11 Sneaky sources of Gluten and what to do instead
(Or, how to host someone with gluten sensitivity)
If your friend tells you they’re gluten-free you might wonder – what’s gluten? What do I cook for them? What’s OK for them to eat? I hope this article is helpful to you. You may also want to ask them directly.
If you’re gluten-free, I hope this list of sneaky sources of gluten can help speed your learning curve.
In order for something to be labeled as gluten-free in Canada it must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Also, in Canada, food products will typically be labelled with “gluten-free”, “contains wheat” or “contains gluten”.
Gluten-containing grains include: wheat, rye, barley, triticale, spelt, and kamut. Oats or oat bran are often contaminated with gluten. Other names for wheat include wheat bran, graham, wheat germ, bulgur, durum, and semolina.
The bottom line is, gluten-containing grains are used as fillers and additives in many products. So be sure to read food labels regularly.
1) Condiments, sauces and seasonings.
Many ketchups, mustards, soy sauces, marinades, salad dressings and barbeque sauces contain gluten. Sometimes it can be easier to make your own dressings, sauces or seasonings to provide flavour since many of these products contain hidden gluten.
Why not get creative with fresh or dried herbs and spices, lemon or lime juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar or hot peppers? Distilled vinegar is also usually OK, unless gluten-containing additives have been added back in afterwards.
If an ingredient list says the word spices on its own, it usually contains gluten. It typically means that spices have been put on bread that contains gluten as a filler, and that’s been put into the food product.
Man, did it take me forever tor realize that malt vinegar and most malted food products, flavourings and candies contain gluten. Caramel colour also often contains barley malt which contains gluten. This is often in many chocolate bars as well.
4) Thickening Agents
Thickening agents often contain gluten and may be used in prepared fruit and vegetable products.
5) Fillers in Meat
Watch for fillers in lunch meats, sausages, canned meats and other meat products as they often contain gluten.
6) Stabilizers in Cheeses and Ice Cream
Cheese spreads, soft cheeses, dips and some ice creams often contain gluten as stabilizers.
7) Binders and fillers in vitamins, supplements and medications
Check the label and request clarification from the manufacturers if necessary. Cough medicines often contain grain alcohol that could contain gluten.
8) Additives in Alcohol and Vinegar
If the product is distilled, then it shouldn’t contain gluten. However, many companies add gluten containing additives back in to vinegars and alcohols for flavour after distillation. Malt vinegars are not distilled. Beer also typically contains gluten.
9) Ingredients of unspecified grain origin
Unidentified starch or vegetable protein may contain gluten. Food manufacturers can provide additional information about their products. Their contact information is usually on the label. Restaurants have ingredient lists from their suppliers. When in doubt, ask.
10) Instant Coffee
Instant coffee can be contaminated with gluten. Some coffee flavourings also use malt which usually contain gluten.
11) Syrup in Candy and Gum
Syrup used in candy or gum can also contain gluten.
If you have any questions or concerns about going gluten-free or whether it’s right for you, contact your health care provider.