Hidden Gluten

Topic Overview

Gluten is a protein found in some grains, notably wheat, barley, and rye. The symptoms of celiac disease (such as diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal bloating) may or may not occur after you eat foods that contain gluten. But if you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response that is not normal and can lead to damage of your small intestine. This damage can occur even when you don't notice symptoms.

Some foods and food products may contain gluten even when it is not specifically listed as an ingredient. The following foods and food products may have hidden gluten:

Milk products

  • Ice cream and other frozen dairy products
  • Cheese spreads
  • Yogurt with fruit

Processed foods

  • Hot chocolate mixes or cocoa, chocolates, and candy bars
  • Bouillon cubes, soup mixes, and canned soups
  • Processed meats and poultry, such as hot dogs, sausages, and luncheon meats
  • Imitation meat and seafood
  • Energy bars

Other products

  • Breading and coating mixes, gravy and other sauce mixes, ketchup, marinades, mustard, nondairy creamer, panko, peanut butter, salad dressings, soy sauce, and tomato sauce
  • Drink mixes and herbal teas
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is a filler product used in many prepared or processed foods
  • Communion wafers used in religious services
  • Children's modeling dough (such as Play-Doh)
  • Some vitamins and herbal, mineral, and nutritional supplements
  • Some prescription and nonprescription medicines
  • Some kinds of lipstick and lip balm

If you have celiac disease, be sure to learn about sources of hidden gluten. You may not always have symptoms, so you can't judge whether a food is safe by how you feel after eating it.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jerry S. Trier, MD - Gastroenterology
Last Revised May 29, 2012

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