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Gluten is often used as an additive in processed foods. Gluten serves many roles – it can be a thickener, an emulsifier, or a stabilizer in many packaged foods.

Our guide to finding hidden gluten in prepared foods will get you well on your way to learning what to avoid. Please note, however, than gluten can be found hidden in the most curious of places. So if you are not absolutely certain what is in a particular food, contact the food manufacturer to determine whether it is gluten free.

Fortunately, new food labeling statutes regarding allergens will make detecting gluten in prepared foods much easier for gluten-free cooks.

Beware of the following words on food labels. Any mention of these is an indication the food contains gluten:

  • starch
  • hydrolyzed plant protein
  • emulsifiers
  • flavorings
  • natural flavorings
  • stabilizers
  • HVP (Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein)
  • TVP (Texturized Vegetable Protein)

    The following prepared foods and beverages containing gluten:

  • baked beans
  • baking powder
  • beer
  • breadings and coating mix
  • brown rice syrup
  • canned meats in broth
  • canned fish in broth
  • caramel color – this is normally made from corn but it never hurts to check
  • cheese sauces
  • shredded cheeses
  • condiments such as mustard, oriental sauces, or ketchup
  • deli meats
  • breaded fish
  • breaded meat
  • pre-packaged meats
  • hot dogs
  • dextrin – this is normally made from corn but it never hurts to check
  • dry roasted nuts
  • frozen french fries in the coating
  • gravy – all types including dry packets, cubes, canned, and processed
  • buillion cubes
  • imitation meats, fish, or cheeses
  • instant mixes for coffee and cocoa
  • licorice – both red and black
  • matzo meal
  • malted vinegars, barley, milk products, etc.
  • modified food starch
  • monoglycerides or diglycerides
  • pickles and pickled foods
  • salad dressing
  • soy sauce
  • self-basting chicken and turkey
  • flavored snack foods including flavored corn chips and potato chips
  • soups, broths, and stock
  • spice blends
  • herb blends
  • rice products with seasoning packets

    Bottom Line: Read labels thoroughly and don’t hesitate to call food manufacturers to be certain foods are gluten free. Always check over processed sauce labels. Everything from ice cream toppings to barbecue sauce could possibly contain gluten.

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