10 Surprising Items that Contain Gluten

10 Surprising Item that Containing Gluten

For those of us following a strict gluten free diet, reading food labels is a part of life. Gluten is something we think about often, especially before we put anything into our mouths. Typically when you think of gluten being used in items, you think of it as a “glue” that holds food together or a sticky binding substance. The first items that come to mind are bread and pasta, since they have that elasticity texture.

Sorry to tell you, gluten is found in many items that may shock you! Manufacturers often add gluten to products as a stabilizer and thickener. You may be surprised to learn that many of these products, some non-food, contain hidden sources of gluten.

10 Surprising Items that Contain Gluten:

Imitation Seafood: Often times imitation crab you may find in sushi contains fillers made from wheat.

Licorice: Many brands of licorice contain wheat, such as Twizzlers.

Beauty Products: Even though you’re not ingesting beauty products, some products such as lipstick can easily enter your mouth. Many beauty products contain gluten in the form of wheat germ oil or hydrolyzed wheat protein. Hydrolyzed gluten is used to make emulsifiers and stabilizers. Ingredients containing gluten in beauty products are listed under a variety of names. To see specific ingredients to avoid, click here!

Stamp and envelope adhesive: This one is up for debate. Some say they contain gluten as a “glue” for the adhesive, and others say the glue is made out of corn. My feeling is licking envelopes is gross anyway, and I’d rather proceed on the side of caution, so I don’t lick them! 

Play-Doh: Wheat flour is a main ingredient of Play-Doh. Even though you can’t absorb gluten through your skin, many children place their hands and toys in their mouths, which can cause contamination.

Medication: Some medications contain gluten-based filler ingredients. These ingredients are often added to the active drug, so many pharmaceutical companies won’t list this on the bottle. It’s important you discuss the ingredients with your pharmacist or call the pharmaceutical company directly. It’s recommended that you do this each time you get a new medication because pharmaceutical companies often change the inactive ingredients without warning. Generic drugs are more likely to contain gluten.

Vitamins and Supplements: As with medication, gluten may be used in vitamins and supplements as a binding agent.

Pet Food: Many brands of dog food, cat food (and kitty litter!) and fish food contain gluten. If you touch the food and then forget to wash your hands or if your pet licks you after eating, you could be getting contaminated.

Communion Wafers: Communion wafers are traditionally made from wheat, but now you can find some that are gluten free such as these.

Spices and Seasonings: In their pure form, spices and seasonings should be safe. However, be aware of spices with “declumping agents” as these often contain gluten. To see a complete list of gluten free seasonings click here.

As always, make sure you read labels and contact the manufacturer if you’re unsure. Also, when in doubt… go without!


  • Which item on this list surprises you the most?


    • msmodify says:

      I know I was shocked to learn about many of these on the list! When I used to work with small kiddos, Play-doh was something I had to be aware of and constantly wash my hands after!

    • msmodify says:

      It’s crazy how many thing have gluten in it! It was so overwhelming when I was first diagnosed with celiac. Thanks for reading! 🙂

    • msmodify says:

      Ya I think I was most shocked about that too. Every time I found out something else had gluten, I would get more overwhelmed!

  1. Kristy from Southern In Law says:

    One thing that caught me by surprise was sea salt! Especially those in a grinder as they’re often cross contaminated with gluten as the companies often make gluten products as well.

    Yesterday I was surprised to find a regular cheddar cheese block that contained gluten – and here I was thinking most plain cheeses were fine!

  2. Jacquie says:

    One time I had gotten glutened and couldn’t figure out what it was. I typically get a rash on my elbows that is extremely itchy. It would not go away. One day in the shower my husband decided to use one of the products I had sitting there. It was an exfoliating scrub. He happened to look at the ingredients and noticed it had wheat in it!! That was it!! I had a matching lotion too. I never would have given it a second thought!!

    • msmodify says:

      Are you allergic to gluten or have DH (the skin condition that sometimes goes along with celiac)? Typically they say if you have celiac disease gluten doesn’t get absorbed through the skin, but I always try to find gluten free options for personal care products because they so easily can end up in my mouth without realizing it! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Paula says:

    I had an eye infection / pink eye bought some over the counter drops instead of going to the Dr’s I was getting super sick, realized it contained wheat who would have thought

  4. Cindy says:

    I’m shocked about the comment, “gluten can’t enter thru the skin” I have to watch what soap I use bc I break out easily when I use gluten containing soap. 🙁

  5. Sheila Wright says:

    The Catholic Church does not allow gluten free hosts.
    It must contain a certain percentage of wheat. My priest suggests using the Precious Blood of Christ in your own cup that is provided by the church and not to be shared with others because of cross contamination.
    The Benedictine Nuns provide these Vatican approved Hosts. It’s the only place I know of that offer LOW GLUTEN Hosts. My husband can’t have even a trace of gluten so he needs to take from the authorized cup ONLY.

    • Carrie says:

      I’m the only one in my parish, so far, that’s gluten free. They order me the low gluten ones. It’s not perfect but I’m only allergic to gluten and don’t have Celiac or anything quite as serious.

  6. Laura says:

    Don’t forget the paper straws. Omg Disney kills me with the paper straws. I have to keep some reusable or plastic ones with me. The glue in the straw is a trigger.

  7. Judy says:

    Don’t forget soy sauce. Chinese food. I would get rice noodles and teriyaki chicken. Thought it was msg. But then I realized the soy sauce was the problem. Headache and stomach problems not worth it

  8. Dan kallevig says:

    I’ve been celiac now a couple of years Kitchen. Is not gluten free, I’m the only celiac in home. Really hard! Thanks for the info.

  9. Frances Sauers says:

    Fran Sauers says: I have celiac disease and I get the skin rashes along with it. I had celiac since 2008 and it was very hard for me. So I make my own soups, breads, desserts. If anyone interested in shampoo, dove and patene are gluten free. be safe with the gluten products.

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