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The List of Ingredients People THINK Have Gluten, but Really DON’T

Amy Leger

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Learning which ingredients are gluten-free and which are not,  takes some time and patience. Within the first few months you learn a lot of what you need to know to live gluten-free.  But there are a few lingering ingredients that it took me a while to digest, remember and even accept they are gluten-free.

Here is a quick list of items that really are gluten-free even though there might be something out there that makes you think they aren’t.

Vinegar

Two times since Emma as been diagnosed, a gluten-related dietary restriction has changed for us. This was the first.

Emma was diagnosed in June of 2000.  At that time I was trying to figure out what to feed Emma that didn’t have vinegar.   By the end of that year, the American Dietetic Association officially determined distilled vinegar is safe for people on the gluten-free diet. Boy did that make life easier.  The only vinegar that’s not safe is malt vinegar.

You may still find outdated information online about vinegar.  The best  info I have seen on this comes from Gluten Free Living Magazine’s article “The Last Word on Vinegar:  It’s Safe”. Please refer to this article for additional information.

Oats

Oats was the second gluten-related dietary restriction that changed for us.  Celiac.com wrote about this in March of 2003. That’s the approximate time the American Dietetic Association again made a change.  It said uncontaminated oats are safe for celiacs.   However additional articles in the last 8 years by celiac.com followed up on some celiacs who still cannot tolerate oats,  and additional studies saying they are for the most part still safe.

Bottom line, if you’re going to try to incorporate oats into your diet, DON’T buy Quaker or your local generic brand.  You must look for guaranteed gluten-free oats, like  the ones made from Bob’s Red Mill.

Glutinous Rice Flour

Yeah, don’t let the name confuse you.  Glutinous Rice Flour and Sweet Rice Flour are the same thing.

“Sweet rice flour is ground from short-grain glutinous rice, aka ‘sticky rice.’ Don’t worry, though; the fact that it’s called glutinous rice does not mean that it contains gluten. Rather, this rice has a much higher starch content than other kinds of rice, making it an extremely efficient thickening agent for sauces or binder for things like mochi and noodles.” TheKitchn.com

I use sweet rice flour in my Holiday cookies.  I buy it at Asian Food Markets, although some larger grocery stores might be carrying it.

Whey

At first glance it may look like wheat, or a derivative of it.  But in actuality, according to dictionary.com, Whey is “a milk serum, separating as liquid from the curd after coagulation, as in cheese making.”  So if you’re dairy free, you should worry about whey, but not if you’re gluten-free.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Again, because of the word glutamate, which sort of sounds like gluten, people think it has gluten in it.   It is on celiac.com’s safe ingredient list. Tricia Thompson, the Gluten Free Dietitian, says “There may be other reasons to avoid MSG but gluten is not one of them.”  Her article on MSG and gluten free explains how MSG is made from “sugar cane, beet sugar, corn starch and tapioca starch”.   Some people do have an issue with MSG, but it is celiac safe.

Buckwheat

Despite the name that could freak out any gluten sensitive person, buckwheat is safe to eat — as long as you’re buying pure buckwheat.

According to Clan Thompson’s Celiac Site, “Buckwheat: Gluten free: Yes. Vegetarian: Yes. Comments: Despite its name, this is a member of the asparagus family, NOT the wheat family. It is gluten free, but should be checked since it’s often sold as a blend of buckwheat and wheat.”

Artificial Flavorings

I shied away from this one for a long time.  Clan Thompson’s Celiac Site was again, very helpful in answering this question:

“Artificial Flavor: Gluten free: Yes. Vegetarian: Yes. Comment: The FDA states that artificial flavorings may not be derived from meat – fish – poultry – eggs – dairy products -fermentation products – fruits – vegetables – edible yeasts – herbs or plant material”

In summary, it is possible there are certain ingredients on this list that don’t agree with you personally.  But from the research listed here, for gluten-free individuals, these are safe ingredients.



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I like the article. It's always nice to have some things cleared up for anyone who is just starting out, like the term buckwheat, or 'glutinous' rice flour.

 

But I'll be honest, some of the issues I wish the American Dietetic Association had been more, hmm, detailed in their analysis rather than making a blanket statement that really doesn't apply for every company.

 

Distillation as a process seems to be safe for eliminating gluten. That's good to know.

 

Distillation in a particular factory, where the grain to be distilled will be in the same factory, creates a potential cross contamination risk, just like anything else that is 'processed in a facility that also processes wheat.' The distillation process is not in question. A company's process to keep gluten cross contamination to a minimum might be.

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