30. July 2019
Munich researchers test gluten sensor

A portable gluten sensor for home use has been available in Germany for around one year. Food chemist Katharina Scherf has received €20,000 in research funding from the German Coeliac Society (DZG) in order to test whether it really works.

Any non-professional can use the sensor to test the gluten content of small samples of foods within a few minutes. The quality of the sensor was tested in a preliminary independent study. The results showed that the test worked correctly for 96.5 per cent of foods with a gluten content over 20 mg/kg. However, it returned incorrect results on certain samples: the test was only 47 per cent correct on bread, pasta and puffed corn.


Katharina Scherf and her colleagues have now used the gluten sensor again to test 38 food samples from six different categories. They compared the test with known, reliable lab tests. The team was awarded the research prize of the German Coeliac Society (DZG) for their work, which comes with a research grant of €20,000. The results will be available in the summer of 2020, says Scherf.


What is coeliac disease?


Coeliac disease  is a chronic disease of the small intestine in which an autoimmune reaction occurs, damaging the mucous membrane of the small intestine. The main triggers are the storage proteins of wheat, rye or barley. Scientists also use the term ‘gluten’ to refer to these proteins. The only known effective treatment at this time is to avoid gluten. Foods labelled ‘gluten-free’ may only contain up to 20 mg of gluten per kg of product according to the EU regulation.





Press Release: 2019 research prize of the German Coeliac Society awarded to Katharina Scherf. Leibniz-Institut für Lebensmittel-Systembiologie, 10 July 2019 (in German).


Original publication of the study cited in the article: Taylor SL et al. Evaluation of a Handheld Gluten Detection Device. J Food Prot. 2018;81(10):1723-8



EU Regulation on Information about Gluten in Food



German Coeliac Society (DZG)