Is brown rice syrup really gluten-free?

Brown rice syrup is the go-to for many gluten-free bakers.  Gluten-free recipes everywhere call for the stuff and indeed, it lends a perfectly sweet flavor to cakes, cookies, muffins, and scones.  But the syrup is controversial in the world of gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease because in some cases, it contains gluten.

Some, though not all, brown rice syrup is actually fermented in a process that employs barley.  Barley, of course, contains gluten (as do spelt, wheat, triticale, some oats due to cross-contamination concerns, and others).  In order to ferment the syrup, manufacturers add barley enzymes.  Though it may result in seemingly insignificant amounts of barley in the final product, sensitive individuals would be best to avoid the syrup.  It’s also important for these sensitive people to be aware when purchasing pre-made baked goods that are labeled “gluten-free”, if brown rice syrup was used because the item may be contaminated.

However, this is not true in all cases because some companies employ a fungal enzyme to aide in the fermentation, and therefore the product is considered gluten-free.  In order to determine if this is the case, be sure to call the company and investigate the origins of the sweetener.


Gluten-Free Living Magazine

Lundberg Family Farms gluten-free brown rice syrup

Tropical Traditions gluten-free brown rice syrup

Author Information: Liz Schau, Tampa, FL
Liz Schau, Health Writer

About Liz Schau

Liz Schau is a health writer whose focus is in nutrition, as well as natural and green living. She is both the resident GreenGirl for -- a site aimed at raising self-esteem in females of all ages, as well as a columnist for on which she writes "How To Kick Your Thyroid's Ass" -- an irreverent guide to better thyroid health. She can be reached at
  • Great topic as we have gotten this question several times from consumers. Fortunately, Lundberg Family Farms’ Brown Rice Syrup is fermented using fungal enzymes and is safe for those on a gluten-free diet :)

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