Understanding Gluten

What is gluten?

It’s important to understand gluten. Gluten is a protein found in the wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between rye and barley). It works as a binding agent in the manufacturing of processed foods to give the food shape. As an ingredient gluten has two sub-proteins – glutenin and gliadin, which are natural and can be extracted, concentrated and added to food and other products to add protein, texture and flavor.

Common Uses of Gluten:

Gluten is primarily used in the milling & flour industry and in bakery products. It holds bread together, helps dough rise, gives bread its unique texture and shelf-life. It is also used in certain cold cuts, fish and pasta preparations. It can be found in plant-based foods to provide high nutritional values supplementing or partially replacing animal proteins in human nutrition.

Sources of Gluten:





Varieties and Derivatives of Wheat:







•khorasan wheat (kamut)

•einkorn wheat

•wheat starch

Malt in Various Forms:

•malted barley flour

•malted milk (milkshakes)

•malt extract

•malt syrup

•malt flavoring malt vinegar

Challenging Ingredients:

•flavors and flavor enhancers

•seasoning mixes

•blended coatings

•processing aids brewer’s yeast

Surprising Sources of Gluten:

•beauty products

•bleu cheese

•bouillon cubes

•bullion and broths


•carmel color


•cold cuts

•condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise)

•french fries

•gravy / marinades

•hot chocolate

•ice cream

•imitation meat and seafood

•items labeled “wheat free”


•oats (unless certified gluten-free)


•processed meats (hot dogs)

•processed cheese

•salad dressings



•soy sauce / beverages

•veggie burgers

•vitamin supplements

A person on a gluten-free diet with celiac disease should take care in reading labels and look for food that is certified gluten-free to reduce the risk of contamination.

Disclaimer: This post is for information purposes only. Any questions or concerns regarding the information provided can be checked on the Government of Canada website here.