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Starting a gluten free diet can be a bit confusing at times - so I'm aiming to put together the number one resource to answer all your coeliac disease questions!
Well - maybe number two second to Coeliac UK - but still, this coeliac disease FAQs post is designed to help you with every aspect of a gluten free diet.
It seems while something are straight cut - no bread, no cakes, no doughnuts - others are a little more confusing.
A lot of the same products are under fire, causing controversy or just generally baffling people.
So I wanted to make things a little easier.
Call it a 'Coeliac FAQs' if you will. But I thought I'd gather together some of the questions I see asked the most on Facebook into one handy blog post.
I really hope these answers will come in handy - I've done a lot of research and consulting with Coeliac UK and various companies on these.
But of course, if anything changes, I will update you!
Here are some commonly asked questions about coeliac disease and being gluten free.
All advice was correct at the time of publishing (last updated May 2021) but please do, as always, double check yourself.
Is Bisto Best gluten free?
I remember for years having jars of Bisto Best (not the granules in tubs - they have gluten) but there seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding it now.
Ironic, given there are SO MANY gluten free gravy options on the market.
The short answer is: Jars of Bisto Best do not contain gluten in the ingredients.
They have more recently been marked with a 'may contain traces of gluten' warning.
However, the Coeliac UK scanner app says they are still gluten free.
Therefore, personally this would tell me the jars of Bisto Best are gluten free.
Is Vimto gluten free?
I've seen a lot of heated debates about Vimto, but it appears that although it contains Barley Malt (which has to be listed in bold because it is an allergen) it is in fact gluten free.
The Coeliac UK app lists it as gluten free.
Vimto says on its website: "Vimto is classed as gluten-free. There is a very small amount of gluten present which carries through from the barley malt used in its manufacture, but the level is far below the threshold above which it would be considered to contain gluten (20 parts per million)."
Side note - I love that 'is Vimto only popular in the UK?' actually made it into their FAQs!
Is barley malt vinegar gluten free?
Malt vinegar is a bit of a confusing one as the advice has recently changed.
If you read this post when it was first published, it would have said barley malt vinegar was fine - but Coeliac UK has since changed its guidance.
As of January 2021, Coeliac UK will no longer be listing products containing barley malt vinegar or barley malt extract as safe for people with coeliac disease unless they are specifically labelled as gluten free.
This is placing a greater responsibility on the manufacturers to confirm that products contain less than 20ppm of gluten and can be labelled as gluten free.
And while this is a bit frustrating for those who have indulged in a sprinkle of vinegar for years, let's hope it will force these companies into clearer labelling standards.
Although chip fans do not fear - I've seen a few brands of 'gluten free' labelled vinegars out there so it should be possible to track some down.
You can read more about malt vinegar (and all sauces, as a matter of fact) in my gluten free guide to sauces and condiments, right here.
Is Worcestershire sauce gluten free?
Unfortunately, as with barley malt vinegar, the guidance on Worcester sauce like Lea and Perrins also changed in January 2021.
This means unless specifically marked as gluten free, you should consider Worcester sauce containing barley as not suitable for a gluten free diet.
There are some supermarket free from versions (I think Tesco does one) as well as some other alternative out there.
Again, you can find more on the subject of Worcester sauce in my guide to gluten free sauces and condiments here.
Are oats gluten free?
Oats themselves do not contain gluten - they contain a very similar protein called avenin which can cause a similar reaction to gluten in some people with coeliac disease.
BUT the problem comes in the manufacturing process.
The standard oats on the supermarket shelves are not gluten free.
This is because they may have been cross-contaminated.
Therefore you should only eat specifically-labelled gluten free oats. You'll find these in the free from aisle.
Some people do still find they have a reaction to gluten free oats and if this is the case, you should definitely go back and speak to your GP or dietician to get some advice.
Is oat milk gluten free?
When it comes to oat milk, the same applies as with oats.
Unless the oat milk is specifically marked as gluten free, you should assume it is not safe for someone with coeliac disease.
There are however some gluten free oat milks in the UK, so all is not lost!
You can read more about this and find out which brands are safe in my guide to gluten free oat milk.
Can I drink in coffee shops where oat milk is used?
Since the eruption of veganism into the mainstream world, many coffee shops have increased their vegan offerings with oat milk.
Great news if you're dairy free, not so much if you have coeliac disease!
While some oat milks are gluten free, most are not - including Oatly, which is the most popular brand of oat milk for baristas.
Firstly, ALWAYS double check the packaging yourself if you are not sure.
I've lost count of the amount of baristas who have told me they use gluten free oat milk, only for me to ask to see the carton and find out it was NOT gluten free at all.
Secondly, you have to exercise your own judgement with this one.
Some coffee shops will be super busy and won't exercise the correct clean downs between drinks, which means there is a risk of cross contamination.
Others may be super helpful and take the time to properly clean down the steamer for you.
Some may use different nozzles for dairy and non-dairy milk, which would eliminate this risk (but not great if you're also dairy free!).
I'm afraid there isn't really a clear cut answer on this one.
I know a number of people who said they were getting ill from drinking from coffee shops using oat milk (only for drinks which use the milk frother or blenders) and others who say they are fine.
I would say go on your gut instinct, ask questions, and if you're not sure - avoid.
Or find a coffee shop which either doesn't use oat milk or uses a gluten free oat milk instead!
(Side note, since writing this, Costa Coffee has introduced gluten free oat milk nationwide, eliminating cross contamination risks - yay!)
You can read more on this - as well as a dietician's point of view - in my guide to gluten free oat milk.
Is wheat starch gluten free?
Wheat is an allergen - and because EU regulations state allergens must be highlighted in bold on ingredients lists, there's some confusion around gluten free wheat starch.
To put it bluntly: wheat starch is not gluten free.
But Codex GLUTEN FREE wheat starch IS gluten free.
It is not wheat free, hence why it is still listed in bold in the ingredients list.
I've written a whole post on gluten free wheat starch if you're interested in the full ins and outs of this subject, but in summary, if it says gluten free - it is.
Is Marmite gluten free?
Oh Marmite, why must you taunt us so?
Us long-term coeliacs will remember a time when Marmite was, apparently, safe to eat.
However, since 2016 Coeliac UK said Marmite is no longer gluten free.
This is because the yeast extract is a by-product of gluten-containing foods like bread and beer, and the levels of gluten in Marmite are above 20ppm.
However, some supermarket-own brands of yeast extract are gluten free!
So if you're missing Marmite, you'll be pleased to know that Asda Yeast Extract, Meridian yeast Extract, Morrison's Yeast Extract and Sainsbury's Reduced Salt Yeast Extract are all listed in the Coeliac UK app as gluten free.
Is soy sauce gluten free?
Sorry to any Chinese food-lovers out there because the bad news is, soy sauce is NOT gluten free.
Most soy sauces are made with wheat flour and therefore not safe on a gluten free diet.
However, most varieties of Tamari soy sauce are gluten free.
Personally I think this tastes exactly the same so it just means you can create your favourite Chinese dishes at home in a gluten free way.
Find out more about which soy sauces are safe in my guide to gluten free sauces.
Is Corona gluten free?
This is a question I see popping up again and again all over the internet - is Corona gluten free?
It seems to be a bit of an urban legend, and theories differ between the UK and the US.
I contacted Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I to ask them and received the following response:
"I have taken a look into this for you and I can confirm that Corona does indeed contain gluten.
"The only beer that we have that's gluten free is [the specific gluten free labelled] Stella Artois, you would find this in the gluten free section in Asda, Tesco and Morrisons."
Which alcohol is gluten free?
Actually, quite a lot of alcohol is gluten free!
Generally, unless it's marked specifically as gluten free, thee following alcohol contains gluten:
Pretty much most other alcohols are ok!
Spirits such as vodka, gin, rum and - yes! - whisky, are gluten free because of the distilling process.
Bailey's is a common one I get asked about at Christmas - yes, Baileys is gluten free.
You might need to be careful with pre-mixed drinks and cocktails to check nothing with gluten in is added to them, but generally speaking spirits, wines and ciders are gluten free.
Are potatoes gluten free?
I know, to most of us veteran coeliacs it's a question which seems so obvious and can often feel frustrating to answer.
But actually, I've realise if you're newly diagnosed as coeliac or cooking a gluten free meal for a friend, it actually isn't.
Potatoes ARE gluten free and suitable or people with coeliac disease.
And trust me, you'll soon realise this after you find out everywhere's gluten free option generally involved a jacket potato...
Are Malteasers gluten free?
Sadly, Malteasers are not gluten free. I'd absolutely love it if they were!
Schär has recently bought out some new chocolate balls called 'Delicios' which are similar, but not quite the same.
If Malteasers ever make a gluten free version I promise you'll hear about it from me!
Got any questions about coeliac disease?
I really hope these Coeliac FAQs have helped, but I'm always happy to answer more questions!
I'll update this post as new topics crop up so do bookmark it can keep checking back.
If you have any questions yourself, please do post them in the comments and I'll answer them.
You can also join my super friendly Facebook group and ask away in there too!
Thank you so much for this, I’ve had long arguments with a lady at work who told me whiskey, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce were not gluten free!! Living in Worcester it broke my heart driving past the factory! Now I can smother everything with it again!!
It was only through reading an earlier post about the vimto that we realised my 12 year old daughter could have it. We always thought it wasn't gluten free due to the barley malt extract she was so pleased she was allowed it
Is it true that you can have a negative blood test to coeliac disease but still get a positive biopsy result for coeliac disease??
Thanks in advance the Endoscopist refused a biopsy for coeliac disease during my examination because I had a negative blood test result…
I am still following a gluten free diet as my gastro says I am at least gluten intolerant
Olga Lilian Caddock
I have a query regarding 'dried/powdered mustard' - the kind that you mix with water.
My cousin, who was diagnosed many many years ago, tells me that it's NOT safe for Coeliacs. I've only been diagnosed for 3yrs (compared with her 26yrs), so don't want to get into an argument with somebody who is far more experienced than I am.
It's not even that I'm a great fan of mustard, but I've always liked to put a very small amount into a Home Made Cheese Sauce - just for a 'slight kick'. However, I can't find any information that indicates that we CAN'T have mustard.
Maybe this is one of those things that has changed since her original diagnosis ............................ Can you help to clear up any confusion, please?
If it’s even possible, if there a way of addressing “coeliac on a budget” with everyone feeling the pinch. It feels impossible. Thank you