There are many food items that may contain gluten, often in hidden or unexpected ways. Always read the label of any food product you buy if “gluten-free” is not specified on the label.

A bowl of bananas and oats on a marble table.

Gluten-Containing Grains and Their Derivatives

  • Wheat
  • Varieties and derivatives of wheat such as:
    • wheatberries
    • durum
    • emmer
    • semolina
    • spelt
    • farina
    • farro
    • graham
    • KAMUT® khorasan wheat
    • einkorn wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Triticale
  • Malt in various forms including: malted barley flour, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Wheat Starch that has not been processed to remove the presence of gluten to below 20ppm and adhere to the FDA Labeling Law

 

A large platter of bread on a cutting board.

Common Foods That Contain Gluten

  • Pastas:
    • raviolis, dumplings, couscous, and gnocchi
  • Noodles:
    • ramen, udon, soba (those made with only a percentage of buckwheat flour) chow mein, and egg noodles. (Note: rice noodles and mung bean noodles are gluten free)
  • Breads and Pastries:
    • croissants, pita, naan, bagels, flatbreads, cornbread, potato bread, muffins, donuts, rolls
  • Crackers:
    • pretzels, goldfish, graham crackers
  • Baked Goods:
    • cakes, cookies, pie crusts, brownies
  • Cereal & Granola:
    • corn flakes and rice puffs often contain malt extract/flavoring, granola often made with regular oats, not gluten-free oats
  • Breakfast Foods:
    • pancakes, waffles, french toast, crepes, and biscuits.
  • Breading & Coating Mixes:
    • panko breadcrumbs
  • Croutons:
    • stuffings, dressings
  • Sauces & Gravies (many use wheat flour as a thickener)
    • traditional soy sauce, cream sauces made with a roux
  • Flour tortillas
  • Beer (unless explicitly gluten-free) and any malt beverages (see “Distilled Beverages and Vinegars” below for more information on alcoholic beverages)
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Anything else that uses “wheat flour” as an ingredient

 

Two granola bars on a cutting board.

Foods That May Contain Gluten

These foods must be verified by reading the label or checking with the manufacturer/kitchen staff.

  • Energy bars/granola bars – some bars may contain wheat as an ingredient, and most use oats that are not gluten-free
  • French fries – be careful of batter containing wheat flour or cross-contact from fryers
  • Potato chips – some potato chip seasonings may contain malt vinegar or wheat starch
  • Processed lunch meats
  • Candy and candy bars
  • Soup – pay special attention to cream-based soups, which have flour as a thickener. Many soups also contain barley
  • Multi-grain or “artisan” tortilla chips or tortillas that are not entirely corn-based may contain a wheat-based ingredient
  • Salad dressings and marinades – may contain malt vinegar, soy sauce, flour
  • Starch or dextrin if found on a meat or poultry product could be from any grain, including wheat
  • Brown rice syrup – may be made with barley enzymes
  • Meat substitutes made with seitan (wheat gluten) such as vegetarian burgers, vegetarian sausage, imitation bacon, imitation seafood (Note: tofu is gluten-free, but be cautious of soy sauce marinades and cross-contact when eating out, especially when the tofu is fried)
  • Soy sauce (though tamari made without wheat is gluten-free)
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Pre-seasoned meats
  • Cheesecake filling – some recipes include wheat flour
  • Eggs served at restaurants – some restaurants put pancake batter in their scrambled eggs and omelets, but on their own, eggs are naturally gluten-free

 

Three beers on a wooden table with coasters.

Distilled Beverages And Vinegars

Most distilled alcoholic beverages and vinegars are gluten-free. These distilled products do not contain any harmful gluten peptides even if they are made from gluten-containing grains. Research indicates that the gluten peptide is too large to carry over in the distillation process, leaving the resulting liquid gluten-free.
Wines and hard liquor/distilled beverages are gluten-free. However, beers, ales, lagers, malt beverages and malt vinegars that are made from gluten-containing grains are not distilled and therefore are not gluten-free. There are several brands of gluten-free beers available in the United States and abroad.

Other Items That Must Be Verified By Reading The Label Or Checking With The Manufacturer

  • Lipsticklipgloss, and lip balm because they are unintentionally ingested
  • Communion wafers
  • Herbal or nutritional supplements
  • Drugs and over-the-counter medications (Learn about Gluten in Medication)
  • Vitamins and supplements (Learn about Vitamins and Supplements)
  • Play-dough: children may touch their mouths or eat after handling wheat-based play-dough. For a safer alternative, make homemade play-dough with gluten-free flour.

Label Reading

Products labeled wheat-free are not necessarily gluten-free. They may still contain spelt (a form of wheat), rye, or barley-based ingredients that are not gluten-free. To confirm if something is gluten-free, be sure to refer to the product’s ingredient list.

Cross-Contact

When preparing gluten-free foods, it is important to avoid cross-contact. Cross-contact occurs when foods or ingredients come into contact with gluten, generally through shared utensils or a shared cooking/storage environment. In order for food to be safe for someone with celiac disease, it must not come into contact with food containing gluten.

Places where cross-contact can occur:

  • Toasters used for both gluten-free and regular bread
  • Colanders
  • Cutting boards
  • Flour sifters
  • Deep fried foods cooked in oil shared with breaded products
  • Shared containers including improperly washed containers
  • Condiments such as butter, peanut butter, jam, mustard, and mayonnaise may become contaminated when utensils used on gluten-containing food are double-dipped
  • Wheat flour can stay airborne for many hours in a bakery (or at home) and contaminate exposed preparation surfaces and utensils or uncovered gluten-free products
  • Oats – cross-contact can occur in the field when oats are grown side-by-side with wheat, select only oats specifically labeled gluten-free
  • Pizza – pizzerias that offer gluten-free crusts sometimes do not control for cross-contact with their wheat-based doughs
  • French fries
  • Non-certified baked goods e.g., “gluten-free” goods from otherwise gluten-containing bakeries
  • Bulk bins at grocery stores or co-ops

Easily contaminated foods:

  • Oats – look for oats that are specifically labeled gluten-free
  • Pizza – pizzerias that offer gluten-free crusts sometimes do not control for cross-contact with their wheat-based doughs
  • French fries
  • Non-certified baked goods – e.g., “gluten-free” goods from otherwise gluten-containing bakeries

If In Doubt, Go Without!

When unable to verify ingredients for a food item or if the ingredient list is unavailable do not eat it. Adopting a strict gluten-free diet is the only known treatment for those with gluten-related disorders.