According to a new study in Italy, slow-fermented bakery goods, such as sourdough bread, could be safe for coeliacs to eat.

The study, by the University of Naples and the University of Bari, Italy, looked at whether the processing of wheat used for bakery products reduced gluten percentage, and found that fermentation significantly decreased the amount of native gluten present.

Thirteen patients with coeliac disease were divided into three groups. The first group were required to eat 200g per day of natural flour baked goods, the second were given baked food made from partially hydrolyzed wheat flour, while the third received baked food from fully hydrolyzed wheat flour. 

The study found that a 60-day diet of baked goods made from hydrolyzed wheat flour, made with sourdough lactobacilli and fungal proteases, was not toxic to patients with coeliac disease.

Two patients from the first group had to abandon the study after developing clinical symptoms. Patients from the second group had no clinical complaints but a biopsy examination showed that their intestinal lining had changed. However, the third group had no clinical complaints, their blood levels of markers of immune reaction and their biopsies showed no changes to the intestinal lining.