Are agar, pectin and spices celiac safe ingredients?

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q: Are agar, pectin and spices celiac safe ingredients? I recently saw these ingredients listed on a food item and wasn't sure if they were safe or not.


Agar or agar-agar is made from the cell walls of red algae and is naturally gluten free. Pectin is also naturally gluten free. It is a type of polysaccharide (carbohydrate) usually derived from the cell walls of citrus fruits, but can also be derived from other fruits such as pears, apples, guavas, plums, and gooseberries. Both ingredients should be safe for people with celiac disease.

In terms of spices, pure spices should be naturally gluten free and if a label lists “spice” as an ingredient that should be fine. However, note that some spice mixes have additives. Spice mixes sometimes contain wheat flour or wheat starch. Read labels carefully. For products that are not labeled gluten free look out for these gluten-containing ingredients on the label:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Malt
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Oats

Yeast extract also sometimes contains gluten, make sure to check the origin of yeast extract in items not labeled gluten-free.

Read more about yeast extract:

Read more about confusing ingredients here:


Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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