The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, have made Vatican-approved, low-gluten altar breads since 2004. These breads have been tested by independent laboratories and deemed safe for use for most people with Celiac Sprue Disease.
As early as the 1990s, the Benedictine Sisters started receiving requests for low-gluten hosts. With support from the Office of Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Benedictine Sisters produced a host compliant with the requirements of Canon Law and suitable for thousands of low-gluten customers around the world. These sales began in 2004, and the wafers have been approved by the USCCB for use in all U.S. dioceses.
The Benedictine Sisters are the largest religious producers of altar breads in the United States, making almost 9 million hosts each month. The low-gluten breads are produced in a separate facility in order to prevent cross-contamination. The low gluten breads are made from water and wheat starch that has had most of the gluten removed.
In 2004, Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, maintained that the amount of gluten contained in one of our low-gluten altar breads (tested at <.01%) was so minute a celiac sufferer would have to consume 270 wafers daily in order to reach the danger point. A test done in 2016 indicated the gluten content was less than .001%.
There are some people who are so sensitive to gluten that even the tiniest amount can cause discomfort. The Benedictine Sisters follow the recommendation set forth by the USCCB that those with such a serious gluten sensitivity discuss their condition with their pastor or Eucharistic minister. If the parish offers a separate chalice for celiac sufferers, he or she may partake of only the Blood of Christ. It’s best to avoid chalices that are used by those digesting regular altar breads as cross-contamination may occur.