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Where is Gluten Found?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and contaminated oats, so it likely comes as no surprise that everyday foods like bagels, pizza, bread, cake, muffins, and cookies contain gluten.

What often comes as a huge surprise to people though is how many other food and non-food items also contain gluten. I can’t tell you how many times we thought we had de-glutened the house in the beginning only to be shocked to find out about another hidden source of gluten, for example cooking spices and ketchup. It took a lot of research and trial and error over the first month to develop a solid foundation.

So why is gluten found in so many unexpected places? Because it is often used as a preservative, thickener, and anti-caking agent in a multitude of products. Understanding where gluten hides is crucial to living a gluten free life, which is the only current treatment for celiac disease. Here is a list of several items that contain gluten that might surprise you:

  • Prescription drugs and over the counter medications
  • Spices
  • Lipstick and cosmetics
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Body and face lotions
  • Shredded cheese
  • Condiments and marinades (ketchup, bbq sauce, etc.)
  • Bacon, sausage, hotdogs, salami
  • Beer
  • Blue cheese
  • Deli meats
  • Deep fried foods
  • Gravies
  • Soups and soup bases (beef, chicken, or vegetable stock or bouillon)
  • Soy sauce
  • Salad dressings
  • Candy
  • Play-doh
  • Finger paints

When using any of the items listed above, it is very important that the product is gluten free certified – look for the GF inside the circle symbol. Please note that “free of gluten” is not the same thing, and if a product is free from gluten but manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat, barley, or rye the product has potentially been affected by cross contamination and is not safe to consume or use.

To the newly diagnosed or to a family or friend that has a loved one visiting with celiac disease, this can seem overwhelming but there are gluten free options for most of the items listed above that can be found when searching online or at a local grocery store.