Click on any topic to get the facts about whether an ingredient or food contains gluten or is gluten free. You’ll also find answers to questions about labels and cross-contamination.
Is general anesthesia used during surgery safe for those who follow a gluten-free diet? Many medications are wheat based and I am told that is also true of anesthesia.
You have to ingest gluten for it to be harmful. General anesthesia is either injected or inhaled. It would be in the form of gases or medication dissolved in a solvent, either water or saline. There is absolutely no risk of gluten in anesthesia.
Medications are rarely given by mouth prior to surgery because the stomach has to be empty for at least eight hours before surgery begins.
Most prescribed medications in the US do not contain gluten. Cornstarch is the filler, according to Peter Green, MD, founder and executive director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.
I continue to find differing views on this subject: Is there gluten in either scotch or bourbon? There doesn’t seem to be any consensus.
Both of these alcoholic beverages are distilled. While there may be a lack of consensus in the celiac community, the scientific community is in total agreement that distillation effectively removes gluten peptides.
That means the resulting product would be gluten free unless something that contains gluten was added after distillation, which would be unusual in alcoholic beverages.
My daughter is a big cereal eater but hates all the glutenfree cereals currently on the market. We were wondering if any “regular” cereals that we find on supermarket shelves are gluten free. We heard that Corn Pops used to be gluten free but they aren’t any more.
What you heard is correct. Corn Pops are no longer safe for those on the gluten-free diet.
Are you sure you’ve tried all of the gluten-free cereals currently available? They may not be on supermarket shelves, but they are usually easy to purchase.
If a single cereal doesn’t please her, try more than one. Some people mix cereals—a little of this and a little of that—and concoct their own blend. Your daughter might enjoy creating something that is “hers.”
If all your efforts to find a cereal fail, you will have to look at alternatives. Vans and Mesa Sunrise waffles are gluten free. You can make and freeze gluten-free pancakes yourself.
Gluten-free bread can make toast, which becomes cinnamon toast if you sprinkle cinnamon sugar on it.
Yogurt and fruit also make a good breakfast that doesn’t take a lot of time. Yogurt seems to be a kid-friendly food.
Finally be sure to read the article about whole grains that begins on page 16. Everyone, whether on the gluten-free diet or not, is being encouraged to consume whole grains which are a lot healthier than many cold cereal products found on the supermarket shelf.
I am new to gluten-free living. I have been unable to locate any information about whether semolina contains gluten. Do you have any information that will clear this up for me?
Semolina is a form of wheat and therefore not safe for those who follow a gluten-free diet. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which went into effect last year, says processors have to identify wheat in common terms.
That means, the label should now read: “semolina (wheat), which is the way I would think processors do it. Or they may use the phrase “contains wheat” below the ingredients list.
Other names for wheat are durum, farina, einkorn, bulgar, cake flour, matzo and couscous.
Spelt and kamut are forms of wheat and triticale is a combination of wheat and rye. Avoid them all.*
*Gluten-Free French Desserts and Baked Goods is a new gluten-free cookbook on the market that is especially attractive. But some of the recipes call for “rice semolina” or “cream of farina.” The authors are simply misusing the terms and mean a form of rice or cream of rice cereal. But their misuse could be dangerous. The words semolina and farina refer to wheat. I called the publishing company and they are going to correct the error when they reprint.
Are red potatoes ok for a glutenfree diet? I am catering a wedding for a bride who has celiac disease and wants all the food to be wheat and gluten free.
Potatoes have nothing to do with the gluten-free diet, which excludes wheat, rye, and barley.* They might be cooked with gluten-containing ingredients, but potatoes themselves are gluten free.
It’s easy to make the gluten-free diet complicated. That’s why we sometimes hear questions that seem to come from left field.
For example, we were recently asked if peanuts were gluten free (they are). Products that contain peanuts might also contain gluten but in and of themselves peanuts are gluten free.
* Currently oats are not universally recommended for the gluten-free diet here in the United States due to fears of contamination. But studies have shown that a limited amount of oats is safe for most people who follow a gluten-free diet.
I have a salad dressing I’d like to use but can’t get in touch with the company. According to the label, it contains soya oil, sesame seed oil and ginger. Have you ever heard of soya oil? I was wondering if it is gluten free.
Soya is another name for soy. According to the dictionary, “soya” is the term used in the United Kingdom to refer to soy. To follow the gluten-free diet, you need to avoid wheat, rye and barley. Soy or soya is gluten free.
Do the new biodegradable utensils ever contain gluten? I thought they were made of cornstarch, but saw a sign at our local health food store saying they are made of corn and wheat. Since they are becoming quite common and sometimes start to melt in hot meals, I thought I’d better double check.
All of the biodegradable companies we looked into or contacted sell utensils made from corn or potato starch. Kyle Jodice of Let’s Go Green said the company’s utensils are made from corn and potato and would pose no threat to gluten- free consumers.
Knives, forks and spoons sold by Vegware US are also made from these gluten-free starches, according to company representative Andy McKnight. McKnight also noted that the starch used in the utensils would not be ingested by someone using them. Vegware uses a thermoplastic resin, called Plastarch or PSM, that can withstand heat over 200 degrees Fahrenheit so they don’t melt
in hot foods.
Another company makes utensils it calls SpudWare™ from potato starch.
But I did find cups made with wheat starch. Vegware’s cold drink cups are made from polylactic acid, a bioplastic that is made from corn and other starch, including wheat. McKnight said the bioplastic is chemically bonded and does not break down to its original components. The company’s hot cups use a bioplastic made only from corn.
Biodegradable plates and bowls are usually made from sugar cane fiber, also called bagasse.
Representatives of the biodegradable industry say the use of wheat starch in products has not drawn much attention. Steven Nojo, executive director of the Biodegradable Products Institute, said studies show that the products are broken down by microbes that use it for food and that nothing in the process hurts the environment. Tests have also shown that people drinking from
biodegradable and compostable cups do not notice any difference in taste.
But Nojo said he did not know anything specifically about allergies or gluten or whether they would realistically pose any risk. “The best thing to do is to be as vigilant as possible,” he said. “If you know the utensils have wheat, ask for a stainless steel fork or spoon.”
Although wheat is not used in utensils very often, it is difficult to tell when it is because they rarely have ingredient labels. I could not find any studies on the actual amount of gluten in the products or the likelihood that any would be ingested.
Use of biodegradable utensils has been growing, particularly on college campuses going green.
From a practical standpoint, the danger from biodegradable utensils seems minimal since most are made from gluten- free starch and it’s unlikely you would consume any significant amount even from those made with wheat starch. But we are continuing to look into this question and will update you as we find out more.
Lately I have been hearing the words corn gluten being used in ads on TV. What is it and is it safe on the gluten free diet?
The most important thing to know is that corn gluten does not contain the protein harmful to those who have celiac disease. If you see corn gluten or gluten (corn) on a food label it is still safe on the gluten- free diet. How’s that for confusing! Gluten made from wheat has to say wheat on the label on all foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. If you ever happen to look at the label on regular bagels, for example, you will see that they include wheat gluten to give them that chewy texture.
Corn gluten, which refers to the protein in the corn, is not that common but it sometimes causes problems if you call a company and ask if a product is gluten free. A less knowledgeable consumer service representative might see corn gluten on a label and say it is not gluten free when it is. I have run into this with some foods, though not often.
What exactly is modified corn starch? I’ve read so many conflicting explanations I don’t know what to think.
Modified corn starch is an ingredient used in many foods. It is simply corn starch that has been altered by a chemical or enzyme to enable it to perform certain functions in food. For example, corn starch breaks down when heated, but modified corn starch used as a gelling agent better maintains texture in microwaved food. The FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations spells out what can be used to modify corn starch, as well as other starches, and none of the allowed substances contain gluten.
Modified corn starch sometimes appears on a label as plain “modified food starch.” In that case it is still gluten free. The only time you have to worry about modified food starch is when it is made from wheat. On foods regulated by the FDA, wheat has to be specified on the label so the label will say “modified wheat starch,” “modified food starch (wheat),” or wheat will be listed after the ingredients in a “contains” statement.
I am a dietitian at a university where we use a soup base that had been considered gluten free. Over the summer the ingredients changed and now autolyzed yeast extract from barley is being used. Is it still gluten free? Is it possible this ingredient might be safe in small amounts?
Autolyzed yeast from barley is pretty rare, but I did find one company, Bio Springer, that produces some. Soup is one place where you might find it, according to Jean- Marc Pernet, head of market development for Bio Springer. Pernet said the company does not use barley for traditional yeast extract but, in some very specific cases, may use a natural enzymatic blend obtained from barley malt extract.
Pernet noted that only a small amount of the malt extract is used in the process and only minimal traces of gluten remain in the final autolyzed yeast extract. In fact, the traces are so minimal the extract has a gluten- free certificate that shows it contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten— an amount that meets proposed FDA standards for gluten-free labeling.
In addition, the yeast extract is a natural flavoring compound which is used in very small amounts— usually less than one percent of the finished food. “There is no risk of finding any detectable traces of gluten (from yeast extract) in a soup,” Pernet said.
Can a three- year- old safely use stickers at pre- school? Is there any chance of gluten contamination?
Stickers used by children today are practically always self- adhesive— the peel and stick kind. I can’t see any reason why a child who has celiac disease could not use these stickers, even if they had wheat in the glue— which is highly unlikely.
The glue isn’t messy and does not get on fingers that a three- year- old might lick.
Years ago, when I was a child, we used to get books that came with stickers you licked and placed in pre- determined spots on the pages. But those have not been around for a long time. I don’t recall seeing them even when my children, now in their teens and twenties, were growing up. We always had a lot of stickers in the house for art projects and all of them were peel and stick.
RoseArt, one the biggest producers of craft items for children, does not make any lick ’em stickers, according to Wendy Hartling, a company spokesperson. And there is no wheat in any of the company’s adhesive stickers, she said. There are some sticker books on the market but these come with repositionable, peel and stick stickers.
If by some chance the child’s pre- school has found lickable stickers, it would be simple enough to send in press and seal stickers for the child to use or to have your child moisten them with a sponge. But it is very unlikely the glue contains any wheat. Research originally done by Gluten-Free Living has shown wheat is not used to make the glue in envelopes and postage stamps. And there is little chance it would be used for children's stickers.
In any school setting, the most important thing is to make arrangements that allow a child who follows the gluten- free diet to participate in all available activities. And it’s best when this is done matter- offactly, with a minimum of fuss.
I read in one of your previous issues about how beans are a healthy, naturally gluten- free food. But often the label on dried lentils and beans will say, “May contain soy and wheat.” I have found this on Wegmans and Goya brands. Is this because of the way beans are harvested or processed? I often rinse the beans, but does this remove any possible wheat?
This also leads me to be concerned about canned beans and lentils because I assume they originate in the same place as the dried beans? Does anyone produce specifically gluten- free beans or lentils?
You are right about beans and lentils being an important part of a healthy, gluten-free diet. They provide fiber, protein, antioxidants, and B Vitamins. Plus they are low in fat and calories.
Valerie Fox, a Wegmans spokesperson, said the store brand of beans and lentils have the “may contain” statement and are not labeled with the store’s gluten- free symbol because the supplier makes other products that could contain wheat and can’t guarantee against cross contamination. “Based on their manufacturing process, they will not support a gluten- free claim,” Fox said.
Wegmans canned beans and lentils are gluten free, Fox said, because the supplier only processes canned fruit and vegetables and there is no potential for cross-contamination.
Goya on its website lists its blue-labeled canned beans and peas as gluten free. Dried beans are gluten-free but “may be susceptible to cross-contamination,” the company says.
Anne R. Lee, RD, contributing editor for Gluten- Free Living and former nutritionist for the Columbia Celiac Disease Center, said you can find beans without the “may contain” warning. That includes Safeway and Arrowhead Mills brands, plus a number of private store brands.
But Lee said she does not worry too much even when the potential for cross contamination is noted because beans are usually minimally processed. To be on the safe side, she said, rinsing the beans well should eliminate any potential risks for gluten.
“May contain” statements like the ones found on dried beans can be confusing if you follow the gluten- free diet. They are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and are put on packages voluntarily by food companies. Some companies use them as legal protection while others are genuinely trying to communicate a potential risk to allergic consumers. They do not mean a food actually does contain the allergen or gluten, only that some possibility exists.
Is malt gluten free?
We wrote about malt flavoring recently but decided to revisit the question because it still seems to confuse many who follow the gluten-free diet. Malt is usually made from barley and is not gluten free. It can be made from corn, but that is rare.
Most malt comes from barley grain that has been soaked, germinated and dried. Ingredients made from malt include malt flavoring, malt syrup and malt extract, none of which are currently considered gluten free.
Malt flavoring is found in a wide variety of products. It is very common in cereals, including those that do not have any other gluten-containing ingredients. Still these cereals are not considered gluten free.
In fact, General Mills recently replaced the malt flavoring in Rice Chex with molasses in order to be able to label the cereal gluten free.
There have been some questions about ingredients made from malt and whether they might be considered gluten free if a proposed definition for the gluten-free label is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The proposed definition sets a standard of less than 20 parts per million for products labeled gluten free.
In the document outlining the proposed definition, the FDA pointed to a study that found cases where some foods, including breakfast cereal, made with malt extract contained less than 20 ppms. But there is also a study that found that the amount of gluten in malt syrup and malt extract ranged from 1,800 to 2,000 ppm.
The proposed definition would allow an ingredient made from wheat, barley, or rye that has been processed to remove gluten to be used in a product labeled gluten free if it does not cause the finished food to contain 20 ppm. If ingredients made from malt met that requirement, they could be used in a product labeled gluten free.
Joe Hickenbottom, vice president of sales and marketing for Malt Products Corp., said the malt extract and malt syrup made by the company is tested and has less than 20 ppm of gluten. He said gluten protein is removed during the processing.
Is brown rice syrup gluten free?
Brown rice syrup is a sweetener made by fermenting brown rice with enzymes to disintegrate the starch content, according to manufacturer AG Commodities Inc. Then the fermented liquid is strained and cooked until it becomes syrup.
The enzymes are the key to whether the brown rice syrup is gluten free. Barley enzymes, which are often used, make brown rice syrup that is not gluten free. However, if fungal enzymes are used, then the brown rice syrup is gluten free.
Several brands are labeled gluten free, including Lundberg Farms’ Sweet Dream, Nature’s Flavors’ organic brown rice syrup and Suzanne’s Specialties’ Genmai organic brown rice nectar. Lundberg Farms purposely switched from a cereal enzyme to a fungal enzyme to make their brown rice syrup gluten free.
You will sometimes see brown rice syrup listed as an ingredient in processed foods. If it’s used in a product that is labeled gluten free, like Erewhon brown rice cereal or Enjoy Life Foods’ Cocoa Loco snack bars, you can assume it is gluten free.
But if brown rice syrup is used in a mainstream product, it can be harder to tell. Some companies note the use of barley or barley malt in their brown rice syrup, but the allergen labeling law does not require them to. If you see brown rice syrup on a mainstream label, but the source is not listed, the only way to be sure is to check with the food maker.
Could you please send me a list of your gluten-free yogurts?
In general we do not provide lists of gluten-free products. Sometimes, as in the question about rice syrup, we might mention a few that are gluten-free but we have always stayed away from comprehensive lists.
First, products can change at any time and it’s possible that by the time we compile and print a list, it would be out of date. The best way to determine whether a product is gluten free is to learn about ingredients and go by the ingredient list on the package.
The second reason we don’t do lists is that they imply that every gluten-free brand is on them and that any that aren’t listed contain gluten. That can be misleading. It’s nearly impossible to list every single national and regional brand of a product.
But here is some general information about yogurt. Plain yogurt is gluten free and most flavored yogurt is gluten free. Some companies will only claim their plain yogurt is gluten free. That’s because they are concerned that the natural flavors might contain gluten.
But if the gluten was from wheat, it would have to be listed on the label according to the allergen labeling law. That law would not apply if it was barley. But even if barley is used to make the ethanol, the ethanol would be distilled. Everything we know about distillation indicates the flavoring would be gluten free.
Brown Cow and Stonyfield Farm yogurts are certified gluten free by the Gluten Intolerance Group. Fage yogurt is labeled gluten free. The companies that make Yoplait and Breyers have policies of always listing all sources of gluten on their labels. Dannon says only its plain yogurt is gluten free due to concerns about flavoring.
I recently noticed that Benefiber contains wheat dextrin.Yet the label states that there are less than 10 ppm gluten in the container. My husband has been using Benefiber for five years. Is wheat dextrin considered safe?
It may seem contradictory to find wheat dextrin as an ingredient in Benefiber when it is also labeled gluten free. But here is the reasoning behind the gluten-free claim.
The Benefiber website says the dextrin in Benefiber powder and caplets contains less than 10 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, an amount described as a “trace.” Currently in the US there is no law that governs how much gluten is allowed in a product labeled “gluten free.”
The Food and Drug Administration is working on a law that proposes to define “gluten free” as anything with less than 20 ppm of gluten. The law will cover packaged food and food supplements regulated by the FDA. Under that definition, Benefiber would be considered gluten free.
Benefiber only recently started using wheat dextrin instead of hydrolyzed guar gum. The change was made to increase the amount of fiber. For most of the five years your husband took Benefiber, it contained the guar gum, which is gluten free.
Benefiber did jump the gun a little in already labeling a product that contains wheat as being gluten free. Without any definition for gluten free, the general rule has always been that a product could not be gluten free if it listed wheat as an ingredient.
But the FDA said that since its proposed new rule with the 20 ppm cutoff has been made public, and since there are no federal regulations for gluten free, it would be unlikely to challenge a label like the one on Benefiber.
The FDA did caution manufacturers about labeling products ”gluten-free” and also stating that they contain some amount of gluten because the label would be confusing to consumers at this point.
Julie Masow, a spokesperson for Novartis, which makes Benefiber, noted the lack of federal regulations and said the label met an FDA standard of being truthful and not misleading.
She also said the wheat dextrin is not wheat but a starch derived from wheat.
I am extremely allergic to buckwheat. Can you tell me if US nutrition labeling guidelines require that buckwheat be included on food labels, regardless of the amount, and also if there are any other names under which it might be listed.
All food in the US has to be labeled to accurately reflect the ingredients it contains. So the label on a product that contains buckwheat should list buckwheat, buckwheat groats or kasha, another name for buckwheat.
Sometimes one ingredient is used to make another and it might be hard to know that by reading the label. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires that the top eight allergens always be listed on the label even when they are used to make another ingredient. Buckwheat is not one of the top eight allergens, but it is generally not used to make other ingredients, so you should not have to worry about that possibility too much.
Cliff Orr, vice president of Birkett Mills, the number one producer of buckwheat in the world, said he is not aware of any ingredients made from buckwheat or any cases where buckwheat would be in a product, but not on the label.
A very small amount of buckwheat that might be in a food due to cross contamination, however, would not have to be labeled. There are currently
no regulations that require labeling of ingredients that accidentally get into
food through cross-contamination. Some companies voluntarily label the potential for cross-contamination, but usually only for the top eight allergens. Also, food makers are expected to follow good manufacturing procedures to reduce cross-contamination as much as possible.
Buckwheat is gluten free and is safe for those who have celiac disease. An allergy to buckwheat, which is a fruit and can produce an allergic reaction similar to an allergy to strawberries, is a separate matter.
Orr said those who are allergic to buckwheat should realize that use of buckwheat is growing as food companies produce more multi-grain breads, cereals and snack foods, but buckwheat would be listed as an ingredient on the labels. In general, these products are not gluten free because they contain wheat, barley, rye or oats contaminated by wheat.
Is miso gluten free?
Miso, a Japanese condiment, is a fermented paste made from beans and grain.
The beans used include soybeans, chickpeas, and adzuki beans, all of which are gluten free. Grains used include rice, millet, amaranth and quinoa, which are gluten free and wheat, barley and rye, which are not.
You can sometimes tell if a miso contains gluten by its name. For example, mugi miso always contains barley and tsubi miso always contains wheat and barley. Some brands identify the bean or the grain in the name of the miso, for example barley miso or brown rice miso.
Eden Foods’ Gen Mi Brown Rice Miso and Shiro Miso do not contain any ingredients with gluten. South River Miso’s adzuki bean, chick pea, golden millet, garlic red pepper and hearty brown rice misos contain only glutenfree ingredients. The company notes that these flavors are made on the same equipment as the barley miso.
Miso is a main ingredient in miso soup. The soup would not be gluten free if the miso contains gluten. Edward & Sons has four flavors of instant miso soup that are GF: original golden vegetable, traditional with tofu, reduced sodium and Japanese restaurant style.
I’ve heard a rumor that there is gluten in envelope glue. Is it true?
It’s no wonder this rumor keeps resurfacing. If you do an Internet search on the gluten in the glue on envelopes, or the related question of whether there is gluten in the adhesive on US postage stamps, you will be convinced this is a real problem.
Web site after web site, story after story, and book after book about celiac disease, repeat the statement that gluten can be found in envelopes and stamps.
But it’s not true.
Tonya Muse, senior vice president of the Envelope Manufacturers Association, states that adhesives used on envelopes do not contain gluten.
There are actually only a few envelope glue manufacturers in the US. National Starch & Chemical, a New Jersey company, is one of the largest adhesive suppliers in the world. A company spokesperson says it makes its glue from corn, which is gluten free.
As for postage stamps, the US Postal Service points out that 98 to 99 percent of the stamps it now sells are pressure adhesive stamps. You peel them off a paper backing and press them onto your mail. No licking required for anyone, including celiacs. Even if you happen to get a stamp that needs to be licked, the adhesive on it is gluten free, says Roy Betts, a spokesman for the US Postal Service.
So relax and get that bill or letter in the mail.
Is vegetable broth gluten free?
The Food and Drug Administration has a specific definition of vegetable broth when it is used in canned tuna, but does not detail the exact ingredients in other cases. Vegetable broth in tuna has to be made from two or more of the following vegetables: beans, cabbage, celery, garlic, onions, parsley, peas, potatoes, green or red bell peppers, spinach or tomatoes. That means the broth used in canned tuna is gluten free, as is plain canned tuna. The beans used may include soy beans, in which case soy has to be noted on the label as required by the Food Allergen and Consumer Protection Act. While this has nothing to do with the gluten-free status of tuna, it might affect those who have soy allergies in addition to celiac disease.
In general, broth is defined as the liquid resulting from cooking vegetables, meat or fish in water. By that definition it would always be gluten free.
But canned vegetable broth can contain other ingredients as well. For example, Swanson’s Vegetarian Vegetable broth contains high fructose corn syrup, sugar and potato flour. The Swanson broth, as well as College Inn, Imagine Foods, and Pacific Foods brands are all gluten free. However, Swanson’s Organic Vegetarian Vegetable broth includes a yeast extract made with wheat.
Overall, vegetable broth is likely to be gluten free, more so than chicken or beef broth, which sometimes contain hydrolyzed wheat protein. But you have to read the ingredients label to be sure.
I am confused about the potential for gluten in orange juice. When I read the labels for orange juice with extra calcium, I don’t see any ingredients that would cause me to think there was gluten. Is there?
Orange juice is a product that is highly likely to be gluten free, even if it has calcium or vitamins added. But you might start to wonder when you see ingredients other than the juice from oranges.
First, plain pure orange juice, which is made strictly from oranges, is always gluten free. Not only that, it’s extremely healthy, providing all the Vitamin C an adult needs daily in an 8-ounce glass. It also has zero fat and provides thiamin, niacin, calcium, magnesium, folate and Vitamin B. And that’s without the addition of anything.
But we live in a health-conscious world and right now it’s popular to add a variety of “enhancements” to orange juice. Generally, these are vitamins or minerals and do not contain gluten.
Roy Crockett, director of communications for Coca Cola, says all the company’s Minute Maid, Hi-C and Simply Orange products are gluten free.
That includes its enhanced Minute Maid juices—Heartwise, with added plant sterols from highly refined oils to lower cholesterol; Multi-Vitamin, with ramped up amounts of vitamins; Active, with glucosamine to protect cartilage and joints; Extra Vitamin C& E, plus Zinc; Home Squeezed with Calcium and Vitamin D; and Original plus Calcium.
Tropicana, which is a PepsiCo company, is a little more difficult to figure out. In the past, the company has said that only its plain pure orange juice is gluten free. PepsiCo did not respond to requests for more updated information.
You will find some ingredients in the company’s specialty juices that you’d never expect to find in orange juice, including tilapia, sardine and anchovy in the mega 3 fish oil and gelatin in the Healthy Heart with Omega 3 brand. But those ingredients are gluten free.
The Orange Juice with Fiber has maltodextrin. Since it does not mention wheat on the label, it cannot be derived from wheat. But even if it was, it would be gluten free because maltodextrin is so highly processed no gluten protein remains.
Most of the other Tropicana orange juice flavors contain mostly vitamins and minerals. The Light and Healthy does list natural flavors, which the company previously said it could not guarantee were gluten free. Wheat is not listed on the label, so they would have to be made from barley or rye to cause a problem for those on the gluten-free diet.
The bottom line is that orange juice is highly likely to be gluten free. As with any food, always read the label to be sure. Plain, pure orange juice contains
only the juice from oranges, so you always know you are safe with it.
I love coffee of all kinds, but I am worried about drinking flavored coffee. I’ve heard that it’s not gluten free. Is that true?
For coffee lovers, even the thought of giving up any favorite brew can trigger fear of caffeine withdrawal symptoms. But you don’t have to worry. It’s hard to find a flavored coffee that is not gluten- free.
Coffee is flavored in two ways. Flavoring is either added to the beans after they are roasted but before they are ground, or it is added as syrup after the coffee has been brewed. Joseph Staffieri, founder of Flavor Development Corp., a New Jersey company that makes flavorings for coffee, said it would be unlikely to find gluten in a coffee flavoring since gluten containing ingredients are not part of the flavor-making process. In fact, his plant is completely gluten free and he has never used any gluten- containing ingredients.
Staffieri, who has worked in the flavor industry for more than 40 years and supplies flavors to coffee companies throughout the US and Canada, said it would not make sense for a coffee flavor maker to use gluten in a product. And even if a company did use a gluten- containing ingredient in a flavor, Staffieri said, the amount that would end up in the coffee would be so minute it would be untraceable.
He calculated that the amount of flavoring in a cup of coffee is about 1 part per million. That accounts for all the components of the flavor. Any theoretical gluten- containing ingredient would only be a small portion of that 1 ppm. Even if the flavoring was all gluten, at 1 ppm it would be well below 20 ppm, which is the amount the Food and Drug Administration has set as the standard for gluten- free food.
There’s a lot of speculation about gluten in coffee flavorings, but these are the facts.
Do I have to worry if my child, who has celiac disease, uses papier-mâché? I am worried about the possibility it will get in her mouth.
First of all, you do not have to worry about papier-mâché (which is usually made with wheat flour) causing a gluten reaction if your child gets it on her skin. The gluten protein that is harmful to those who have celiac disease is not absorbed through the skin. It has to be ingested to cause damage to the absorbing lining of the small intestine, according to doctors who are leading experts on celiac disease.
It would get into her mouth if she ate some or got some on her hand and then put her hand into her mouth. Personally, I can’t think of anything less appetizing to put in your mouth than the goopy mix of wheat flour paste and strips of paper that make up papier-mâché. It doesn’t even have the doughy texture and bright color that might cause some children to put play dough in their mouths.
But I understand your concern. If you are really worried about the possibility of the paste getting in her mouth, you can make gluten- free papiermâché in a variety of ways. One is to substitute gluten- free flour for wheat flour when making the paste. You can also thin out Elmer’s glue, which is gluten free, with water and use it instead of the flour paste. Or you can also use two cups of cornstarch, one cup of water and one cup of Elmer’s glue. A pre- made product, called Ross Art Paste, will also work.
To be honest, I didn’t worry about this when my daughter was young.
It just seemed like such a remote possibility. But you may disagree. Fortunately there are a few options.
Is pectin gluten free?
Pectin, most commonly used in jams and jellies, is a natural gelling agent found in fruit. Apples and citrus peel are often used to make pectin, according to the International Pectin Producers Association. It is gluten free.
You might also find it on the label of yogurt and drinks made with milk, where it works as a stabilizer.
Is polysorbate 80 gluten free?
Polysorbate 80 is a food additive described in the Food and Drug Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations as an ingredient manufactured when oleic acid reacts with sorbitol. It is used as an emulsifier in ice cream and other frozen desserts to help them have a firmer texture and retain shape as they be - gin to melt, and as an inactive ingredient in prescription drugs.
Sorbitol is a slow- metabolizing sugar alcohol that most often comes from corn, fruit or seaweed. Oleic acid is a colorless oily liquid that is the major fatty acid in olive oil and canola oil. So polysorbate 80 is gluten free.
Are pickles gluten free?
A pickle is a cucumber that has been soaked in a briny solution to make it sour. My mother used to make the crunchiest pickles in a crock that sat in a corner of our kitchen when I was a kid.
That kind of homemade pickle and the kind you buy in a jar at the grocery are gluten free. Pickles are sometimes questioned because they are made with vinegar and the safety of vinegar has been questioned in the past.
But the vinegar is distilled and is gluten free so the pickles are too. Heinz and Vlasic brands specifically say their pickles are gluten free on their web sites.
What is wild rice and is it gluten free?
Wild rice is the grain of an aquatic grass native to North America, according to the USA Rice Federation. It grows naturally in water two to four feet deep along the margins of ponds or lakes in the Northern United States and Southern Canada.
Much of it is grown in Minnesota, which adopted wild rice as its official state grain. It is also grown commercially in flooded fields, called paddies, mainly in California.
Wild rice is dark, nutritious and naturally gluten free. It is often combined with white rice to create the popular long grain and wild rice mix. Unfortunately, ingredients that contain gluten are often added to these mixes. Hydrolyzed wheat protein and soy sauce made from wheat are commonly used to flavor wild rice mixes.
But you can find some brands that are gluten free. Zatarain’s New Orleans style Long Grain and Wild Rice contains soy sauce that is made from 100 percent soy beans. The mix does not contain wheat in any other ingredient. Near East brand Original Long Grain and Wild Rice does not contain any soy sauce or wheat. Read the label on private store brands to see if they are gluten free. The Giant store- brand Long Grain and Wild Rice sold at my local grocery is also gluten free.
I just noticed that Frito-Lay Barbecue Potato Chips now list barley flour in the ingredients. What is this? I assume it is not gluten free.
The Frito-Lay chips you mention use barley flour as a component of a natural flavor. When used as a component of another ingredient, barley flour does not have to appear on the label, according to the Food and Drug Administration. FritoLay voluntarily lists it because the company has a policy of always clearly labeling wheat, rye, barley and oats.
Under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act the top eight allergens have to be listed when they are included in a flavoring, but barley is not in the top eight. You may be more familiar with barley malt, which also does not have to be labeled. You have to avoid both barley flour and barley malt on the gluten- free diet. Barley malt can also be labeled simply as malt, which should also be avoided.
Frito-Lay recently updated its glutenfree and gluten- free/casein- free lists, which are available at fritolay.com. Some flavors that were previously listed as not containing gluten are no longer on the list due to the addition of barley flavoring. But some products have also been added to the gluten- free list. Frito-Lay notes that all but one product on its gluten- free list are produced on the same lines as products that contain gluten. Lay’s Stax chips, which are gluten free, are the only product made on dedicated gluten- free lines.
Barley flour is made by milling, or grinding, whole grain barley into flour. You might not have noticed it, but barley flour is often used as part of wheat flour in bread.
Unlike when it is a component of a natural flavor, barley flour used directly in any food has to be labeled as “barley flour,” according to Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA Office of Public Affairs representative. That means a food maker could
not use barley flour and say only “flour” in the ingredients list.
You might also see malted barley flour, which is made by allowing whole grain barley to sprout, rapidly drying it and grinding it into flour. Used directly in a food, it would also have to be labeled.
I am trying to find out whether licorice root is gluten free (i.e. licorice root tea). I know licorice is not, but I am not sure if it is the plant itself or the way in which licorice is made that adds gluten.
Licorice root comes from the root of the licorice plant and does not contain gluten. Herbal tea that contains licorice root is gluten free as long it has no other gluten- containing ingredients. Some herbal teas contain barley. When they do, barley or barley malt is usually listed on the ingredients label.
The candy, licorice, is made using wheat flour and that’s why it is not gluten free. However, some licorice candy does not even contain the licorice extract that comes from the licorice root. The licorice flavor comes from anise.
Hydrolyzed wheat protein is listed in the ingredients of Sally Hansen’s nail strengthener. Does that mean this nail product is not usable since this is not a gluten-free ingredient?
You are right, hydrolyzed wheat protein is not gluten free. But since you do
not eat the nail strengthener you can go ahead and use it. Medical experts say gluten protein is too large a molecule to be absorbed through the skin and the same is true of your fingernails. Fingernails are made of a tough protein, called keratin. Only the part of the nail that is under the skin at the base of the nail is living tissue.
If you bite your nails, there is a possibility you could swallow some of the nail strengthener. The amount of gluten you would consume would probably be very small. Still, Alessio Fasano, MD, director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, recommends not using the nail strengthener if you bite your nails. And if worry over this is going to make you bite your nails even more, find a nail strengthener that does not contain hydrolyzed wheat protein.
I just saw that Organic Valley does not include its cottage cheese in the company’s gluten- free list. I thought cottage cheese was gluten free?
Many brands of cottage cheese are gluten free. In the past, some gluten- free consumers worried about use of modified food starch in cottage cheese, but current allergen labeling laws would require any modified food starch made from wheat to say so on the label. You won’t see it very often, if at all, in
But it’s not modified food starch that keeps cottage cheese off the gluten- free list at Organic Valley. It is barley. The company says one of its suppliers has said “a barley source is used as the fermentation nutrient in one of our cultures.”
The company’s research and development department says the barley should be “used up” during the manufacturing process. But Organic Valley does not test for gluten and says it can not definitely say there is no gluten in the final product.
Some ingredients made from barley, including enzymes, can test at low enough levels that a food in which they were used would be gluten free.
Meanwhile, you can find a number of brands of cottage cheese that are gluten free, including, but not limited to Daisy, Breakstone and Knudsen and a wide variety of store brands.
Is wheat syrup gluten free? I bought Hero Jam and noticed wheat syrup on label. Do I have to throw it out?
I checked with the company and the wheat syrup is wheat glucose syrup. Here is what our investigation of wheat glucose syrup has found:
Glucose syrup is a gluten- free sweetener made most frequently from corn, but also from tapioca, potato, and sorghum or wheat starch. It is such a highly processed and purified ingredient that the source of the starch does not matter. Even if you see glucose syrup derived from wheat on a label, it is still gluten free.
Although GFL did the original reporting on glucose syrup, celiac support groups and other gluten- free experts agree that it is gluten free. You don’t have to toss the jam!
Can a product truly be gluten- free if it is made in a factory that also produces wheat products, etc?
This is an interesting question and to a certain degree the answer will always include some opinion. Food companies that make their gluten- free products in dedicated plants where no gluten containing products are made sometimes argue that this is the only way to guarantee that a food is gluten free.
Companies that use dedicated equipment in plants where products that contain gluten are also made maintain they can produce gluten- free products. A dedicated machine would only be used for gluten- free foods so the possibility of cross-contamination from glutencontaining foods on the same line would not be an issue.
Companies that share equipment between gluten- free and glutencontaining products say good manu - facturing practices, including thorough cleaning of equipment between runs, results in products that are gluten free.
To some extent it is up to you to decide what production system makes you most comfortable. But there are a few other things to consider.
For example, a company that uses a dedicated plant might not verify that all of its ingredients are gluten free. Meanwhile, a company that uses only dedicated equipment might verify that its ingredients are gluten free. Which product would be safer? It’s hard to know the answer.
You can look at results of tests for gluten to determine if a product is acceptable on your gluten- free diet. If a company tests regularly using tests that are accepted by experts you can feel pretty comfortable with their gluten- free claim. Another plus would be the use of outside laboratories to verify the results.
In fact, this is how the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed definition of gluten free on a label calls for verification of the gluten- free status of a food. If tests show a food contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten, it can be labeled gluten free under the proposed law. Now testing is voluntary, but once the proposal becomes law any food labeled gluten free will have to be tested.
Until that happens, getting information on testing can be tricky. Some companies put testing details on their labels. Others post it on their websites. The only way to get testing information from some companies is to call them.
It might also be unclear what kind of tests are being used, but most specialty gluten- free companies are helpful and want you to know about the steps they take to make sure their products are safe. More mainstream companies are also using gluten- free labels and many of them are also testing their glutenfree food.
The bottom line is that you have to decide what food processing factors are important to you when you purchase gluten- free items. The FDA’s proposed rules for use of the gluten free label do not require a company to use dedicated facilities or machinery so this will not change even when the rules are finalized. But the addition of a standard that all companies will have to meet should make gluten- free consumers feel more confident about the products they purchase.
I have heard that barley and wheat grass are safe to eat on the gluten-free diet. I find this hard to believe. Is it true?
The Gluten Intolerance Group, a national celiac disease support organization, has researched the gluten-free status of barley and wheat grass. Here is what they have concluded: US Department of Agriculture research chemists who specialize in wheat gluten and cereal proteins say gluten is only found in the seed kernel, the endosperm, and not in the stem and leaves. The American Association of Cereal Chemists agrees, according to a statement by the group.
If the grass is cut from a growing plant and does not include the seed kernel, it should be safe for those who follow the gluten- free diet.
But Cynthia Kupper, RD, executive director of GIG, also points out that if you are eating these grasses as sources of added nutrition, you would do better to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, which she says are overall healthier and less expensive.
Summer is almost here and my child who was just diagnosed with celiac disease is already asking for freezer pops. Are they safe? I see the ingredients include natural flavors so I was not sure.
Children who follow the gluten- free diet don’t have to give up that age- old pleasure of sucking cold freezer pops on a hot day. Most brands are made mainly from water and sweetener and are gluten free. Many contain high fructose corn syrup and some have a little juice thrown in. While you could debate the value of allowing these from a health perspective, it’s hard to challenge the enjoyment kids (and some adults) get from these treats.
If a freezer pop contained wheat in the natural flavors, it would have to be listed in the ingredients under US allergen labeling law. The law does not require the labeling of barley, but most companies list it as malt flavoring, which you should avoid.
One caution though. For reasons hard to explain, no one seems to be able to eat just one freezer pop so that big box you bought probably won’t last long.
Movie theater popcorn is one of my guilty pleasures. I have always assumed it is gluten free but wanted to know for sure. I hope I can continue to enjoy this treat when I go to the movies.
It’s hard to resist the smell and taste of movie theater popcorn. The popcorn kernels themselves are, of course, gluten free. The oil and flavoring used to give them that unique movie taste were also gluten free in every case we checked.
All Flavacol brand popcorn, oil and butter flavoring produced by Gold Medal Products, a major supplier to movie theaters, is gluten free. Todd Sunderhaus, flavor technologist for Gold Medal, said the company’s manufacturing facility is gluten free and that all ingredients are checked for allergens. When it comes to gluten, the company has a zero tolerance policy, Sunderhaus said.
Gold Medal does sell some products that contain wheat, including funnel cake and waffle cone mixes, but they are made by outside companies and stored in a separate room in the company’s warehouse.
“All the popcorn is gluten free,” Sunderhaus said. “There is no issue or question about that.”
Several major movie theater chains also confirmed that their popcorn is gluten free. Regal Cinemas, the largest movie theater chain in the US, also sells pop corn with butter topping that is gluten free, according to marketing manager Richard Grover. Regal has 552 theaters in 39 states and Washington, D.C.
The butter topping at all 350 AMC theaters in 30 states and Washington is gluten free, according to Sun Dee Larson, director of external communications.
Likewise, the popcorn in all Cinemark theaters is gluten free, said James Meredith, vice president of marketing and communications. Cinemark has 289 theaters in 38 states.
If the economy has you planning to watch more movies at home, you’ll be happy to know that most microwave popcorn is gluten free. Read the label to be sure.
If you really want to save money, you can buy regular popcorn kernels in a plastic bag for a fraction of the cost of prepackaged microwave popcorn.
You can use the kernels to make homemade microwave popcorn simply by putting a quarter cup of popcorn and salt or other seasoning to taste in a plain brown lunch bag. Add 1 teaspoon of olive or vegetable oil. Fold the top of the bag over and staple it twice (No, the staple will not ignite in the microwave. You can also fold the top of the bag over twice and skip the staples.) Gently shake the bag and lay it down in the micro - wave. Set the time from two to three minutes depending on your microwave, but stay there and remove the popcorn when there are three to five seconds between pops.
Some recipes for homemade micro - wave popcorn omit the oil, which would cut the fat content, but might also affect the taste.
You can also make popcorn the oldfashioned way. Pour just a bit of oil into the bottom of a pot, add some popcorn kernels, put the lid on the pot and turn the heat to medium high. Shake the pan when it starts popping or the popcorn will scorch and burn. Stay near the stove. Turn off the burner when there are three to five seconds between pops and leave the top on for a minute or two so the kernels settle.
If you are feeling a bit nostalgic try Jiffy Pop—it’s gluten free. This is the brand that comes complete with oil and kernels already in an aluminum pan. I remember my parents making it on the stove when I was a kid and it seemed like sheer magic when the popcorn would bubble up into a big silver ball.
I want to try to try new things on my gluten-free diet so I thought I might try hummus, but I don’t really know what it is or what brands are gluten free. Can you tell me?
Hummus is a Middle Eastern spread made from mashed chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. All ingredients are gluten free, including tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds.
Read the label on any packaged hummus and you will usually find it is gluten free. For example, Tribe, Fantastic Foods, Sabra and Athenos brands are gluten free. There are also numerous easy recipes for making homemade hummus, which is said to taste better than packaged products.
In general, the cracker or bread used to dip in hummus is a bigger problem for those who follow the gluten-free diet. At a party or in a restaurant, you will likely find hummus served with pita, flat Middle Eastern bread made with wheat. Once pita or another cracker or bread made from wheat is dipped in the hummus, it gets cross-contaminated.
But you can safely dip cut vegetables or gluten-free crackers in hummus to enjoy a safe and relatively healthy snack. If you take hummus to a party, bring something gluten-free to dip.
I just read a newspaper story where a doctor said that ketchup and mustard could contain gluten. What ingredient in these condiments would contain gluten?
We saw that story too and were troubled by all the undue worry it would cause when we know ketchup and mustard are nearly always gluten free. Coleman’s prepared mustard and Nance's honey mustard contain wheat flour, but that is rare.
Otherwise, the only thing we can think is that the doctor quoted in the story was depending on old information that put ketchup and mustard in the questionable category because they contain vinegar.
More than 10 years ago, we used our journalism training to investigate vinegar. We found that there was no good reason to think distilled vinegar might contain gluten. It was and always has been gluten free. We have repeated this information frequently but distilled vinegar continues to be questioned and unnecessarily avoided by some people who follow a gluten-free diet. Distilled vinegar is in a lot of products and worrying about it makes following the diet a lot harder than it needs to be.
Basically ketchup is made from tomato paste or concentrate, corn syrup, distilled vinegar, salt and spices.
Most mustard is made from mustard seed, distilled vinegar, spices like turmeric, salt, paprika, and garlic, and natural flavor. Dijon mustard also contains white wine.
You might also wonder about mustard flour. It’s the name for ground mustard seed and it does not contain wheat.
My older daughter and I (both diagnosed 15 years ago) were watching a cooking show when we learned that mushrooms are grown from fungi which has been started on wheat grain. A grower from Kennett Square, PA, the largest mushroom-growing region in the US, said that their “spawn” was based on wheat grain. Is there anything to worry about?
We’re not sure what show you saw, but this question was also raised by readers who saw an episode of “How It’s Made,” in which mushrooms were grown in mushroom mycelium put atop wheat berries.
Here’s a basic explanation of how white mushrooms are grown, from the Mushroom Council:
Mushrooms grow from microscopic spores, not seeds. Spores are used to inoculate grains or seeds to produce a product called spawn (the mushroom farmer’s equivalent of seed). Spawn is made by sterilizing a mixture of rye, wheat, millet or other grain plus water and chalk.
Mushrooms must get all their nutrients from organic matter in their growing medium, which is called compost and is scientifically formulated of materials such as straw, corn cobs, cotton seed and cocoa seed hulls, gypsum and nitrogen supplements. The compost is pasteurized and spawn is worked into the compost.
In two to three weeks, the compost becomes filled with the root structure of the mushroom, a network of lacy white filaments called mycelium. At that point, a layer of pasteurized peat moss is spread over the compost.
Eventually, tiny white protrusions form on the mycelium and push up through the peat moss. Eventually they become mushroom caps, which are actually the fruit of the plant, just as a tomato is the fruit of a tomato plant.
In addition to the Mushroom Council, we talked to experts at a spawn company, the Mushroom Research Center at Pennsylvania State University, and a Penn State food scientist who specializes in mushrooms. All agreed that it is highly unlikely that mushroom growing practices would result in mushrooms being cross-contaminated.
Although cross-contamination of mushrooms by glutencontaining grains in spawn has not been studied, researchers have looked into allergen contamination of mushrooms by peanuts and soy. One study concluded that supplements/fertilizers made from peanut and soy proteins introduced to the mushroom crop at the same time as the spawn did not cross-contaminate the mushrooms.
My wife and I go out for ice cream at Baskin- Robbins once a week. They have gluten-free flavors and rinse their scoops between each scoop. Is this sufficient to get a gluten- free scoop of ice cream?
We all know how important it is to use clean utensils when dipping into any container of gluten- free food. So it comes down to how clean the scoop is when it goes into the gluten- free flavor you have selected. Personally, I would feel safe if
the scoop was rinsed. Ice cream itself is almost always gluten free. Usually, the part that contains gluten is a candy, cookie or other baked good used as a mix in. Rinsing is most likely to remove a chunk of any of these and even small crumbs would most likely be washed away. If you have doubts, you could nicely ask if the scoop could be double rinsed. You will find a list of ingredients for all flavors of Baskin- Robbins ice cream on the company’s website, baskinrobbins.com. An allergen chart is included with each flavor and wheat is checked when it is an ingredient in the ice cream. You can also call (800) 859–5339.
I read in your last issue that we should eat 48 grams of whole grain each day. How do you know what constitutes a serving of whole grain? Do you have any guidelines that would help me calculate how much whole grain various foods contain?
If the Whole Grain Stamp appears on a package, the stamp will tell you how many grams of whole grains you get in one serving. But what if there is no stamp? We turned to Kara Berrini, program manager for the Whole Grains Council, for an answer to this question. Here’s her great answer, tailored specifically for the gluten- free diet, combined with some information from the Whole Grains Council website:
“You can’t always calculate the number of grams of whole grains if the Whole Grain Stamp isn’t present. This conundrum is exactly why the Whole Grains Council created the Whole Grain Stamp.
That being said, there are a few times when you can figure out exactly how many grams of whole grains you’re getting in the whole grain food you eat, such as a bowl of gluten- free oats, or a batch of amaranth, or a pot of brown rice risotto. When it comes to singleingredient products or products where all the ingredients are whole grain, it’s very easy to calculate the grams of whole grains you’re going to be eating: Just look at the serving size on the nutrition facts panel, l then divide by the number of servings when you’re done cooking.
For example, if you’re making some brown rice to go with dinner, a serving size of dry brown rice is about 1 /4 cup or 42g, and this makes 3 /4 cup brown rice when cooked. If you plan to serve two people with that amount, you’d simply divide 42g by 2 and you’d know that each of you will consume 21g of whole grains with your dinner.
But what if you’re looking at a loaf of gluten- free, whole-grain bread or popcorn cakes? This is when things get trickier, and unfortunately, there’s no real solid way to know how many grams of whole grains you’re getting. Unless the manufacturer announces how many grams of whole grains are in each serving, whether by using the Whole Grain Stamp or by calling this fact out somewhere on their package design, it’s just too tough to try to guess.
First, check the package label. Many whole- grain products not yet using the Stamp will list the grams of whole grains somewhere on the package, or say something like “100% whole wheat.” You can trust these statements. But be skeptical if you see the words “whole grain” without more details, such as “crackers made with whole grain.” The product may contain only minuscule amounts of whole grains.
Second, check the ingredient list and see how close to the beginning of the list you find whole- grain ingredients. Here is a sample of some terms that indicate whole grains are being used: whole (name of grain), stoneground whole (name of grain), brown rice, and oats. The term multi- grain may describe several whole grains or several refined grains or a mix of both.
If the first ingredient listed contains the word “whole” it is likely—but not guaranteed—that the product is predominantly whole grain. If there are two grain ingredients and only the second ingredient listed is a whole grain, the product may contain as little as 1% or as much as 49% whole grain (in other words, it could contain a little bit of whole grain, or nearly half).
More information on whole grains is available at wholegrainscouncil.org
I enjoyed your story about gluten in alcoholic drinks. I wondered if Arbor Mist is gluten free.
Arbor Mist is wine blended with natural flavors. Alcoholic drinks do not have to have ingredient lists so we contacted Arbor Mist Winery. Here’s what the company said about its wines: “We do not test our products for gluten. However, to our knowledge, they do not contain it. Where one’s health is of a concern, we always recommend that you consult with your physician.”
The fact that a company does not test for gluten does not automatically mean gluten is present in a product. You have to decide for yourself whether you want to consume products that have little potential for gluten but no guarantee. To us it appears Arbor Mist products are highly likely to be gluten free since wine is gluten free and flavors are almost always gluten free. (See “Cheers, Selection of Alcoholic GF Drinks Grows” in Gluten- Free Living, Number 2, 2010)
You say that Mr & Mrs T’s Bloody Mary Mix is not GF. I have carefully looked at the ingredients listed on the label and find nothing that would make me suspicious of it having gluten. What am I missing?
A representative of The Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which makes Mr & Mrs T’s Bloody Mary mixes, said the company does not add any gluten-containing ingredients to the Original Bloody Mary Mix. But the company does not claim the mix is gluten free because it could be cross- contaminated in the plant where it is made. The Premium Blend Bloody Mary Mix contains flavors made with wheat. Wheat is included in the ingredients statement on the bottle.
I have been hearing about the Japanese drink shochu. What is it and is it gluten free?
Shochu is a traditional Japanese drink distilled from starches including rice, sweet potato, sugar cane, soba and barley. Since it is a distilled alcohol, it would be gluten free no matter what starch it is made from.
Some shochu is infused with flavor so you have to make sure the addition of flavoring does not add any gluten to the alcohol. In general, alcohol flavors do not contain gluten but it is possible a malt flavor made from barley might be used.
According to an article in Restaurant News, shochu is about 25 percent alcohol, making it stronger than wine but not as strong as vodka, gin, and rum. With a neutral taste most similar to vodka, it is said to mix well with fruit juices, leading to its popularity in specialty cocktails.
In recent years, shochu has passed sake as the drink of choice in Japan and it is being served more often in Japanese restaurants in U.S. cities. It complements grilled meats and fish, tempura, sashimi and noodles.
I am grateful that your magazine is available. I am not yet officially diagnosed, but may need to follow a gluten- free diet. Right now I have a question about soft drinks. Are regular ginger ale, Coke and Pepsi gluten free? What about other soft drinks or sodas in general? Thank you for any guidance you can provide.
Most sodas are gluten free. The ingredient that raises questions most often is the caramel color. Although caramel color can be made from barley, it is most often made from corn.
The Pepsi- Cola Company said there is no gluten in any carbonated soft drink produced by the company in North America.
The caramel color used in Pepsi beverages is not derived from wheat, oats, barley, rye, spelt or triticale, the company said.
Diana Garza Ciarlante, a spokeswoman for the Coca- Cola Company, said
the caramel color used in Coke products is derived from either corn or cane sugar. If an ingredient contains wheat, barley or rye it is labeled as such in the ingredient statement. Consumers can also check the gluten- free status of Coke products by calling the 1–800 number on the product’s package.
A list provided by Ciarlante included, but is not limited to, the following sodas: Barq’s root beer (regular, diet, caffeine free, and diet red crème), Coke (regular, diet, diet plus, caffeine free diet, diet sweetened with Splenda, diet with lime, cherry, diet cherry, cherry zero, diet, vanilla, vanilla zero), CocaCola (regular, caffeine free classic and zero), and Sprite (regular, diet zero). Coke makes a number of fruit drinks, teas, bottled waters and other drinks that are also gluten free.
I was teaching my 12- year- old daughter how to read labels. She asked whether she should eat things that say “natural flavorings.” I told her that if there is an allergy warning and wheat is not listed, then the natural flavorings are fine, but otherwise she shouldn’t. What do you think?
If a natural flavoring contains wheat, the label has to say so. It could be in the kind of allergen warning you mention, which would say “Contains Wheat” after the ingredients list. Wheat could also be noted right in the ingredients list as “natural flavoring (wheat).”
But natural flavoring rarely contains wheat. Flavoring manufacturers, including both natural and artificial, have told us that wheat is rarely used to make a flavoring because it does not work very well. We have been checking ingredients lists on food labels for wheat in a flavoring ever since the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act was passed. It requires that wheat be labeled regardless of how it is used in all products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
We have seen very few cases where wheat is used. Edy’s French Silk ice cream is one of the rare products that contains natural flavoring made from wheat, and wheat is indicated on the label. So, since wheat is rarely used in flavorings and when it is, processors have been following the labeling law, your instructions for your daughter are fair and safe as far as wheat is concerned.
That would leave flavorings made from barley (rye and oats would rarely if ever be used). The allergen labeling law does not require barley to be listed as the source of a flavoring because barley is not one of the top eight allergens. In most cases a flavoring made from barley will be called malt flavoring or barley malt or barley malt flavoring. In general your daughter should avoid malt flavoring. (Malt flavoring can be made from corn and would be safe, but it is more commonly made from barley.)
So you have to decide if your daughter should avoid flavors on the very small chance one might be made from barley that’s not spelled out on the label. She would be avoiding a lot of foods that are actually safe. As always, it’s your call. But you do ask what we think and the answer seems to us that the risk is so small, it’s not worth worrying about.
I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease after struggling with health issues for years. What a blessed relief to know. My husband and I have fallen in love with Stonyfield Greek yogurt — Oikos — is it gluten free? I am not sure because it is not certified gluten free like some other Stonyfield yogurts.
Here’s what Stonyfield says about its Greek yogurt.
All of our yogurts, smoothies, and soy- yogurts— except for our YoBaby Plus Fruit & Cereal, YoKids Squeezers, Oikos Greek Yogurt, and frozen yogurt— are certified gluten- free by the Gluten- Free Certification Organization (GFCO). And we’re in the process of getting our other products certified too.
We didn’t change these yogurts, smoothies, and soy- yogurts to make them gluten- free. They already were gluten- free. The only change is that we’ve completed the certification process administered by the GFCO and can now officially say “gluten- free” and print the GFCO symbol on our packages.
They are not saying the Greek yogurt is not gluten free, just that they have not yet completed the steps to receive certification. And they note that the other kinds of yogurts did not require any changes because they were always gluten free, even before being certified. That’s most likely the story for the Greek yogurt too. So you can wait for the certification or take what would appear to be a very insignificant risk and enjoy the yogurt now.
This brings up an important point about certification. The certification seal from GFCO or the Celiac Sprue Association gives you extra assurance that a product meets those organizations’ standards for gluten free.
But many products that do not have a certification seal are still gluten free. Some have a “gluten free” label. For others, you have to read the ingredients list to be sure the food does not contain any wheat, barley, or rye.
I can not tolerate xanthan or guar gum and I am having problems making gluten- free bread. I wondered if you had any other advice for someone who can’t use these ingredients. Thanks for you help.
We asked Carol Fenster, author of 1,000 Gluten- Free Recipes and president and founder of Savory Palate, Inc., what ingredients might be substituted for xanthan or guar gum. Here’s what she said:
Unfortunately, our gluten- free yeast bread, especially the 9x5-inch size loaf, is much better with gums. The gums provide a cell structure, replacing the function of gluten, in which the carbon dioxide can expand to make the bread rise.
You could try making popovers, which can successfully be made without gums since they are bound by lots of eggs. Pull out the soft interior and stuff the popovers with sandwich filling.
Also, try Focaccia, which is a flatbread and doesn’t have to rise very much to be successful—but be sure to use eggs. A teaspoon of unflavored gelatin mixed in with the dry ingredients might provide some structure, but won’t be as successful as gums.
Or, try spreading the Focaccia dough over a 13x9-inch nonstick pan to make a very thin flatbread that can be simply torn and dipped in oil. It is supposed to be very thin and the crumbliness that results from omitting the gums won’t be as noticeable.
In one of your recent issues, I read the answer to the plate question, “Are pickles gluten free?” It said that the vinegar is distilled and is gluten free. In products which contain vinegar, it never states on the label whether the vinegar is made from grain or fruit (except if the product is just plain vinegar), so are you saying that even vinegar specifically made from wheat is “safe” to consume?
If your answer is no, then how can label- reading celiacs know the origin of the vinegar?
Your letter makes it clear there is still a lot of confusion about vinegar. Distillation is a process that effectively removes the gluten protein even if wheat is used. Consequently, distilled vinegar made from wheat is gluten free.
How ever, most vinegar is not made from wheat. Apple, corn, grape and rice sugars are the most frequently used sources. The bottom line is that all distilled vinegars are safe on the gluten- free diet so you don’t have to worry about the source being listed on the label.
What are the facts regarding vanilla and vanilla extract? I’ve read that because they are alcohol- based they contain gluten.
That’s old and unfounded information. Distilled alcohol, like distilled vinegar, is gluten free. So vanilla and vanilla extract are gluten free.
In your list of allowed ingredients, modified food starch is listed as allowed if it’s not made from wheat and, according to you, the label will state if it is. I blinked a few times, scoffed, and then decided to trust the advice. I bought a can of Campbell’s bean with bacon soup, which lists modified food starch, but no wheat.
So I ate it. That was a mistake. I have a headache and my gut is feeling achy. I think it might be advisable to modify (heh) the advice, giving it only a cautious nod, because Campbell’s doesn’t mention allergens on their labels, neither does Heinz ketchup or KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce. I’m going to go back to giving a wide berth to products with the ambiguous modified food starch listing. It’s just not worth it.
Like every other food company regulated by the FDA, Campbell’s is required to list the top eight allergens, including wheat, on its food labels. So if they use modified wheat starch, the label has to say either “modified wheat starch” or “modified food starch” as well as the phrase “contains wheat” at the end of the ingredients list. There is nothing ambiguous about it and no evidence that any companies are skirting the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which has been in effect since January 2006. If wheat is in a product, its presence will be noted on the label.
From the labeled ingredients, the soup appears to be gluten free. The last few ingredients on the list are “less than two percent of modified food starch, salt, sugar, onion powder, monosodium glutamate, yeast extract, natural smoke flavoring.” That wording is a bit ambiguous in terms of the two percent, but we read it as two percent of all those ingredients together not two percent each. Either way, it’s not modified wheat starch.
However, Campbell’s does not include the bean with bacon soup on its new gluten- free product list (U.S.
). Broths are the only soups on the list. On its website Campbell’s says it is testing all finished products. That means those with gluten-free ingredients could be left off the list due to cross-contamination. We contacted Campbell’s to find out why they do not consider the bean with bacon soup gluten free but did not get a response.
It’s also a mistake to blame symptoms on gluten when they could be caused by any number of things. You might have consumed something a bit “off” with the soup or have a stomach bug or allergies . . . the list could go on. There’s a lot going on that surrounds the food industry and has nothing to do with gluten as well as illnesses and germs and sometimes it’s just too wearisome to think about. Our chances of ever getting to the bottom of some of these headachy experiences are slim.
But one thing you can be sure of is wheat labeling— or lack of same. If you see wheat on a food label, the product contains wheat. If you don’t, the product does not contain wheat. It may not be gluten free or contaminant free, but it does not contain wheat.