Is There Gluten Hiding In Processed Foods and Beverages?

Woman shopping cereals looking at food label

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Food manufacturers like using gluten as an additive in prepared foods. It's hard to blame them: Gluten is a cheap stablizer, an emulsifier, a thickener, and flow agent in literally hundreds of processed foods, from soups to self-basting poultry.

This guide to foods that are frequent sources of added gluten is not all-inclusive; gluten can turn up just about anywhere. When you aren't 100% certain that a food is gluten-free, contact the manufacturer before using it. To quote Benjamin Franklin, "When in doubt, don't!"

Potential Sources of Gluten in Processed Foods and Beverages

Watch for these words on labels. They are a tip-off that the product contains gluten:

  • Emulsifiers
  • Flavorings
  • Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
  • Natural Flavorings
  • Stabilizers
  • Starch
  • Baked Beans (Canned)
  • Baking Powder
  • Beer
  • Breadings and coating mixes
  • Brown Rice Syrup (May contain malted barley)
  • Canned meats and fish in broth
  • Caramel Color (Usually corn derived, but check)
  • Cheese products- Sauces and some shredded cheeses
  • Condiments (Carefully read condiment labels. Gluten is often used as a stabilizer or thickening ingredient in ketchup, mustards, and all sauces)
  • Deli Meats, breaded fish and meats, pre-packaged ground beef products and hot dogs
  • Dextrin (Usually corn derived but always check)
  • Dry-roasted nuts
  • Flavorings, food starches, seasonings, and malt are general and vague words to watch for on labels of packaged foods. These terms are often clues that the product may contain gluten. For example, "malt" vinegar and "malted" milk powder contain gluten.
  • Frozen french fries (In the coating)
  • Gravy Products (Dry products, bouillion cubes, and processed, canned products)
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) and Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • Imitation fish, meats, and cheeses
  • Instant flavored coffee/cocoa mixes
  • Licorice candy (black and red)
  • Matzo Meal
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Mono and di-glycerides
  • Pickled Products
  • Salad Dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce which is commonly made by fermenting wheat. (Check ALL processed sauce labels from BBQ sauce to ice cream toppings, chili pepper products, and tomato sauce products. All may contain gluten!)
  • Sausage
  • Self-basting poultry products including turkey with added "solutions"
  • Snack foods including flavored potato chips and corn chips
  • Soups, stocks, and broth
  • Spice and herb blends (spices and herbs in their natural form do not contain gluten)
  • Rice products with seasoning packets

Bottom Line: Read labels, contact manufacturers, ask questions, and don't use products that you are not 100% certain are gluten-free.​
Source: Benjamin Franklin Quote: