Controversial Gluten Free Ingredients

We all remember when we first started out going gluten-free and all the questions we had about the diet. One of the biggest things to wonder about was, "what ingredients are gluten-free?" Overtime I learned what to look out for while reading labels and began to get very good at it like most people. But there are still some ingredients even today that I've always wondered about and I think most people wonder about too. This list will show which controversial ingredients are guaranteed safe and which ingredients are not.

Gluten-Free Ingredients List:


Grains that do not contain gluten: Corn in all forms (corn flour, corn meal, grits,etc.). Rice in all forms (white, brown, basmati and enriched rice). Also amaranth, buckwheat (kasha), Montina, millet, quinoa, teff, sorghum and soy.

Ingredients that do not contain gluten: Annatto, glucose syrup, lecithin, maltodextrin, oat gum, plain spices, silicon dioxide, starch, food starch and vinegar (only malt vinegar might contain gluten). Also citric, lactic and malic acids as well as sucrose, dextrose and lactose; and these baking products: arrowroot, cornstarch, guar and xanthan gums, tapioca four or starch, potato starch flour and potato starch, vanilla.

Distilled vinegar is gluten free. (See malt vinegar under below).

Distilled alcoholic beverages are gluten free because distillation effectively removes gluten from wheat. They are not gluten free if gluten-containing ingredients are added after distillation, but this rarely, if ever, happens.

Envelopes: This may sound crazy but there have been some people stating that the part you lick on an envelope does contain gluten. After a simple web search you can easily find out that this is not true and that all glue used on envelopes in the U.S. is gluten-free.

Not Safe:

Wheat in all forms (including spelt, kamut, triticale, durum, einkorn, farina, semolina, cake flour, matzo, wheat starch, modified wheat starch, hydrolyzed wheat protein and couscous.)

Barley and malt, which is usually made from barley, malt syrup, malt extract, malt flavoring and malt vinegar.


Dextrin can be made from wheat, which would be noted on the label, and would not be gluten free.

Flavorings are usually gluten free, but in rare instances can contain wheat or barley. By law, wheat would have to be labeled. Barley is usually called malt flavoring. In extremely rare instances, neither barley nor malt is specified in a flavoring.

Wheat germ is part of the wheat grain and it contains gluten. The germ and bran of wheat are the outer portions of the grain that are often removed during refinement of wheat for flour.

Caramel color is almost always made from corn, but it can be made from malt syrup. However, in more than 10 years, we have not been able to find a single instance of a caramel color produced this way. Companies in North America say they use corn. You can consider caramel color GF. 

Modified food starch is gluten free, except when wheat is noted on the label, either as "modified wheat starch," modified starch (wheat) or if the Contains statement at the end of the ingredients list includes wheat.

Oats used to be considered unsafe, but recent research has shown that a moderate amount of special pure oats is safe for most celiacs. Several companies produce oats specifically for the GF market. They are labeled gluten free.

Pharmaceuticals can contain gluten, although most are gluten free. Check with the pharmaceutical company, especially if you take the medication on a continuing basis.

Seasonings and seasoning mixes could contain gluten. Wheat will be noted on the label as required by law.

Soy Sauce is usually fermented from wheat. However, some brands don't include wheat and are gluten free. Read the label to be sure.

Companies can label products gluten-free even if they contain gluten. So what's actually safe on a gluten-free diet? Learn more Here.
NewerStories OlderStories Home


  1. This is a great blog post! Very helpful and informative!

  2. That's an okay list, but I also see A LOT of unhealthy ingredients too. That is the maim reason I make most of our gluten free cookies, cakes, muffins, crackers ect. Just because it is gluten free doesn't mean it is healthy for you.
    An example: corn

  3. Thanks for commenting! It wasn't meant to be a list to show healthy ingredients. It was meant to show which questionable ingredients may contain gluten or not. I completely agree on the concept stating, "just because it's gluten-free doesn't mean it's good for you." Very important thing for people to know but it doesn't mean these things are bad in moderation. I appreciate your input!

  4. thanks for the list!!!!

  5. This is great! Can you clarify something for me? I've always thought that modified food starch is safe if it's made in the USA because it has to be labeled if it's made from wheat, but what about other countries? I was at a restaurant and they told me that their BBQ sauce wasn't safe due to the modified food starch. I couldn't see on the label where it was from the USA so I went with their recommendation and didn't eat it. Is modified food starch still safe if it comes from another country? Thanks for your help in advance. :)

  6. I would say that it is more likely not to be safe if it is from another country since the process may be different there. If it is from the U.S. then it is almost always safe so I would just be more careful if it is from another country.

  7. Thanks! I like the "almost always safe" lol :)