Two bowls of stir fry with gluten free keilbasa sit on a wooden table with a package of Pederson's Farms no sugar gluten free keilbasa next to it.

Is Meat Gluten-Free? How to Read Food and Nutrition Labels

Do you know what's in your food?

Gluten is a protein found in certain grains. While it doesn’t affect everyone, some people experience sensitivities or intolerances to gluten. With more and more people choosing to eat gluten-free, it’s nice to know what foods are naturally gluten-free. 

Is Meat Gluten-Free? 

Yes, naturally meat is gluten-free! Gluten is only found in certain grains, not meat, so unless there are ingredients containing these grains added to the meat in fillers or breadings, it will not contain gluten. 

Processed meats like cold cuts and pepperoni are a different story. Meats that are processed are typically processed with grains containing gluten. 

What if the animal is grain fed?

Thankfully, even if an animal is fed gluten-containing grains, the meat itself will not have gluten. This is because the proteins are broken down and converted during digestion. The gluten proteins are broken up and cannot be restored once that happens. So regardless of what the animal is fed, the meat will be gluten-free. 

How to read food labels to find hidden gluten

Obviously, food that is labeled gluten-free will not contain gluten. The gluten-free labels are certified and can be trusted. But that doesn’t mean that foods not labeled gluten-free always contain gluten. There are a few things that you can look for on food labels if you’re trying to avoid gluten. 

The first thing you want to look at is the “contains” statement on the package. If wheat is listed in this statement, the item is not gluten-free. If wheat is not listed in the “contains” statement, there are a few other things you should look for. 

According to the American Gastroenterological Association, you should avoid the following: 

1. Always avoid:
    • Wheat, wheat starch
    • Rye
    • Barley, brewer’s yeast
    • Malt extract, malt vinegar, malt flavor

    2. Avoid if product is not labeled Gluten Free:
      • Oats, oat bran, oat flour
      • Yeast (autolyzed or extract)
      • Smoke flavor from barley
      • Natural flavor from barley¹

      All of Pederson’s products are gluten-free, so any guesswork has been taken care of for you! 

      ¹American Gastroenterological Association, (2021), Gluten: Reading a Label