If there is gluten in vodka where else is it hiding?

My interest for finding gluten hidden in everyday products that we would assume are gluten free (lesson #1: never assume) was sparked when I spotted gluten free vodka at the bottle shop. Gluten free vodka? I thought to myself. I was with friends so I looked at the price of the gluten free vodka and quickly breezed past it to my standard Absolute vodka… got to love being on a university student budget right. Whilst I love having a drink and a dance with my friends every once and a while, I am the first to admit that alcohol is not my go-to for a fun night. Hence why I have never really looked too far into alcohol not being gluten free. I was aware of the obvious drinks such as beer and malt whisky containing gluten but was oblivious to the fact vodka could contain gluten.

Long story short, Absolute vodka is actually made from wheat!! No wonder my joints always ached after drinking and my gut was doing back flips when I drank that brand of vodka but didn’t happen when I had a glass of wine! While some company’s will argue that due to the distilling process of liquors such as vodka, the remnant’s of the initial wheat will be scarce, this doesn’t essentially make it “gluten free”. For those with gluten intolerance that can handle a little bit of gluten this may be okay, but for people with Coeliac’s disease, as discussed in the previous post, every little bit of gluten exposure adds up.

So, where else is gluten hiding?

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Noodles such as soba, udon and egg noodles
  • Malt- barley malt, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt vinegar
  • Triticale
  • Oats
  • Varieties of wheat- wheat berries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farro, rye
  • Deli meats and cheeses- can have glazes on them that contain gluten. Additionally, the risk of cross-contamination is also present due to shared machines used to slice the meats
  • Traditional soy sauces contain wheat
  • Salad dressings can contain wheat, soy sauce, malt vinegar
  • Icing sugar often contains wheat
  • Products that say ‘wheat free’ doesn’t mean its gluten free- could still contain barley, rye or malt
  • Soups- often thickened by wheat flour
  • Tomato sauce and other condiments such as gravy may also be thickened by wheat
  • Vegetable, beef and chicken stock cubes/ liquid often contains wheat flour
  • Vegetarian meat alternatives- such as veggie burgers and sausages can be made with seitan (wheat gluten) or use bread crumbs to bind the products together
  • Potato crisps- may be coated in wheat starch or malt vinegar to make the flavouring stick to the chip
  • Miso
  • Caramel colour and flavouring- can be from sources other than wheat. However, it is best to avoid if it’s derivative is not detailed
  • Chocolate and confectionary can contain barley, malt and wheat
  • Ice cream- some can contain wheat or barley
  • Beauty products- lip balms/ soaps containing oats, barley, malt or wheat
  • Medications- some drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements
  • Play dough is made from wheat flour


what’s my tips of advice?

  1. Make sure you ALWAYS read the label or ask the person serving you to see the products they have used. Manufacturing companies can easily change ingredient lists so it it important to always keep checking that a product is still gluten free
  2. Stick with corn, potato or grape based vodka, rum and/or tequila (Check out this link for a list of brands that are gluten free)
  3. If you stick to fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts, seeds and gluten free grains such as rice, quinoa and buckwheat then you won’t need to be as vigilant about checking packages because most come without packaging! (Lesson #2: the less packaging the better)
  4. When in doubt, don’t eat it!

Ps. This list of gluten containing products is by no means exhaustive… feel free to let me know of any hidden places you have found gluten too!




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