Are you aware of these 15 hidden sources of gluten in food and non-food items? Odds are you weren’t aware of the prominence of gluten-containing grains in food and non-food products prior to being diagnosed with a gluten-related disorder.
Unfortunately, this is the reality that those diagnosed with a gluten-related disorder face every day. Leading a gluten-free lifestyle in a gluten-filled world is not an easy task—but it is possible.
The obvious sources of gluten include—breads, cakes, cookies, and pastas. In this blog post, I’ll provide examples of food and non-food sources that could contain gluten beyond these obvious sources.
1.Beer: Most alcoholic beverages do not have an ingredients label in the United States because they are not a regulated FDA product. Traditional beers are made with gluten-containing grains, usually barley or wheat.
- Remember that gluten-reduced beers are not a safe option for those with Celiac Disease.
2.Canned Soups: Gluten-containing grains, usually wheat flour, is often used as a thickener for soups.
- Example: Wheat flour has been added to Campbell’s Broccoli Cheese Soup.
Campbell’s Broccoli Cheese
Campbell’s Broccoli Cheese Ingredients
3.Cereal: It is easy to identify gluten-containing grains on cereal when it is obviously labeled as “wheat, barley, and rye”. Wheat has become easier to identify under the The Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act by the FDA in the United States. Yet, barley and rye can be a lot harder to identify.
- Example: Barley is hiding under the ingredient malt flavoring in Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal.
Rice Krispies Ingredients
4.Chips: It can contain gluten-containing grains, malt flavor, or soy sauce.
- Example: Wheat-Starch is added to Pringles.
Pringles Sour Cream and Onion
Pringles Sour Cream and Onion Ingredients
5.Gravy: Gluten-containing grains, usually wheat flour, is often used as a thickener for gravies.
- Example: McCormick Brown Gravy contains enriched wheat flour, wheat starch, and wheat protein.
McCormick Brown Gravy
McCormick Brown Gravy Ingredients
6.Ice cream: It can contain pieces of gluten-containing food products—brownies, cakes, or pretzels.
- Example: Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core contains wheat and barley flour.
Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core
Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core Ingredients
7.Malt Vinegar: If you see the word “malt” on an ingredient label you should run far away. The word “malt” on a food label indicates that there’s gluten present in the food product usually in the form of barley.
8.Makeup: It is possible that a gluten-containing ingredient is used in makeup products. Although gluten cannot be absorbed through the skin, it’s important to be careful with make products as they can be accidentally ingested.
9.Medications: It is possible that they contain inactive gluten-containing ingredients. Always mention to your physician and pharmacist that you cannot have gluten to find safe medications.
- Be prepared to reach out to manufacturers to find out more information.
- FDA maintains a database for inactive ingredients of approved drug products.
- Supplements are not regulated by the FDA but can potentially contain gluten-containing ingredients.
10.Oats: Oats are naturally gluten-free but they are often contaminated with gluten-containing grains. You should only consume oat in food products if they are marked as gluten-free.
11.Pet Food: Gluten-containing ingredients can be found in pet food. This is something to keep in mind if you have a 100% gluten-free household. Or a young child with Celiac Disease that can accidentally ingest gluten-containing pet food.
- Example: Purina Beneful Baked Delights Hugs Dog Treat contains ground wheat, wheat flour, and wheat starch.
Purina Beneful Baked Delights Hugs Dog Treats
Purina Beneful Baked Delights Hugs Dog Treats Ingredients
12.Play-Doh: There is no ingredients label on a Play-Doh container because it is not intended to be consumed. Yet, it contains wheat. This can be a problem for small children that may accidentally ingest it.
- From Play-Doh: “The exact ingredients of Play-Doh compound are proprietary, so we cannot share them with you. We can tell you that it is primarily a mixture of water, salt, and flour. It does NOT contain peanuts, peanut oil, or any milk byproducts. It DOES contain wheat. Play-Doh compound is not a food item and is not intended to be eaten.”
13.Processed Meats and Meat Alternatives: Gluten-containing ingredients can be added as a thickener. Or soy sauce can be used as a flavor enhancer.
Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger
Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger
- Example: Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burgers contains wheat gluten, bulgar wheat, and soy sauce with gluten in it.
14.Sauces: Gluten-containing grains are frequently added to sauces. Be sure to read the label thoroughly.
- Example: Traditional soy sauce is a common ingredient that is often added to additional products. Unfortunately, it contains wheat. Keep this in mind the next time you order sushi.
15.Spice Mixes: Individual spices are gluten-free. Yet, you have to be more careful of premade seasoning blends.
- Example: McCormick Cheesy Taco Seasoning Mix contains enriched wheat flour.
McCormick Cheesy Taco Seasoning Mix
McCormick Cheesy Taco Seasoning Mix Ingredients
Gluten can be found in any food and non-food item. This is why it is so important to label read every single time you purchase a packaged food product. Follow me on Instagram @celiacsimplified where I hold “Hidden Gluten Wednesday”.
- Hlywiak, Karen H. “Hidden Sources of Gluten.” Practical Gastroenterology, Sept. 2008, pp. 27–39.