4 Tips to Avoiding Hidden Gluten
It’s no secret that living the gluten free lifestyle takes a fair amount of research and a huge amount of diligence. If you’re new on the learning curve, don’t get overwhelmed – it does become second nature after a while. The payoff is big for you or your gluten free family member and I speak from experience, it will definitely get easier. Here are 4 tips for successfully avoiding hidden gluten at the grocery store.
1. Identify your allergy/intolerance/sensitivity
Know the foods that trigger a reaction and study the names they may hide under. Many ingredients go by multiple names, so if you think you may forget all the things you are looking for, bring a list to the store until you feel confident that you’ve got it (See the list below)You can purchase a listing of known gluten free brands as a reference in an iphone app, or in book form (I have Cecilia’s Gluten Free Shopping Guide, by Matison and Matison)
2. Read, read, and read again.
Even if you’ve purchased a product dozens of times, check the label each time. Companies frequently change their formulas in order to save money, switch suppliers, or improve lagging sales.
3. If needed, contact the manufacturer.
If you’ve gone to the store armed with knowledge of what you’re avoiding, you’ve read the label, and you still can’t figure out if a product is safe, call the manufacturer. Almost all websites list a customer service email or phone number and companies are happy to talk to you about their ingredients and processes.
Just because a product doesn’t say its gluten free in big bold letters on the front, doesn’t mean its not. Many products are naturally gluten free and aren’t necessarily going to call your attention to it. By the same token, I’ve spoken to companies who use a lot of legal jargon to refuse verifying that something is absolutely gluten free even though it is because they are afraid of being sued if you happen to get sick. That happened today with an email response from a household product company. They actually said they will not say if any of their products are gluten free because it is the customer’s responsibility to check. That doesn’t mean none of their products are GF. Just try to wade through the conversation or email and separate out the real story from the legal jargon. If in doubt, proceed to step 4.
4. When in doubt, leave it out!
If your reaction to the foods you are trying to avoid is fairly mild, you may be up for a bite for experimentation’s sake when you are unsure, but for the majority of gluten free folks or those with other allergies and sensitivities, it’s just not worth it!
Are Oats Safe on a GF diet? It is likely that oats processed on the same equipment with wheat are contaminated, but oats in and of themselves have been found by the American Dietetic Association to be safe for Celiac patients and others who are on gluten free diets – assuming they are labeled gluten free and processed in a plant without wheat. Do your homework. (Bob’s Red Mill and a few others sell gluten free oats)
Hidden Gluten Sources
Obviously on a gluten free diet, the main grains to avoid are wheat, barley and rye, and anything derived from those 3 grains
Here are some ingredients that MAY have gluten. Some manufacturers will clarify the source of the ingredient if it is not specified on the label.
- Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour
- Barley extract
- Dextrin Palmitate
- Fermented grain extract
- Flour or Cereal products, unless made with pure rice flour, corn flour, potato flour, or soy flour
- Hydrolyzed Malt Extract
- Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
- Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, unless its source is corn or soy
- Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour
- Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
- Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
- Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer
- Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
- Malt or Malt flavoring, unless its source is corn
- Maltodextrin (can be derived from wheat or corn)
- Modified Starch or Modified Food Starch, unless arrowroot, corn, potato, tapioca, waxy maize, or maize is used
- Phytosphingosine extract
- Samino peptide complex
- Secale Cereale (Rye) Seed Flour
- Sodium C8-16 Isoalkylsuccinyl
- Soy Sauce or Soy Sauce Solids, unless you know they do not contain wheat
- Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract
- Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil
- Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Gluten
- Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Starch
- Vitamin E (source can be wheat germ – clarify with manufacturer)
- Wheat Amino Acids
- Wheat Germ Glycerides
- Wheat Germamidopropalkonium Chloride
- Wheat Protein Sulfonate
- Wheatgermamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
- Yeast Extract