7 Surprising Foods That Contain Gluten

Whether you suffer with Coeliac Disease or you are simply striving to follow a healthy eating diet you will no doubt already know that the foods which are known to contain gluten are the usual suspects – bread, cakes, pasta and beer.

However it may surprise you to learn which other foods contain gluten and therefore should be off-limits.

1. Soy Sauce

This is a staple ingredient in many store cupboards, providing a flavour kick in many a stir-fry dish. Check the ingredients list carefully though because some contain wheat flour.

2. Meat Substitutes

Some vegetarian meat substitutes like Quorn which makes veggie burgers, sausages and chicken substitutes contain wheat flour and wheat protein. It is quite often the wheat gluten that gives the product a ‘meaty’ texture. For example, a dry chicken style roast mix from Granose (who offer vegetarian products) warns that the product contains wheat gluten.

3. Meat

Some commercially produced meat products like ready-meals, sausages, meatballs and burgers contain wheat flour as thickening agents.

4. Salad Dressings

Many salad dressings have to contain a thickening ingredient and this is often listed as modified food starch. You may not realise that this is derived from wheat gluten. Some commercially made jar or packet sauces will also contain this.

5. Cous Cous mixes

A well-known chef-endorsed flavoured cous cous packet mix is not let off the hook as the cous cous in this is derived from wheat.

6. Chocolate and Sweets

You may be thinking the world has ended if you are a dyed-in-the-wool chocoholic! However, don’t panic just yet. It‘s true that most chocolate is safe to eat especially the purer, higher quality chocolate products made from roasted cacao beans and little else. The danger can come from chocolate products that have been processed in factories where other wheat-based foods are produced. This is why you will often find warnings on the back of commercial chocolate wrappers that says ‘may contain wheat.’ It could be argued though that the biggest danger to health for most people comes from the amount of sugar contained in sweet chocolate products. Chocolates that contain biscuit textures are likely to contain wheat or barley malt. Barley malt is often used as a sweetener too.

7. Sushi

If you are a fan of the ‘healthy’ Japanese raw fish snacks then prepare to be disappointed again. The imitation crab meat of the California Roll contains wheat. And beware the dipping sauces as well. We’ve already mentioned the perils of soy sauce but unfortunately wasabi is sometimes prepared using wheat. In fact, any sushi product which is described as ‘spicy’ may well contain wheat-based spices.


Our list is sadly not exhaustive. In this world of fast, commercially prepared foods there are so many things on the supermarket shelves just waiting to trip up the unwary. Even pickles and preserves don’t escape as they are often in malt vinegar – made from barley. The solution is to scrutinize every ingredients list when shopping. Even better, shop from a specialist gluten-free outlet to be on the safe side.

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