Hidden Sources of Gluten

An up close image of foods with gluten

Have you found that living a gluten-free life seems a lot more complicated than the recommendation to avoid wheat, rye, and barley? 

For example, did you know that wheat has many different forms and names? It is helpful to be familiar with all of the following: wheat berries, wheat germ, semolina, spelt, couscous, bulgur, farina, graham, durum, emmer, farro, khorasan, udon, einkorn, triticale.

Beware of the following tricky ingredients on products that are not labeled “gluten-free”: starch, modified food starch (such as modified corn starch, or modified vegetable starch), hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, textured vegetable protein, dextrin, maltodextrin, glucose syrup, caramel, malt flavoring, malt extract, malt vinegar (distilled vinegar is okay), and brown rice syrup.

Below, you’ll find many potentially hidden sources of gluten. But please note: it’s important to read labels every time you purchase an item to verify that all ingredients are gluten-free since manufacturing practices may change.

Beans in Sauces

- Ingredients in Sauces

Beauty Products

- Lip balms (small amounts may be consumed)
- Toothpastes (small amounts may be consumed)

Beverages and Alcohol

- Instant flavored coffees (Swiss mocha, cappuccino), artificial coffee creamers, herbal teas
- Hot chocolate mixes (may have been processed on machines exposed to wheat)
- Soy or rice drinks may contain barley malt or rice syrup
- Malt beverages
- Beer, ale, lager
-Alcoholic drink mixes


- Veined cheeses may be made with bread molds. While the amount of gluten in one serving is minimal, if you really like cheese and have several servings then it may be best to go with hard cheese instead.
- Cheese spreads or sauces


- Chip seasonings may contain flavorings that contain gluten like malt vinegar and wheat starch
- Tortilla chips may be fried in the same oil as food containing gluten

Cereals - hot or dry

- While oats are naturally gluten-free, they're often grown next to wheat or packaged in facilities that have gluten-containing products, so could be contaminated with gluten
- Beware of bulk bins of oats as they may come in contact with bulk products containing gluten
- Puffed rice or corn cereals may also come in contact with gluten during manufacturing

Condiments, Jams, and Syrups

- Soy sauce, malt vinegar, salad dressings, commercial sauces, soup bases, marinades, sandwich spreads, and coating mixes


- Omelets and eggs may be made with pancake batter at restaurants
- Hollandaise sauce on Eggs Benedict

Frozen Veggies in Sauce

- The sauce may contain gluten products or soy sauce


- Pie fillings
- Dried fruit may be dusted with flour during processing

Gluten-Free Pizza and Baked Goods

- May come in contact with other grains if food-service handlers are not educated on gluten-free practices

Items Labeled "Wheat-Free"

- Gluten also comes from barley and rye

Meat, Poultry, Fish

- Hydrolyzed meat protein, which contains gluten, may be added to meat products
- Lunch meats, cold-cut deli meats, hot dogs, salami, and sausage
- Breaded or battered meats

Meat and Fish Substitutes

- Veggie burgers, veggie sausage, veggie bacon or crumbles, imitation seafood, seitan

Medications and Supplements

- Gluten may be used as a filler, coating, or binder
-Ask your pharmacist if your medication contains gluten (often generic versions contain traces)


- Dry roasted nuts may be dusted with flour during processing
- Nut butters may containing gluten-containing ingredients

Pickled Products

- Some pickling processes include malt vinegar

Potatoes, Rice, and Starch

- Beware of commercial potato or rice products with seasoning packets
- French fries may be fried in the same oil as foods containing gluten, contaminating the oil

Salad Toppings

- Salad dressing
-Beware of salad bars as foods may come into contact with gluten-containing ingredients
- If dining out, ask your server to avoid putting croutons on your salad

Soups, Gravies, and Bouillon

- Gluten may be used as a thickener in gravies and soups
- Maltodextrin may be present in some bouillon cube brands

Sweet Treats and Snacks

- Flavored puddings, ice creams, and gelatos
- Flavored milks or yogurts, especially malted milk or yogurts that have toppings
- Candy (especially licorice), energy bars, chewing gum, and granola
- Candy in bulk food binds may come into contact with gluten-containing foods
- Carob or vegan chocolate chips

Soy Sauce and Miso

- Soy sauce (except for gluten-free Tamari versions) is made with wheat
- Miso may be made with barley
- Seasoned soy and tempeh products
- Seitan and 3-grain tempeh
- Soy protein powder drinks

I know this list must have felt really overwhelming. Remember: when in doubt, leave it out! Rather than choosing a questionable product that may cause you pain and a flare up of symptoms, choose naturally gluten-free starches like rice, quinoa, corn, buckwheat, potatoes, sorghum, and wild rice. 

Want to avoid the hassle of reading nutrition labels? Work with me – I can quickly guide you toward food products that fit your nutritional needs.

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