Health knowledge and news provided by doctors.

What is gluten-free? 7 sneaky foods that contain gluten

Lana Bandoim's picture

Whether you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you have to be aware of the sneaky foods that contain gluten. They can sabotage your gluten-free diet and hurt your health.


One of biggest challenges of the gluten-free diet is figuring out what is safe to eat. Food labels can be confusing, and it is easy to make a mistake while you are trying to figure out what is free from gluten. However, several common foods usually contain gluten that you want to avoid.

What is gluten-free?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), gluten-free means that a food item has less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale and barley. If you want to know what is gluten-free, then you have to read the product label and may need to contact the manufacturer for more information.

Sneaky foods that contain gluten

1. Spices

You do not want to assume that a jar of black pepper or thyme is gluten-free. It is possible for contamination to occur during the manufacturing and processing stage, so some spices have gluten in them. For example, ground coriander seeds were recalled because the packages were tainted with gluten.

2. Rotisserie chicken

Before you pick up a cooked rotisserie chicken at your grocery store because you do not have time to cook dinner, you must check the label. This is one of the sneaky foods that contain gluten, and stores sometimes use wheat flour in the cooking process or seasonings. In addition, you want to ask the store manager if the rotisserie chickens are cooked separately from other foods that may contain gluten.

Follow eMaxHealth on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.

3. Cooking Spray

Many cooking sprays have flour as an ingredient because it helps make the product less sticky. If you need a baking spray, you have to read the labels and make sure that it is gluten-free and safe for celiac disease.

4. Salad dressings

Another one of the sneaky foods that contain gluten is salad dressing. Wheat is often a binder in the dressings, so they are thicker. You may also encounter products with rye or barley ingredients. You cannot assume that your favorite ranch or Italian salad dressing is free from gluten.

5. Trail mix

It is crucial that you read the labels on any trail mix before you buy it. Some of the mixed nuts and dried fruits are not safe for celiac disease and gluten intolerance. The risk of cross-contamination is high, and wheat flour is occasionally used to coat nuts. In addition, many of the trail mixes are made in processing plants that also have gluten-containing foods.

6. Soy sauce

Soy sauce confuses many people because soybeans are technically gluten-free. However, most brands use wheat to make soy sauce, so you have to check each label. There are gluten-free versions of soy sauce, and you may want to try coconut aminos or liquid aminos.

7. Frozen vegetables

You may think that a bag of frozen peas or corn is safe since vegetables do not have gluten. However, some brands process the frozen vegetables on the same lines that have gluten-containing foods. For example, Walmart’s Great Value brand of frozen veggies has a label that states they are processed in a facility which also processes wheat.