Q: If you have celiac disease, should you not eat any product that contains vinegar?
A: Most vinegars are gluten-free; they are distilled and are made from gluten-free ingredients (e.g. grapes or apple). The only vinegar which needs to be avoided is malt vinegar. Malt vinegar is not distilled, and malt is derived from barley, which is not gluten-free. FDA guidelines for labeling vinegar are that the term “vinegar” (as well as the terms “cider vinegar” and “apple vinegar”) indicate a product made from apple juice; that the terms “wine vinegar” and “grape vinegar” indicate a product made from grape juice; and that the term “malt vinegar” means a product whose production involves malt. However, because these are “guidelines” and not requirements, the general term “vinegar” could mean malt vinegar. Therefore, on products which are not certified or labeled gluten-free, it is advisable to confirm with the manufacturer that the vinegar is not malt vinegar. If you see the term “vinegar” in the ingredients list of a product which is certified or labeled gluten-free, it is safe to consume.
Q. Is Vitamin E okay if listed as an ingredient? Doesn’t it sometimes contain gluten?
A. Vitamin E is gluten-free. Confusion can arise because it is sometimes derived from wheat germ oil. However, the oil is highly processed and is free of gluten protein.
Q. What about glucose that states it could come from wheat or corn on the ingredients label–is this safe for someone with celiac disease?
A. Glucose is gluten-free and safe for someone with celiac disease. It is a highly processed product, consisting of pure carbohydrate. Even when the source is wheat, no protein of any sort (including gluten) remains in the final product.
Q. Is wheat grass a wheat product which needs to be avoided?
A. Wheat grass is a wheat product, but it is the stem of the plant. If wheat grass is harvested before the flower head builds, it is just carbohydrate and is gluten-free. However, when the plant starts to mature, it’s a problem. It is best to avoid wheat grass unless you are certain of its gluten-free status. Products that contain wheat grass which are certified gluten-free are safe to consume.
Q. Does cleaning surfaces with bleach inactivate gluten?
A. No, it just sanitizes it. Sanitation and cleaning are not the same thing. Sanitation will make it “sterile”, whereas soap, water, and thorough cleaning are what is needed to remove gluten.