Contrary to a common assumption that, over the last 50 years, wheat has been bred to contain a higher proportion of gluten, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in January (2013) suggests that gluten levels in wheat have changed very little since the 1920s.
However, the overall consumption of wheat flour has increased significantly – an estimated 25% (2.9lbs/approx 1.3 kilos pere person) between 2000 and 2007. Possibly even more significant is the greatly increased use (tripled between 1970 and today) of the food additive 'vital gluten', added to baked products to improve their texture and consistency.
Vital Gluten is just that – more or less pure gluten. You can buy it to use in home baking – see this piece in www.thekitchn.com – but its main use is in the food industry – see here for example.
So although the amont of gluten in the wheat flour that we consume may have remained stable, the increase in both the amount of wheat flour that we eat and the amount of extra gluten added in the form of Vital gluten to the baked goods that we eat, mean that the average person's gluten consumption has increased dramatically in the last 30 odd years.
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