Canada's bread makers go to war against gluten-free

11/29/2012

The Canadian Millers Association, the Baking Association of Canada, Canada Bread Co. and Weston Bakeries are targeting the growing gluten-free trend by funding an information campaign on the benefits of a whole grain diet.

At the heart of the campaign is the not-for-profit group Healthy Grains Institute that is being funded by Canada's bread companies, according to a Vancouver Sun article.

The website, launched in November, says the institute’s mission is to "inform and enhance Canadians’ knowledge and understanding of whole grains, how they contribute to our health and weight management, to dispel myths around whole grains such as wheat, oats and barley; and the gluten-free diet," and adds it wants to give Canadians science-backed information on the benefits of whole grains as an important part of a healthy diet.

Dietitian, gluten-free diet author and celiac disease expert Shelley Case told the Sun she joined the group’s three-member scientific advisory board because it worked independently from industry to write fact sheets about wheat, gluten and weight management.

“We’re not just telling people to eat bread,” Case said in the article.

Unless people have celiac disease (estimated one per cent of the population) or a gluten sensitivity (six per cent), Case said it doesn’t make sense for others to cut out wheat-based products.

She pointed to the fact that both the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation recommend eating whole grains.

What has been a push in the anti-wheat movement has been the bestselling book Wheat Belly that says wheat is a big contributor to obesity in North America.

The Healthy Grains Institute refutes the claim made in the book that human bodies can't cope with today's wheat, which differs from the wheat eaten a century ago.

Along with Case, the institute's scientific advisory council includes Harvey Anderson, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Toronto and Ravindra Chibbar, a specialist in crop quality from the University of Saskatchewan.

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