Label Reading: Learn to Spot 8 Sneaky Instances of Gluten - Performance Kitchen

What is gluten?

We now hear the term gluten often, but many people do not even know what it means. Jimmy Kimmel took to the streets and asked pedestrians what gluten is. The answers were all over the charts.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is,

…a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale–a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.

There are many food items that may contain gluten, often in hidden or unexpected ways. In order for a package to contain the label “gluten free,” it must meet the FDA guidelines of containing less than 20 parts per million.

This is where things can get tricky. While the gluten-free stamp of approval is a great resource, it is always important to use a detective eye to look out for hidden or unexpected sources of gluten by reading the product’s ingredient list and where it was manufactured.

Be mindful of these 8 ingredients and foods that may have a hidden source of gluten.

Soy Sauce

Traditional soy sauce contains wheat (listed first on the ingredients). A gluten free soy sauce alternative is tamari.

French Fries

Although french fries are made from potatoes some restaurants may buy them frozen with a flour coating so they are crispier when fried, making them no longer gluten-free. In addition, french fries or anything else added to the fryer at a restaurant can be cross- contaminated when deep fried in oil that is also used with other wheat contaminated foods.

Rice Cereals

While rice is naturally gluten-free, flavored rice cereals have malt flavoring listed as an ingredient and malt is a hidden source of gluten. Malt is made from barley grains and barley needs to be avoided by gluten intolerant individuals.

Bouillon Cubes

Some bouillon cubes have gluten in it, so make sure to check your label. Gluten is usually added to hold the little squares together a bit easier or to add some thickness to the broth it creates.

Energy Bars/Granola Bars

Some bars may contain wheat as an ingredient, and most use oats that are not certified gluten-free.

Salad Dressings and Marinades

These may contain malt vinegar, soy sauce, flour.

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice is gluten-free, but brown rice syrup may be made with barley enzymes.

Eggs Served at Restaurants

Some restaurants put pancake batter in their scrambled eggs and omelettes to make them fluffier but on their own, eggs are naturally gluten free.

Why does where it was manufactured matter, when all the ingredients in a package are gluten-free?

For example, the ingredient oats, which are technically gluten-free, are often manufactured in the same processing plant along with gluten containing ingredients, which puts those oats at risk for cross- contamination. Look for oats that have a gluten-free label to ensure they were manufactured in a gluten-free facility.

Besides food, gluten can even sneak into your non-food products, such as vitamins, lipstick, and even toothpaste.

Bottom line: Make sure you fully read the nutrition label, ingredient list, and where the product was manufactured. Then, check again! One brand that you are used to getting might change the recipe for their product and may no longer be gluten-free.

Explore Performance Kitchen’s entire line of convenient gluten-free meals, including our gluten-free and dairy-free meals plans here.