Checking if supplements are gluten-free

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN

Q: Do I need to check that my supplements are gluten-free?

Answer


Yes, you should always check the gluten-free (GF) status of anything you are ingesting and that includes supplements. Gluten may be used as a binder or filler in supplements. Always make sure that the supplement is labeled GF. Supplements that are labeled GF have to contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten per the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The most efficient way to find out if a product is gluten-free is to read the ingredient label carefully. If it is not clear if the product is gluten-free, we recommend to contact the manufacturer directly.

Notes About Labeling:

  • Gluten-free labeling is voluntary. Food manufacturers are not required to indicate all sources of gluten on the label, or indicate gluten-free status.
  • However, if the product does state that it is GF, it has to contain less than 20 ppm of gluten including cross-contact. The concentration of 20 ppm is considered safe for those with celiac disease.
  • The FDA is not mandating the use of a specific gluten-free label, so gluten-free labeling can vary from product to product. 1

Supplements also fall under the Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) and are required to disclose the top 8 allergens:

  1. Wheat
  2. Milk
  3. Eggs
  4. Peanuts
  5. Tree nuts
  6. Fish
  7. Shellfish
  8. Soy

Note that barley and rye are not included in the list of allergens requiring disclosure.

An allergen will be listed in one of two ways:

  • In a contains statement following the ingredient listing Example: CONTAINS WHEAT
  • or in parenthesis following the ingredient containing the allergen within the ingredient listing. Example: Enriched flour (wheat) 2

Remember to always ask your doctor/healthcare professional before starting a new supplement as it could have interactions with other medications you are taking or worsen other health conditions.

Keep in mind that medications fall under different labeling requirements than supplements, to find out more about gluten and medications look here:

https://nationalceliac.org/celiac-disease-questions/do-i-need-to-check-that-my-medication-is-gluten-free/

To find out more about product research look here:

https://nationalceliac.org/celiac-disease-questions/list-of-gf-foods/

References:

  1. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Questions & Answers: Gluten-Free Food Labeling Final Rule. FDA Website: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/questions-and-answers-gluten-free-food-labeling-final-rule. Accessed on February 29, 2020.
  2. US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Labeling Act of 2004, Questions And Answers. FDA Website. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/ucm106890.htm#q9. Published December 2, 2005. Updated July 18, 2006. Accessed February 29, 2020.

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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