

According to many of the 'scientific' and 'case study' books and articles I have read injesting small amounts of gluten, however small, effectively keeps our systems on red, if not amber alert. For our autoimmune system to be in this state of agitation for a long time, even if we feel no symptoms, the body eventually tires and the long-term effects of coeliac disease kicks in, namely lymph cancers.

So many coeliacs seems to think they can have that weekly bread roll, or fish and chips, and maybe they can generally, but they are truely gambling with later-life complications. Some have said to me that its silly to have to watch that closely, as this means we have no life, and is the same as passive smoking or drinking occasionally, and they are correct to a degree. Its a personal issue that must be made by us individually. If you can avoid as much as you can so much the better. Chance will dictate that sometimes you will suffer due to carelessness or accident, but why increase that chance with risking it?

Be well. :)


Hi all.

Remembering the mouthfull of ulcers that I always had when undiagnosed keeps me vigilant about the one small breadcrumb. For no money in the world would I go back to those days. Oh the pain.


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