We can’t say outright that cold cuts are gluten free, but we have reviewed numerous lunch meat labels and found very few with any ingredients with the potential to contain gluten. The other complication is that meats are regulated by the USDA and are not required to follow Food and Drug Administration allergen or gluten-free labeling laws. Plain meats are gluten free, but lunch meats can contain other ingredients so they don’t fall into that category. Despite not being required to follow allergen labeling laws, the USDA says about 90 percent of companies do so voluntarily, calling out wheat when it’s used.
But like all foods, you have to know what’s in lunch meat — not always an easy a task at the deli counter. Fortunately, the growth of the gluten-free market has caused lunch meat makers to realize their products are already gluten free and label them as such.
Thumann’s is certified by the GIG. Boar’s Head has 500 gluten-free meats, cheeses and condiments. Esskay, Applegate Farms, Carl Buddig and Kroger products are gluten free. Hormel, which also makes Jennie-O Turkey store meats, has a long list of gluten-free products. In case you think only higher-end grocery stores sell gluten-free lunch meats, Di Lusso Deli products, sold in Wal-Mart grocery stores, are also gluten free and BJ’s Wellshire Farms brand includes many gluten-free options. When we researched deli meats, we found that whole lines of products were gluten free. Two Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh products that did contain gluten have been discontinued. All Kunzler products except Ham Loaf and Macaroni and Cheese Loaf are gluten free.