10 Items That People Think Contain Gluten But Actually Don't

If you're just going gluten-free, you've probably done a lot of research or at least looked into what may contain gluten. We're all pretty fortunate enough to live in an age where so much information is available on the internet with the touch of a button. A place where people can share expert information on forms and everything people need to know about gluten. It's pretty great, isn't it? As our president once said,

Man he was a cool guy. At this point I hope you know that not everything you read on the internet is true. There's actually been a lot of misconceptions going around about certain items that contain gluten, but actually do not! Here are some of the top 10 most common items that people mistake for containing gluten. I even thought some of these contained gluten for a while!

Note that this list applies to the U.S. only. Other countries may have different practices that causes this list to be incorrect outside of the U.S.

The following items and ingredients below are gluten-free:

Soy - Soy is 100% gluten-free and a separate source from gluten. It is important to understand that most soy sauce is not gluten-free. This is because soy sauce often contains wheat, not because of the soy itself. Soy as an ingredient is gluten-free.

Corn Flakes - As an ingredient, they do not contain gluten. However, brands of cereal that use corn flakes often include malt flavoring as well which would cause it not to be gluten-free. More info.

Modified Food Starch - It is generally derived from corn and will be gluten-free unless stated otherwise on the label. The only time it will not be gluten-free is if it says in the allergen section, "contains wheat".

Envelope Seals - A HUGE misconception is that wheat is used for the seal that you lick on an envelope. This is not true. According to the international Envelope Manufacturers Association, "Remoistenable adhesives are derived from corn starch and do not contain wheat or rye gluten." More info.

Caramel Coloring - "Corn is used to make caramel color in the U.S. The FDA does permit use of barley malt but all major caramel color producers say corn makes a better product. This ingredient is gluten free. It is usually made from corn, beet sugar or molasses." - Gluten Free Living Magazine

Carbs - Some people who are newly gluten-free think that all carbs contain gluten. This is completely false as carbs are in many naturally gluten-free foods and have absolutely nothing to do with the ingredient, gluten.

Rice / Potatoes - People who are not gluten-free often think rice or potatoes contain gluten. (You'll probably hear it from restaurant waiters) It's easy to know that rice and potatoes are gluten-free as individual ingredients. However, some restaurants may add ingredients to the rice that may cause it to contain gluten. Always ask just in case.

Whey - Whey is mistakenly thought of to contain wheat due to it's similar name. It is actually 100% gluten-free and is a type of milk protein completely separate from wheat.

Buckwheat - Another common ingredient that people worry about containing gluten because of the name. Buckwheat is 100% gluten-free and is not associated with gluten at all. It is actually a seed, in matter of fact, and is safe for celiacs. More info.

Wheatgrass - Pure wheat grass and barley grass (just the grass, with absolutely no seeds) do not contain gluten. However, while wheat grass and barley grass in their pure forms are considered gluten-free, it matters how they're harvested and how products containing them are produced. If the harvesting is done with cross contamination in mind, it is considered to be gluten-free and safe for celiacs. Make sure to call the manufacturer or ask about the wheatgrass being gluten-free before consuming it. More info.

Please note that a lot of these items contain other allergens that people may react to. Soy and corn are very commonly seen allergies to be linked with being gluten-free. I recommend getting tested for all food allergies so you can be aware of everything you have to avoid on your diet. 

 Are there any common items that you think may contain gluten? Comment below!
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  1. The envelope one I was never sure about! Haha!
    And the wheatgrass I was 90% sure was okay, but was still always hesitant! Great post Taylor!

  2. Thanks Rebecca! I'm still cautious with the wheatgrass too just in case ;)

  3. Great info for newbies, Taylor, as well as something we can show friends and relatives who might need a reminder. Thanks!

  4. It never occurred to me that envelope glue might have gluten in it. I still have a lot to learn. We are finally getting our son in to a gastroenterologist the first of June. Hopefully we will soon be learning more about what is going on.

    Thank you so much for all your hard work. Have a blessed weekend.

  5. Thank you SO much for this list Taylor- I'm sharing it across my platforms, all the silly hate emails and stuff I get for saying soy is gluten free and rice too!

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  7. What it all boils down to is "read the label." I have become addicted to reading the label, even on things that are labeled gluten-free. Even then there is no guarantee that what you bought is GF, nor what your family/friends/restaurants feed you is GF, despite what they say. As a Celiac, I have been taken by suprise a few times. I found an app for my iPhone that will scan barcodes and let you know if it is good for you. But I still read the label.

  8. Posts like this are (one) reason I love your site! Great info that I'm passing on to my readers, thanks Taylor!

  9. It all boils down to the words you used: usually, normally; it depends on where & how said products are stored before packaging; and how sensitive your body is to gluten! Not all corn starch is pure, as not all corn starch is stored/manufactured in a safe environment. The bottom line is you have to be cautious about processed foods. I have what they have termed a cross reaction to grains that are considered gluten free, ie millet, buckwheat. I suppose it's just a coincidence that the grains and other products I have a cross reaction to were previously on the DO NOT EAT list but since the 20ppm came into play, have been moved to the SAFE TO EAT list.

  10. It is hard to eat in Chinese restaurants as the soy sauce they use is usually not gluten free and it seems soy sauce is in all of their sauces. I think I will just order the food with no sauce and take my own GF soy sauce...but it just won't be as good!

    1. Hello I just read your comment and wanted to share something gI have recently found...wait for it GF soy sauce that isnt Tamari sauce! Its by La Choy. I was thrilled to find this since my 7 yr old has been recently diagnosed with celiac disease and loves asian dishes

  11. Just a word of caution - Mash Potatoes in restaurants may contain gluten if they mix flour with them to make them "spread" out farther....
    as in feed more people.

  12. what about caramel coloring in canada is it the same or dif

  13. thanks for this list! i was never sure about the modified food starch. so frustrated to learn that it's from corn! why does corn have to be in everything??? it's incredibly difficult (& expensive) to find/buy food that's gluten, dairy and corn-free!

  14. Agree with ejelassi. Like soooo many others with CD I am corn intolerant. Cannot eat it at all. The When thing always throws me.

  15. I have read that mushrooms are grown in a gluten containing substance do you have any knowledge if this is true?

  16. Why do people say buckwheat is actually a seed, like this makes it completely different to wheat? Wheat is also a seed. All grains are seeds. It's gluten free because it's not the same plant as wheat, not because it's a seed!