Reading the ingredients before you buy each new food item is tedious and time consuming. But it gets easier over time as you learn to recognize safe products and brands and are able to buy them without further checking.
There are several problems you may run into, not just for avoiding gluten, but for avoiding many other allergens as well. Gluten, wheat, yeast and milk are probably the worst as they are used in so many food products, but the same principle applies to all allergens.
New Gluten-Containing Formulas
Sometimes the brand you have been trusting for years changes the formula. They may find that gluten-containing products are cheaper, or they may contract the manufacture of the food to a new supplier. There could be many reasons, but the result is the same: gluten in the food you came to trust as being gluten-free.
This is very frustrating. How often should you read the label? Might there be clues like a change in packaging? It is very hard to answer these questions.
Do not assume that because the label remains the same, that so too do the ingredients, especially for no-name brands and store house brands.
It is hard to know how often to check labels, as they may never change, or next week they just might be different.
I do suggest that you recheck your favorite brands a couple of times a year, or if you find that you’re feeling poorly and your allergy symptoms or celiac effects come back for no obvious reason.
Different Flavor Contains Gluten
This nearly caught me just yesterday, and is the inspiration for this article.
Just because one flavour is gluten-free, doesn’t make all the other flavours safe.
Having previously enjoyed French Truffles, I tried the raspberry pieces variety. Which chewing, I read the ingredients. EMERGENCY! They contain gluten! I spat the whole lot out before swallowing, and thoroughly rinsed out my mouth. That was a narrow escape!
It comes back to always reading the ingredients. Unless a brand stands for gluten-free, you can’t be sure that just because one flavor is safe, that all the others are.
Gluten Cross Contamination
Gluten cross contamination can happen when food handling equipment is used for other products that contain gluten, even if the product you have in your hands has no wheat listed in the ingredients.
This is a bit of a hard call, and I’ve been struggling with it myself of late.
There are brands that I have always enjoyed, which now state that they may contain wheat, gluten, nuts, milk, this, that and anything else in them.
How much should you worry about this? Are competing brands safe just because they say nothing on the label? If they never caused you problems before the warning, will they cause problems after?
This probably varies from one brand to another. So far I’ve been taking the safe route and avoiding foods with those warnings. But the even safer route is to only eat foods specifically labeled ‘gluten free’.
What experiences have you had with label reading and avoiding gluten and other allergens?