Sources of Hidden Gluten

April 19, 2011

Sources of Hidden Gluten

April 19, 2011


I am on a gluten-free diet, but I still have some problems and am suspicious of hidden gluten in foods I eat. Is there a list of common ingredients that are not gluten-free, but seem to be according to the words used (i.e. caramel color, when derived from malted barley)?




Hi Matthew. Thanks for your question. You are smart to be suspicious of hidden gluten in the foods that you eat. As you may be aware, at present the FDA Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires labeling of the top eight allergens in foods, including wheat. This does not mean, however, that the absence of wheat on a label means a food is gluten-free. For instance, a product that contains soy sauce made from wheat must state that on the label, so you will know not to use that product. However, a food that contains malt vinegar, which contains gluten derived from barley, is not safe to eat on a gluten-free diet.

In regards to caramel coloring, the consensus among celiac experts seems to be that this is a safe product to consume.

In terms of your question about a list of common ingredients that are not gluten-free, but seem to be, I really like the following list from The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. It divides ingredients in to three sections: Ingredients to Avoid; Gluten-Free Ingredients; and Gluten-Free additives, with caveats listed for certain items.

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’ Getting Started Guide also includes a list of unsafe grains as well as a list of safe gluten-free substitutes and suggestions for when to use which substitute.

Always keep in mind, however, that if you ever have any doubt about the gluten-free status of a product, make sure you contact the manufacturer to ascertain the safety of that product.

In good health,

EA Stewart, MBA, RD