Are Canned Foods Gluten-Free?

Are canned foods gluten-free? When sharing a picture of pantry on social media many celiacs asked me why I had canned beans that didn’t say gluten-free on them. Here’s the thing, canned foods with naturally gluten-free ingredients but not gluten-free claim are celiac-safe. Let me explain…

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When are Canned Foods Gluten-Free?

When are canned food gluten-free? The answer? It depends on what kind of canned food we are talking about. I like to break canned food down in two 2 categories when talking about their safety: mixed canned food and plain canned food.

Mixed Canned Food

Mixed canned food is canned food that is a mixture of ingredients. Think soups and sauces. If they have a gluten-free claim or certification, they are automatically safe.

Mixed canned foods can also still be gluten-free without a gluten-free claim or certification if it does not have the following:

  • Obvious gluten ingredients in it (think barley, rye, oats that aren’t certified gluten-free, wheat, and spelt)
  • Suspicious ingredients (like natural flavors etc.)
  • A “contains”, “may contain” or “processed on the same equipment” allergen statement

For more on how to check a food label for gluten, click here.

Plain Canned Food

This is any canned food where it’s just the food item in it. Like canned vegetables and fruits.

It’s safe if it has a “gluten-free” certification/claim on it.

Plain canned foods can also still be gluten-free without a gluten-free claim or certification if it does not have the following:

  • Obvious gluten ingredients in it (think barley, rye, oats that aren’t certified gluten-free, wheat, and spelt)
  • Suspicious ingredients (like natural flavors etc.)
  • A “contains wheat” allergen statement

For more of a breakdown on assessing safety, complete with video simulations and practice examples, check out the Celiac Crash Course.

In Summary

Canned foods are gluten-free if they have no gluten containing ingredients. Cross-contact risk will need to be assessed per individual needs.

Often people who are just starting out with a gluten-free lifestyle stick to only buying foods that are clearly labeled gluten-free. While this helps with adapting to the lifestyle, this is usually not necessary as you build your label reading confidence and skills.

As always, if you don’t know if something is safe, say no. Additionally, a dietitian can be a great resource for determining what is right for you. We all have individual needs and while there are general recommendations, it can be helpful to tailor these recommendations to you with the help of a dietitian who specializes in celiac disease.

And if you found this helpful, check out my Celiac Label Reading Workbook that covered gluten-free label reading in detail with more practice examples!


DISCLAIMER: This post was with USA labeling in mind.

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