Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hidden sources of gluten...the game is afoot

I was out having sushi with a friend the other day that I hadn't seen in a while , and discovered during this visit that she was also gluten-free. However, I also discovered (since we were eating sushi at the time) that she did not realize that soy sauce contained gluten. As long-time readers may know, when I have sushi I tweak my order to be rice-free, soy-free and gluten-free by ordering hand rolls with no rice, and dipping my sushi into wasabi mixed with a little water instead of soy. Putting water in my wasabi looks weird, but hey, I live in LA where weird is an art form, so I get the occasional odd look at the most. :)

Anyhow, it moved me to blog a quick reminder about hidden sources of gluten out there. Most people are good with avoiding wheat and wheat products, but there are lots of unlikely places where gluten may be hiding. Remember, gluten is not only in wheat (all kinds -- including spelt, kamut, durum and semolina), but it's also in barley, oats, rye and triticale.

Here are some hidden sources of gluten to avoid that you may not have thought about:

- soy sauce (you can get wheat-free tamari which is like soy sauce, the brand is called San J and you can get it in Whole Foods and other health food stores)
- baking powder (Clabber Girl and Calumet are gf)
- vanilla (McCormicks and Nielsen-Massey are gf)
- cosmetics and toiletries (listed as wheat protein, esp prevalent in lotions and haircare products)
- caramel color (frequently made with barley)
- brown rice syrup (frequently made with barley)
- licorice whip candy (Red Vines used to be my favorite --oy!) and other candies may use wheat as a filler
- some alcoholic beverages: obviously rye and beer, but also vodka and bourbon are usually made from rye and wheat. There are a few vodkas made from potatoes, and a Japanese one made from rice (NOTE: I just did some followup research on the gluten in alcohol question, and apparently alcohol that is distilled should elimnate gluten, so my original statement was wrong. HOWEVER, colorings and flavorings could be added (caramel color, etc.) that could have wheat, which should be called out as an ingredient. So net net, check all alcohol labels, especially darker ones).
- I recently learned that most wines have gluten due to the aging in oak barrels, apparently something in the glue has gluten. However there are apparently now wines available that are aged only in metal barrels. Learned this from a celiac who needs to be the most stringent.
- modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein
- processed meats (generally try to avoid processed food as much as possible)
- pre-bottled marinades
- canned soups
- some flavored potato chips (bbq esp)

Anyhow, you get the idea. Basically if something has a soft or creamy texture, there's a likelihood that it contains gluten. Be a label detective! I'll add to this list when I think of more. What have been the most surprising places gluten has hidden from you? Please share by adding a comment section (until I get a discussion board up)!


Alana, Author of Domestically Challenged said...

Target has wheat free soy sauce and terriyaki sauce. Great list - I was just looking for a similar list!

Maggie said...

Noticed that a chocolate product from Europe was sweetened with wheat syrup (I saw at Trader Joes). Used to think most European chocolate used regular sugar, now I check. I kind of remember some ice creams that didn't have any cookie/wheat components that had wheat or wheat starch listed (used as a thickener, I guess).

Anonymous said...

This weekend while traveling, I found that Starbucks' dark chocolate w caramel has a glucose syrup identified as wheat derived. It was a little bit of a surprize, because the disclaimer only states that it was processed in a facility with wheat, not that it contained wheat as an allergan indgredient. The source country identified was Ireland.

Its interesting to note that how an ingredient is sourced varies from country to country. Worchestershire sauce is gf in the US, but not in Canada.
Very Good article!
Thanks, Rhonda