Another irritation yesterday in the form of the Independent on Sunday’s diary column, which refers to ‘sniggering in the pews of Oxford Cathedral’ when the bishop announced that gluten-free wafers were available.
According to their diarist (who goes under the pseudonym of ‘Sindy’, and wears a headscarf and dark glasses as a disguise), this statement was met with snorts of derision all round.
“Even the most intolerant communicant would have to eat an awful lot of glutinous communion wafer before having a reaction to it” spluttered one churchgoer.
This would presumably be someone in her own party, who goes to church perhaps once a year. At Christmas. Anyone going more often would know that gluten free wafers are increasingly common (at least in the Church of England). And surely no true Christian would mock the afflicted?
Research has found that for most coeliacs, the amount of gluten consumed per day should be less than 50mg to remain healthy – or 1/96th of a 30g slice of bread. 0.1g per day can cause damage. (The amount of gluten in wheaten bread is about 10% by weight). For some coeliacs (about 1 in 13) the amount consumed should be significantly less than this.
Inevitably, some gluten is consumed daily as a result of cross-contamination, and these microscopic amounts can add up quite quickly.
So yes, the amount of gluten found in a communion wafer could be enough to cause intestinal damage.
Congratulations to the Bishop, I say. I’m getting rather bored of the Indy’s ignorance of coeliac disease …