Barley Flour

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 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.

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