Good Morning! Today we are going to continue talking about the sneaky ways gluten gets into our food. We need to watch out for several minor ingredients that contain gluten or they can do us in!
The Minor Leagues
You are probably totally fine here if you cook everything from scratch at home and don’t need to worry! Let’s be honest though, how many of us totally cook from scratch, all the time? We cook primarily, but we go out to eat sometimes, or buy the occasional processed food. We rarely eat processed foods, but it only takes once to get sick! Some sausages or grated cheeses contain “hidden” ingredients containing gluten.
In the day and age of processed food, even the healthier ones, manufacturers add in these ingredients for various reasons. We pick up processed foods as an easy option for road trips or special events even though we know they’re not always the healthiest option.
Consumers requests these items, even among “healthy” people. We all want that doughnut or whatever the case may be sometimes. Highly refined starches make up a good portion of the ingredients used, even in homemade gluten free items. They enable us to create some of the tasty treats with the right flavor and texture we are looking for.
These various ingredients are also typically in smaller quantities in our food because they are not always needed in large quantities to gain their effect, such as MSG. Sometimes they are more of a condiment, such as a sauce or a topping like Bleu Cheese.
Are they out to get us?
No, the manufacturers are not out to get us. You can argue to some degree that food manufacturers do not always want to be totally honest about where everything is derived from. However, I don’t believe that they are intentionally trying to mask the origin of ingredients that contain gluten just to make us sick. They add what they add to give what they believe is the best product possible, at the price people desire to pay.
What to watch out for:
Here are 5 ingredients that can or do contain gluten to watch out for:
- Modified Food Starch: These starches are made from various grains and tubers that are highly processed to remove the proteins from them. This process makes them more stable from a longevity standpoint and from a usage standpoint. “Modified Food Starch (Corn)” or “Modified Corn Starch” will frequently be the label. However, sometimes “Modified Food Starch” will be the label and you won’t know what the source is. If modified food starch is made from wheat, it must be labeled as such since the “Food Allergen and Customer Labeling Act” was passed in.
- Manufacturers can request to be exempted from that law, though. Some people are highly sensitive to modified food starch. Is it because it was from wheat and was not labeled, or is it some other issue from it? Who knows! What I do know is that ultimately, unless you contact the manufacturer and find out directly where it came from, you will not always know whether it may give you an issue. Consumers must be wise and pay attention.
- Bleu Cheese: Frankly, I do not have issues with bleu cheese. Why am I magically not sensitive to the potential gluten in it? I despise the stuff! You are probably saying right now “Cheese!? Why cheese!?” Here is the thing – bleu cheese (or other Roquefort style cheeses) may be made with a culture that was grown on bread. Bleu cheese bacteria likes that environment quite well. You can even make the culture yourself with a piece of bread, if you so desire. It is not always made this way, though. It can be difficult to know whether you will react to it or not.
- MSG: The infamous Monosodium Glutamate. You probably already avoid MSG if you are trying to eat healthier. Some people are highly sensitive to MSG, so it is something to watch out for. MSG makes me light headed and extremely nauseous if I eat even the smallest amount. In the past, MSG has been derived from wheat because wheat contains high levels of glutamic acid. However, it is rarely made that way anymore. I have found that most people with food allergies are sensitive to MSG as well. MSG does naturally occur in foods, but at much lower levels than it is added to our processed foods. Just be careful with this one, it’s much more of a cross reactivity issue than directly an ingredient that contains gluten.
- Barley Malt: Barley malt is an easy way to miss “gluten” being in the ingredients! Barley malt is made from barley. There is gluten in barley malt itself, and manufacturers add it to things that otherwise would be gluten free. Many rice crisp cereals contain barley malt as an extra flavoring. Manufacturers may sometimes still label it as Gluten Free because it is such a small amount. Obviously that’s not true, but the laws are a bit finagle-y on this. Some people that can handle this and some cannot. You must read ingredient labels and then make the best decision possible for you.
- Soy Sauce: People hotly debate soy sauce. Manufacturers make soy sauce from Soy, Water, Salt and Fermented Wheat. Fermentation generally denatures proteins, though. Soy sauce is tolerated by some people if it has been traditionally fermented like Kikkoman. Can you tolerate it? Your body will decide. Kikkoman makes a yummy Tamari style soy sauce from fermented rice. You can buy coconut aminos that have a similar flavor. You must also be very careful when eating out. Unless specifically stated, most restaurants use a cheap soy sauce rather than something like Kikkoman.
Those ingredients can sneak gluten into our foods. Pay attention, read labels, ask questions, but enjoy life! Sometimes it’s just easier to make your food at home. You can find the first part of our series here.
Make it a tasty day,