Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat (which includes; spelt, kamut, khorasan, einkorn, faro, and emmer), rye, triticale (a rye/wheat hybrid), and barley. Under no circumstance should people on a gluten free diet eat any of the above grains, including barley.
Foods Made From Barley
The following foods are made from barley, or have a high likelihood of containing barley, so be sure to read the ingredient label:
- Beer (although many gluten free options available now)
- Whisky (although safe to consume due to the distillation process)
- Mugicha (Asian beverage)
- Canned or pre-made soups and stews
- Fructan (a sweetener)
- Coffee substitutes/ coffee flavoured powdered instant beverage
Another product you need to be aware of that is made from barley, is malt.
Malt is made using barley grains. The dried grains are soaked until germination begins, at which point they are dried again. This process, known as ‘malting’, allows the enzymes within the barley to turn the starches into sugars (maltose). These sugars are further refined into malt syrup and malt extract, which can be added to a number of edible products and is used to enhance flavor.
Foods Containing Malt
Foods that always contain malt, and therefore are never safe to consume are:
- Malt vinegar
- Candy - Maltesers, Whoppers
- Flavored/chocolate beverage mixes - Horlicks, Ovaltine, Milo
Foods that can contain malt, so be sure to check the label, are:
- Beer (many gluten free beers available now on the market)
- Imitation crab meat
- Chocolate milkshakes (some chocolate syrups can contain malt)
- Brown rice syrup (malt can be added to some brands)
- Dry cereal
- Baked Foods (including some types of bagels, pretzels, crackers, cookies, chocolate based foods)
- Soy Milk
- Ice Cream
- Pharmaceuticals (including some vitamins brands)
A form of malt, maltodextrin, can be made from barley or wheat, as well as corn, potato, or rice.
So how do you know if maltodextrin is made from one of these safe ingredients, or from a gluten containing grain like barley or wheat?
With the new US Food Labeling laws, if maltodextrin is made from wheat it must state that on the product label - "wheat maltodextrin". Maltodextrin made in the US and Canada is always made from potatoes or corn, however in other parts of the world it can still be made with barley or wheat. Having said that, because maltodextrin is such a highly processed ingredient, its protein is ultimately removed, rendering it gluten free.
Reading Labels – Words to Watch Out For:
Barley: Wikipedia, Lucash
Malt Syrup:Wikipedia, Glane23