GF meats

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q: My son was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. What meats are safe for him?

Answer


All plain meats such as beef, lamb, pork, and poultry are naturally gluten free. Always read labels, especially on any type of processed meat product such as sausages, hotdogs, meatballs or meats that comes pre-seasoned with spice rubs or marinades. Avoid all meats with breading unless they are labeled gluten free. Also, be careful with deli meats that you order at the deli counter. Make sure to ask to see the ingredient label and also request that they clean the slicer and change gloves before preparing your order to avoid cross-contact with gluten.

Another important note is that labeling requirements for meats are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) does not apply to foods that fall under USDA, and they are not required to list the top allergens (wheat, milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy and sesame) like foods that are regulated under the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Which foods fall under the USDA labeling?

Meats – Beef, lamb, pork

Poultry

Egg products

Processed foods containing more than 3% raw meat or 2% cooked meat or poultry. (1,2)

What are the USDA requirements?

  • All ingredients are required to be listed on the label.
  • USDA products are not subject to FALCPA. However, they are encouraged to have allergen statements on the label.
  • USDA will follow FDA’s 20 ppm guideline for any foods that claim to be gluten-free. (1,2)

Always read labels very carefully and when in doubt contact the manufacturer.

Read more about what to look for on the label here. 

Read more on how to contact a manufacturer.

References:

  1. US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act of 2004, Questions And Answers. FDA Website. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/ucm106890.htm#q9.
  2. National Celiac Association. Gluten-Free, Off to A Fresh Start. Presentation. Updated September, 2020.

Reviewed and updated October 21, 2022.

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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