Foods That Contain Barley | Allergy

Foods That Contain Barley

by Allergy Guy

For those of you who are celiac or aallergic to barley, avoiding barley may not seem so bad. After all, it is much less common that wheat.

There are a few things to watch out for, and some of them are literally trick questions. Some ingredients look safe, but are in fact made from barley.

Here is a list of foods and food ingredients that contain (or may contain) barley or are derived from barley.

NOTE: This is not a complete list, but it will be updated as we discover additional information.

Ingredients Derived From Barley

Watch for the following on lists of ingredients. Many of these ingredients could be made from a variety of sources, including barley. Other than food that is specifically labeled “gluten-free”, you can’t be sure exactly what these ingredients are made from, and it may change over time and manufacturers use different suppliers.

If your favorite food contains one of these ingredients, try calling the manufacturer and asking them what the ingredient is derived from.

As general awareness in the food industry increases about gluten allergies and celiac disease, some manufacturers may shift from barley-derived ingredients to corn-derived ingredients.

  • Brown rice syrup (often made from barley)
  • Caramel color (sometimes made from barley)
  • Malt or malt flavoring (usually made from barley. Could be made from corn which is OK)
  • Malt vinegar
  • Maltose (often made from barley)

Foods Made From Barley

These foods are made from barley or can contain barley. Read ingredients to be sure.

  • Coffee substitutes.
  • Beer (could be made from wheat)
  • Whisky (generally ‘safe’ due to the distillation process, but highly sensitive individuals must research specific brands to be sure they are safe).
  • Mugicha (Japanese and Korean drink)
  • Soups and stews (check ingredients)
  • Fructan (a sweetener made from Barley)
  • Health foods (check ingredients)

Barley-Free Ingredients

Some ingredients look like they might be made from barley but are not:

  • Maltodextrin – may be made from potato, corn or rice. In some cases it can be derived from wheat, but must be labels as such in the US (other countries may have different labeling laws).

Note: one reader reports that “pillsbury all purpose organic to be barley free”

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tim November 24, 2017 at 10:45

I was told most Maltodextrin is made from/with Barley, unless it specifically says it’s made from corn or rice. Any time I eat a prepackaged product with Maltodextrin, I get very sick.


2 kaytee December 4, 2014 at 09:26

I have diverticulitis, can I eat barley


3 Jill November 6, 2014 at 10:28

Our daughter is allergic to barley, and I am having trouble with finding information on some food contents. Do we need to avoid whole grain or multigrain? Does oatmeal contain barley?


4 Allergy Guy November 6, 2014 at 22:01

Whole grain means the grain has been less processed, but doesn’t say anything about which grains. Assume wheat if not specified, but don’t count on int. Multigrain could include barley. In both cases, check the ingredients to find out exactly what is in the product.

Oatmeal does not contain barley in my experience, but cross-contamination is possible, unless you get buy “gluten free” oats.


5 Andres November 22, 2017 at 10:54

Oatmeal contains a promalin called avenin. Avenin contains gluten.


6 kayla September 12, 2014 at 12:39

what foods are good to eat if you have asthma?


7 Allergy Guy September 12, 2014 at 20:47

See my response under the Asthma article.


8 Nicola June 24, 2014 at 11:26


I have spent over two years trying to figure out whether I have a food allergy/ intolerance or not. I have tried gluten free and lactose free among other things but still have had problems.

I have ended up cutting out all bread, pasta, rice and white potato (as for some reason white potato affected me quite badly) as well as any ‘junk’ food and baked beans. Although I missed eating these foods I was improving and found I could have them occasionally but I had a really bad day the other day and ended up in agony with my stomach.

After eating a Milky Way chocolate bar today and getting a bad reaction I think I may have figured out that I am intolerant to Barley Malt Extract.

Is it possible to be intolerant to just Barley Malt Extract without being intolerant to Barley Flour or Barley Malt as I have found the latter two ingredients in some of my foods which don’t seem to affect me but in the ones that do, they all contain Barley Malt Extract.

Is there any test I could do to try and prove my theory as I would love to know after years of doctors dismissing it as merely IBS and not caring that I am still in discomfort.

Thank you.


9 Allergy Guy June 24, 2014 at 22:17

You’re on the right track. The best test is to cut out foods, see if you get better, then “challenge” yourself by reintroducing the foods. You do have to be careful about your assumptions, for example is there really a difference between barley malt extract and barley? The only way to know is to keep careful records and differentiate which ones you have eaten. Do be aware that you can confuse yourself by assuming you are OK or not OK with some particular food. If you find “the” problem, don’t assume it’s the only one. Also, it might be something else that you hadn’t noticed you’d been eating at about the same time, that’s one reason you have to keep careful records, and keep refining them as you learn more. See Self-Testing for Food Allergies for a more detailed explanation on how to go about this.
Let me know how it goes and feel free to ask more questions.


10 Shawn September 8, 2014 at 23:55

Allergy guy, I was at a Wegman’s supermarket over the weekend looking for barley free products. I wa advised by someone on another sit to just buy gluten free, as you mentioned above. However, I read a label on a package of a gluten free product and the ingredients listed “barley” plain as day. By that I mean it was not hiding behind some other word, like malt. I have to assume that gluten free does not always mean barley free.
I am having a difficult time finding a list of what may be or have barley in it. Any suggestions?


11 Allergy Guy September 9, 2014 at 08:17

This is becoming a real problem. As more businesses, small and large, jump on the gluten-free band wagon, there is the risk that some of them don’t really know what it means, and think barely is a brilliant substitute for wheat or whatever. As of 5 August 2014, all foods labeled as “gluten free” in the US must meet FDA guidelines, meaning less than 20 ppm gluten (eg cross contamination allowed for but limited). You might want to contact the manufacturer if you’re feeling generous, and the FDA. What was the product?

Truly gluten-free food does not have barely in it. I guess we all have to check the ingredients of foods labeled “gluten-free”, which is frustrating!


12 Allergy Guy September 9, 2014 at 08:17

What was this product containing barely?


13 Heather February 13, 2014 at 16:53

So you note carmel color sometimes contains barley, if you do not know do you just avoid it? My youngest son was having so many problems and we found out he has eosinophilic esophagitis, and he had a barley allergy and quite a few others. The barley seems like the only one that is going to be difficult to manage. It sounds like barley is in almost everything processed. I am really trying to get my family to only eat meats, veggies and fruits now, and make our own bread, but would love to hear any information from you that has helped. He is only 9 years old so this was a total shock for him and I am trying to make it as smooth as possible. I think after researching I have found flour to make our bread but was hoping you could offer some more information on other brands. Thank you so much for you time!


14 Allergy Guy February 19, 2014 at 08:24

If in doubt, leave it out!
What you don’t know will hurt you.
If your son isn’t too sensitive, he might be ok with some barley-containing caramel colour sometimes, but if you’re just starting down the road of allergy avoidance, best to avoid all possible sources of barley until he feels better. Only when you have that health baseline, can you even consider finding out how sensitive he is, assuming that’s what you want to do.
Hope that helps.


15 Michael February 24, 2014 at 17:15

Yes there’s no way of knowing what the caramel food colouring is derived from without ringing up the producer so best avoid this (note the additive code for this is E150 (and includes E150a E150b E150c and E150d)).

Other items that can be derived from barley sugars include dextrose and sometimes glucose syrup. Notably I react to the dextrose in salami/pepperoni/other sausages and the glucose syrup in treats topped with icing including sainsburys free from cherry bakewell and their free from rich iced fruit cake slices.

Sainsburys do a good free from range for other food items though, which I buy being both barley and gluten free.

You may have discovered Doves do good alternative flour.

Barley also crops up in some stock cubes, quite potently as malt extract. I like the pouches/tubs of liquid stock the best as they have the fewest ingredients and are more natural. Most breakfast cereals seem to contain barley extract. So I go for gluten free oats cold with milk. And Genius bread. Most crisps other than ready salted and prawn cocktail contain barley extract.

Sounds like you’re doing an excellent job cooking from scratch. That is always the best option, but there are plenty of quick food options too. Microwaveable rice pouches are very handy, Look What I Found dinner pouches are quite good, pasta with pasta sauce is always a favourite, beans on genius toast with cheese on top yum yum, stir frys and most Asian food is generally good.


16 Kelly January 15, 2011 at 17:16

We found out recently that our son is allergic to barley. Can you eliminate barley from his diet without going to a gluten-free diet? I have been reading ingredients on everything we buy, but I am sometimes concerned that ingredients that list flour might contain barley as some flours contain it and other do not. How can I be sure or can I? Is there a book out there or website that deals with being barley free vs. gluten free?


17 Allergy Guy January 18, 2011 at 09:22

Certainly a gluten-free diet is also barley-free, but that does mean a lot more trouble in eliminating extra foods.

I am not aware of any good resources about barley. I’ve been wanting to expand this article, but don’t have the original research available to do so.

I can tell you that while eliminating barley may be troublesome at first, what with constantly reading ingredients etc., it will get easier as you become familiar with what products are OK and which to avoid.


18 Michael February 24, 2014 at 17:24

I’ve discovered gluten free to not always correlate with barley free. For example distilled malt vinegar is refined enough to remove the gluten but I still very much react to the barley in it.
The same for dextrose and sometimes glucose and fructose. But you can never really be sure until you eat it!


19 Lorraine December 31, 2011 at 23:45

Can anyone recommend any brands of all purpose flour or whole wheat flour that is safe for barley allergic people to consume?


20 Janet April 17, 2016 at 16:20

I found that pillsbury all purpose organic to be barley free.


21 C June 6, 2016 at 07:26

White Lily all purpose and self rising flours do not contain barley.


22 Michael October 14, 2010 at 10:41

I have an intolerance to barley. Is distilled malt vinegar safe?


23 Debbie February 21, 2010 at 08:14

Barley Allergy

I am allergic to barley. Should I stay away from wheat and gluten as well?


24 admin February 21, 2010 at 15:40

Barley allery vs. wheat and gluten

That’s a tough call, Debbie.

It depends on a few things. Do you know you are allergic to barley as a result of an allergy test, or from your own experience? Have you been tested for celiac disease?

If you find you have celiac disease, you must avoid all gluten period. There are a lot of cases of “sub-clinical” celiac, meaning people without the obvious signs of celiac, but with diseases such as lupis or osteoporosis or many others, that turn out to be caused by celiac disease.

That is a gluten issue, not an allergy per se.

If you don’t have celiac disease, then it is a matter of how seriuos the barley allergy is.

If you avoid barely due to some relatively minor symptoms, then you can decide for yourself if wheat or other members of the grass family (oats, rye, rice etc.) are also a problem for you.

If you cut out such foods for a while, you’ll be able to tell if you feel better than average. If you then start eating them again and feel worse than you have been, then you will have your answer.

Hope that helps.


25 Jimmer May 30, 2009 at 03:40

Barlet and Malt allergy

Hi. My partner is allergic to barley and malt so anything with vinegar in is potentially dodgy for her. Can you tell me wether white or spirit vinegar is ok for use in pickled foods or as a condiment? Thanks


26 lcgolas January 7, 2009 at 11:34


My problem is that, when I drink some alcohol beverage (specially beer), I get allergy after that. My whole body gone itchy. Then when I eat too much of bakery goods, i got burn mouth. I wonder is this the symptom of allergy to the yeast? If this is so, i wonder whether there are any yeast in the rice noodle?


27 admin January 8, 2009 at 19:07

Yeast allergy possible

The correlation between fermented beverages and baked goods could indicate a yeast allergy, but does not prove it.

Rice noodles are yeast free (I’ve never heard of noodles made with yeast).


28 Guest July 22, 2009 at 03:10

Yeast Allergey

See Barley Allergy. Beer is made from Barley and most baked goods contain Barley, Malt, Maltodextrin and or Fructan (all from Barley).


29 yardbird July 7, 2011 at 23:15

I have DH (Dermatitis Herpetiformis) and Celiac’s which are both related to an autoimmune allergy to glutens (specifically from wheat, barley, and rye…and possibly oats). It should be noted that glutens are proteins found in seeds of many grass plants, but here i will specifically refer to the glutens from whet, barley and rye plants. Sounds like you have the DH symptoms which include skin blistering and mouth ulcerations. You should talk with your primary physician and see a dermatologist. A test that will determine if you have DH is either response to Dapsone, or direct immunofluorescence staining (against tissue-transglutaminase and IgA) of skin tissue.

Beer is a definite hazard for both DH and celiac patients, and I would avoid it like the plague. They make gluten-free beers now from sorghum (e.g. ‘Redbridge’ from Budweiser) which don’t taste as good, but sometimes are better than nothing. Rice noodles are ok for me. Hope this helps.


30 Allergy Guy July 8, 2011 at 09:33

You’ll also find hundreds of articles on this site about celiac disease and gluten free diet on this website.


31 Anonymous June 3, 2008 at 10:06

Yeast Allergy

Is distilled vinegar okay?


32 admin June 3, 2008 at 21:14


I’ve not heard a definitive answer on that.

Most experts will say to avoid it.

If your symptoms are not too serious, you can try distilled vinegar after you have cut out all possible yeast products, and found out what “normal” is (in other words, when you feel better).

The chances are you won’t be drinking it by the glass-full, and if it does have any yeast in it, the amount will be slight.

In other words, you might get away with it, but make sure that if you are new to a yeast-free diet, you start off strict. You can always loosen up a little later and see if that’s still OK.


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