Product Alert: Greens First Powder Mislabeled as Gluten-Free, despite Containing Sprouted Barley

October 22, 2014

Product Alert: Greens First Powder Mislabeled as Gluten-Free, despite Containing Sprouted Barley

People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid the Greens First Powder (product shown in attached picture), as it is unsafe for those with gluten-related disorders.

A National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) community member has brought an unsafe product to our attention. This product lists sprouted barley as an ingredient, yet bears a “gluten-free” label. Therefore, the product, Greens First Powder, is not gluten-free and should not be consumed by people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’).

Greens First

Despite its name, barley grass and wheat grass MAY be gluten-free, but only if the plants are picked before sprouting and producing seeds. Since some barley grass or wheat grass may have early sprouts, there is still a risk of it containing gluten. The tests used to check for gluten may sometimes either overestimate or underestimate the amount of barley in a food product depending on the specific assay used. Some celiac disease experts recommend that when purchasing a gluten-free product that contains barley grass or wheat grass, you should be sure to talk to the manufacturer about their policy for testing for gluten in both the ingredients and the final product, including the testing protocols used to determine the gluten-free status. As it can be better to err on the side of caution, some celiac disease experts recommend avoiding the grasses of gluten-containing grains altogether. Tricia Thompson, MS, RD has more information about wheat grass and barley grass on her website Gluten-Free Dietitian.

Sprouted barley, however, should notbe included in a product labeled as gluten-free, per the U.S. FDA gluten-free labeling rule. Barley sprouts with the germinating seed still attached should not be eaten by people with gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. While sprouting starts the process of breaking down gluten, harmful gluten peptides may still remain. As of August 5, 2014, any package claiming to be gluten-free mustabide by the outlines put in place by the FDA. To learn more about the ruling, visit

In addition to the concerns about the barley grass and sprouted barley, this product also includes oats in its ingredients label. While oats in their natural form can be tolerated by some people with celiac disease, they must be labeled or (preferably) certified gluten-free. This is because cross-contact can occur during the milling and manufacturing processes, making non-labeled or non-certified gluten-free oats dangerous for those with gluten-related disorders. This product is not transparent about the oats used in this product and it is unclear if the oats used are indeed gluten-free. Those who can tolerate oats in their diet must always ensure that oats used in products are labeled or certified gluten-free. For more information on oats, download NFCA’s free comprehensive resource, Getting Started: A Guide to Celiac Disease in the Gluten-Free Diet .