Hidden Gluten

When someone is first diagnosed with celiac sprue, one of the most difficult things to assess is which ingredients actually contain gluten. Get comfortable with calling the 1-800 numbers on the back of product labels. Most companies are happy to tell you which of their products are gluten-free.

Here are several good resources for safe and unsafe food ingredients:

A "Short List" of gluten-containing foods:
Wheat, rye, oats (due to cross-contamination), barley, spelt, bulgur, couscous, durhum
  • Baked goods -- bagels, biscuits, bread, breadcrumbs, buns, cake, croissants, cookies, crackers, doughnuts, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, waffles
  • Beer
  • Breaded, fried foods -- chicken nuggets, fish sticks, tempura
  • Cereal - cereals often contain barley malt as a sweetener. Beware!
  • Croutons
  • Flour
  • Flour tortillas
  • Some Hot Dogs
  • Ice Cream Cones
  • Malt -- vanilla malts, malted milkballs, barley malt sweetener all contain gluten
  • Pasta
  • Pizza
  • Pretzels
  • Some Salad Dressings
  • Some Soups -- creamy and roux-based soups almost always contain gluten
  • Soy Sauce -- use a gluten-free tamari sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos instead

Tricky Ingredients:
There is a lot of confusion about whether or not certain ingredients are gluten free. This information may help clarify:
  • Celiac Sprue Association defines the term "gluten free" on this website.
  • Caramel color is produced with glucose from corn, or sometimes sucrose (table sugar) in Canada and the US. In other countries, caramel color may be produced with gluten-containing products. The soft drinks made by the Coca Cola Company and the Pepsi Cola Company are all gluten-free. 
  • Vinegar - all vinegar with the exception of barley malt vinegar is gluten free. Distilled vinegar is safe for a gluten-free diet.
  • Modified Food Starch - Now, by law in the US, if modified food starch is from wheat, it must state so on the label. It may be identified as modified wheat starch, modified starch (wheat) or it may merely say “modified food starch” but the allergen statement on the product would have to list wheat. All other souces of modified food starch are gluten free. The other sources are most commonly potato, corn, and tapioca.
  • Natural flavor, natural flavoring, and flavoring may be derived from gluten-containing grains. BUT unless you see the words wheat, barley, rye, or malt on the label of food product containing natural flavor, the natural flavor probably does not contain protein from these sources. 
  • Fast Food is becoming easier to eat as awareness increases. Here are some GF fast food links: http://www.ehow.com, and http://www.celiac.com.