Treatment Guid

Hide and Seek with Gluten: Where it Hides and how to Avoid it

Every day those of us who are gluten intolerant or sensitive need to read labels and ask questions when it comes to food. Gluten pops up in unexpected places that sometimes even shock me, so it is never safe to assume a dish/product is safe. I have previously written about unexpected sources of gluten, so this article serves as a follow up.gluten free

Let’s start with people who don’t understand what the term gluten means. When I ask people about gluten-free options when dining out I have heard responses like ‘no, we don’t put glue in our food’ and ‘there is no sugar in our food’. In these instances people have mistakenly thought gluten is glue, or that it is glucose.

Let’s not forget those companies that label their products gluten free and are using the term as a marketing ploy. I have included photos of a couple of signs where products were labeled either nearly gluten free, or 99% gluten free, and the disclaimer from Domino’s gluten-free crust. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked how ‘gluten sensitive’ are you? I always reply I am 100% gluten free and it is either free of gluten, or it isn’t.

I decided to approach this article a little differently than the previous one and include methods of preparation in addition to ingredients. Here is what I have recently found:

Boiling preparation

  • Edamame – Anne Steib at Gluten-Free Musings encountered a restaurant that boils their edamame in the same water as their gluten noodles.
  • Pasta – can be prepared in the same water as gluten noodles at an Italian restaurant and at an Asian restaurant.
  • Vegetables – can be steamed, or boiled in gluten water


Fryer preparation

  • Anything that is fried in a fryer that is not dedicated picks up particles of gluten while it is cooking, so it is not safe. Do not eat french fries, chicken nuggets, tortilla chips, nachos, potato skins, or anything else that is fried in a shared fryer.
  • Chips – a lot of times chips at a Mexican restaurant are either prepared in a shared fryer, or dropped in a shared fryer to warm them up prior to serving. I recently went to Chuy’s in Dallas and I heard from a manager that the chips are fried fresh every day in a dedicated fryer, but that the same fryer is used to fry the taco salad bowls throughout the day.
  • French Fries – at a recent event I attended a restaurant that normally prepares gluten-free fries used a fryer at the event facility that was not dedicated; however, they told me the fries were gluten free until I asked about how they were prepared that night.


When it comes of ingredients in processed food, please remember they can change frequently, so it is important to read labels every time you pick up a product.


  • A number of restaurants line bacon/sausage pans with gluten bread to soak up the extra grease. Ask before ordering and before choosing it from a buffet.



  • Be sure to ask how eggs are prepared when dining out. Scrambled eggs on a steam table at a buffet may not be gluten free.
  • Some places put pancake batter, or flour in their scrambled eggs/egg dishes to make them fluffier (International House of Pancakes does)
  • Omelettes are not always made with cracked eggs, but a mix that can contain gluten.



  • I can honestly say I have never seen flour in tomato paste, but Elizabeth Barbone found that Contadina’s tomato sauce clearly lists gluten.



  • Unless the oats are certified gluten free, there are not safe for those following a gluten-free diet. Elizabeth Barbone shared the label of a coconut water that contains oats. Normally coconut water is gluten free, so this was a good catch.


Soy Sauce

  • It seems necessary to bring up this category again. Soy sauce can be present in a number of foods, such as chili, coleslaw, salad dressing, sauces, soup, and even barbecue sauce. Be sure to read the label and ask the right questions when dining out to ensure you don’t make an error.


Where is the weirdest place you have found gluten? What dish was gluten in that completely shocked you?



Author Information: Jennifer D. Harris, Atlanta, GA
Jennifer D. Harris,
Atlanta Gluten-Free Examiner
Program Chair, Atlanta Metro CeliacsTwitter@jenniferGFinGA

About Jennifer Harris

Author Information: Jennifer D. Harris, Atlanta, GA Jennifer D. Harris, Atlanta Gluten-Free Examiner Program Chair, Atlanta Metro CeliacsTwitter@jenniferGFinGA
  • Dano says:

    White Vinegar and many vinegars are made from grain, usually wheat as it is cheap.
    White Vinegar is the Evil!!

  • Katherine says:

    Mustard, I was shocked to find malt vinegar in my mustard.

  • Sharon says:

    Cheap pepper. Was eating 100%gf and still having
    symptoms. Use a mill now.

  • Gina says:

    Ice cream can have gluten in it…even just plain vanilla.

  • Angelica says:

    I don’t eat Lotus Foods Ramen anymore. They make both wheat and “gluten free” ramen noodles. But I wasn’t feeling well whenever I ate them. I thought it was too much salt, but it wasn’t. I haven’t found any safe ramen noodles. They say gluten free, but I won’t touch them again until they certify. Not worth the sickness.

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