The word ‘gluten’ is used to describe both the natural form that is found in a grain and a processed concentrated form that is a food additive.
Gluten in a Natural Grain
Gluten is a protein that is stored in the endosperm of a grain of most grass plants. It is used to nourish the embryonic plant during germination. The grains that we consume that contain gluten include: Wheat, Rye, Barley, Spelt, Polish wheat, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Amaranth, Quinoa, Teff, Corn, Rice, and Hemp.
How ‘Gluten Free’ Packaging Is Not Gluten Free
That’s correct – when you see a box, bag or bottle labeled ‘Gluten Free’ there’s a good chance is does contain gluten. How so?
- The FDA and manufactures’ are making reference to ‘wheat gluten’ and not all gluten from every grain. The gluten free labeling came about in response to consumers’ who have Celiac’s Disease which is directly tied to Wheat and Wheat Gluten. Hence manufacture’s responded by either removing the wheat from their products or substituting with a different grain. That’s ok if you have Celiac’s Disease and not gluten sensitivity.
- Another unintended disguise of gluten in manufactured food is due to a current inadequate labeling laws regarding food additives. What’s happening here is that manufactures do not have to list EVERY INGREDIENT on their label. How so? It turns out that if the manufacture out sources an emulsifier (or any other ingredient) and it contains gluten, the final stage manufacture does not have do list all of the substances that make up the emulsifier. Below is a list of 40+ additives that most likely will contain gluten but nowhere on the label or package will it indicate it contains gluten.
Gluten as a Food Additive: Why Manufacturers’ Use It & We Like It
Food manufacturers like using gluten as an additive in prepared foods. Gluten is used as a stablizer, an emulsifier, a thickener and flow agent in literally hundreds of processed foods, from soups to self-basting poultry. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise, be fluffy and keep its shape. Often it gives the baked breads and pastries a chewy texture. When glutens is highly processed (deaminated) it becomes a highly concentrated form that can be 1000% more reactive to our immune system causing many health hazards. Most processed gluten is from wheat.
The following list is a guide to foods that are frequent sources of added gluten and it is not all-inclusive – gluten can turn up just about anywhere. When you aren’t 100% certain that a food is gluten-free contact the manufacturer before using it. To quote Benjamin Franklin, “When in doubt, don’t!”.
- Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
- Natural Flavorings
- Baked Beans (Canned)
- Baking Powder
- Breadings and coating mixes
- Brown Rice Syrup (May contain malted barley)
- Canned meats and fish in broth
- Caramel Color (Usually corn derived, but check)
- Cheese products – Sauces and some shredded cheeses
- Condiments (Carefully read condiment labels. Gluten is often used as a stabilizer or thickening ingredient in ketchup, mustards and Oriental sauces)
- Deli Meats, breaded fish and meats, pre-packaged ground beef products and hot dogs
- Dextrin (Usually corn derived but always check)
- Dry-roasted nuts
- Flavorings, food starches, seasonings, and malt are general and vague words to watch for on labels of packaged foods. These terms are often clues that the product may contain gluten. For example, “malt” vinegar and “malted” milk powder containing gluten.
- Frozen french fries (In the coating)
- Gravy Products (Dry products, bouillion cubes, and processed, canned products)
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) and Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Imitation fish, meats and cheeses
- Instant flavored coffee/cocoa mixes
- Licorice candy (black and red)
- Matzo Meal
- Modified Food Starch
- Mono and di-glycerides
- Pickled Products
- Salad Dressings
- Sauces, including soy sauce which is commonly made by fermenting wheat. (Check ALL processed sauce labels- From BBQ sauce to ice cream toppings, chili pepper products and tomato sauce products-all may contain gluten)
- Sausage (filler, stabilizer)
- Self-basting poultry products including turkey with added “solutions”
NOTE: Gluten is used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations.