Hidden gluten and controversial foods

Hidden gluten and controversial foods

Bailey Koch, RD, CSP, LD

Is a Registered Dietitian, board certified as a Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition. She founded Atlanta Pediatric Nutrition and joined the GI Care for Kids team, providing nutrition counseling to patients and families.

Thanks to the allergy labeling laws, all major food allergens must be identified in plain language on the nutrition label. 

Below is a list of foods and ingredients that may include gluten prepared by Bailey Koch, RD:

  • Alcohol and vinegar
    • If distilled properly, they should not contain gluten.  Be careful of any additives. Malt vinegar is not distilled so it is not gluten free. 
  • Annatto
    • Gluten free
  • Baking Soda
    • If made in North America, it is made from allowed sources.
  • Candy
    • Always read the label.  It is always a good idea to call the company and ask how the candy is made and packaged.
  • Caramel color
    • If made in the US or Canada, it is made from allowed sources.  If imported, the caramel color could come from malt syrup or starch hydrolysates that can contain wheat.
  • Citric, lactic and malic acids
    • Gluten free
  • Coffee
    • Okay if plain and manufactured in the US or Canada.  Flavored coffees and coffee substitutes may contain gluten.
  • Dextrin
    • If product is made in the US or Canada, dextrin usually comes from corn or tapioca.  If wheat is the source, the company must disclose this on the label. Imported dextrin may come from wheat.
  • Flavorings
    • If product is made in the US or Canada, gluten containing grains are rarely used.  
  • Glucose syrup
    • Gluten free. This is a highly processed ingredient that is usually made from corn in the US, but even when made from wheat is gluten free. 
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) and Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP)-  
    • They are added to many foods (soups, sauces, spice mixtures and gravies) and may come from wheat.  If made from wheat, the label will say so. Other sources include soy, corn, rice, peanuts, and casein.
  • Isomalt
    •  Gluten free
  • Lecithin
    • Gluten free
  • Maltodextrin
    • In the US, this ingredient is made from corn, potato or rice but NOT wheat.
  • Modified Food Starch
    • Sources include corn, tapioca, potato, wheat, and other starches.  In the US, if the label says "starch" then it is cornstarch.
  • Mono and Diglycerides
    • Are fats and therefore gluten free.
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Calcium Caseinate, Sodium Caseinate  
    • If product is made in the US, a gluten containing grain is not utilized.
  • Oat Gum
    • Gluten free
  • Seasoning/spices
    • Pure spices and herbs do not contain gluten.  Seasoning mixes may contain gluten.
  • Silicon Dioxide
    • Gluten free
  • Always read food labels.  
    • Recipes do change and therefore labels must be read every time you buy a product!  
    • Wheat is a major food allergen.  By law, all major food allergens must be identified in plain language on the nutrition label.  Remember that wheat free does not mean gluten free! Wheat free products may still contain barley or rye.
  • Call the company for any product you are unsure of the gluten content.

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