Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease where a protein called gluten in wheat (including spelt, durum and emmer wheat), rye, or barley causes an infection in the small bowel and damage to the microvilli. As a result, the absorption of nutrients becomes disturbed.
The exact mechanism that underlies coeliac disease is unknown, but certain hereditary predispositions and gluten is needed for it to break out. There may be also other factors influencing the outbreak of the disease but these are still unknown.
Approximately 2 % of the Finnish population suffers from coeliac disease, however only 30.000 have an official diagnosis.
How strictly does one need to adhere to gluten-freeness when making food or baking for a person with coeliac disease?
At present, the only effective treatment for coeliac disease is a lifelong total gluten-free diet. Even a small amount of gluten in food is detrimental to the health of persons with coeliac disease. In practice this means that food or ingredients, served to a person with coeliac disease, should at not at any stage be in contact with ingredients containing gluten.
Bread or pastries suitable for persons with coeliac disease should always be served on their own in a clean breadbasket or plate. It would also be beneficial to cover the bread with plastic wrap or a plastic dome. Also ensure that gluten is not transferred in shared butter, margarine or other spreads.