Spices & Herbs
On their own, pure spices, herbs and seeds do not naturally contain gluten.
It is when two or more spices/herbs are combined together to create blends, that some manufacturers can add anti-caking ingredients.
Silicon dioxide, calcium silicate or sodium aluminum silica can be added to prevent the mixture from clumping. However cornstarch is more commonly used in North America, and most importantly any additional ingredient added to the herbs/spices must be clearly identified on the label – specifically wheat or gluten.
Fillers can sometimes be added by manufacturers to extend their products. Gluten is rarely, if ever used for this purpose anymore, however it is something to keep in mind when buying spices.
For example, when you buy black pepper you expect the ingredient label to just read peppercorns. However in lower quality black pepper, some manufacturers actually use ground buckwheat hulls or rice as fillers to create a cheaper product. So even when you are buying something as simple as plain black pepper, read the label just to be sure you’re getting the best possible quality product for your money.
Seasonings sold in small packages and bottles are a blend of spices and herbs, along with other flavorings such as; salt, sugar, milk powder, flours, or starches. Modified food starch used to be a concern when seen on the label, as it can be made with gluten. However with the new labeling laws in North America, any gluten-based product that was used to make the seasoning mix must be indicated on the label.
It’s pretty good guess that a package of powdered gravy mix might contain gluten, so you know to read the label to be sure. But until you are familiar with the brands and their specific products that are gluten free, you still need to be diligent about reading the label. A simple looking Italian seasoning may look like it just contains pure herbs and spices, but until your read the label you don’t know for sure.
Seasonings Within Foods
In the U.S., if a seasoning blend that contained gluten was used in to make another product (eg. pre-marinated chicken breast), you would see this on that products ingredient label: “seasoning (wheat flour or wheat starch)” or if just “seasoning” was listed, then at the end of the ingredient list it would state; “Contains Wheat”.
However in Canada, currently manufacturers are not required by law to declare any allergens that may be present in any seasoning blend they used to produce another food product. Although with the greater awareness in food allergies, many companies are voluntarily listing any allergens their foods contain, like gluten.
From the Manufacturers…
McCormick (includes Clubhouse, Lawry’s, Old Bay, Zatarain’s): “If gluten is in the product, it is called out in bold letters, within the ingredient statement. We follow good manufacturing practices at our plants. McCormick employees are trained in the importance of correct labeling and the necessity of performing thorough equipment wash-downs to eliminate cross-contact of ingredients.”
Click HERE for a list of McCormick brand gluten free products. Click HERE for their other brands of gluten free products.
Epicure (home party company): “Our products feature clean, wholesome ingredients and are gluten free. We strive to be sodium and sugar-conscious, and to keep our products as true to nature as possible. This means no added MSG, fillers, or artificial flavors or colors.”
Click HERE for a list of their gluten free products.
Fiesta Spices: Click HERE for a list of their gluten free products.
If you know of any other companies that have gluten free spice/seasoning products, please leave us a comment with the link to their website and we will add them to our list!