The first procedure capable of analysing gluten avenins in gluten-free food samples aimed at the diet control of coeliac patients is described. The method is based on the direct observation of the characteristic avenin mass pattern, around 20-30 kDa, as revealed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI/TOF-MS). The mass range where avenin signals appear is free from mass peaks arising from wheat gliadin, barley hordein and rye secalin protein components, which are also toxic to coeliac patients. Therefore, avenins can easily be screened in complex formula food samples elaborated with mixtures of wheat, barley, rye and oats. In addition, a procedure to quantify avenins in food samples is described on the basis of avenin mass area measurement with a detection limit of 0.4 mg of avenins per 100 g of food.