Is Ketchup Gluten-Free?


Ketchup is one of the most popular condiments in the world and a staple in American households.

Whether it’s spread on your favorite sandwich or served alongside a burger and fries, you’re sure to find the bright red condiment in most restaurants and diners.

Still, you may wonder whether it fits a gluten-free lifestyle.

This article takes a closer look at ketchup to determine whether it’s safe for people who follow a gluten-free diet.

The original Chinese ketchup recipe, which is nothing like the tomato-based condiment you’re probably familiar with, mixed pickled fish with spices.

Nowadays, ketchup is a sweet and tangy sauce made of tomatoes, water, vinegar, sugar, and salt.

Additionally, a blend of seasonings and spices are added into the mix.

Though every brand has its own unique blend of spices, the most commonly used ones include onions, garlic, cloves, and coriander.

Summary

Ketchup is a tomato-based condiment made by mixing tomatoes with water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices.

Gluten is a group of proteins found in certain cereals, including wheat, barley, and rye. It’s responsible for giving elasticity to baked goods (1).

Most ketchup is naturally gluten-free, as none of these grains are used in its preparation, and as long as it’s made with distilled vinegar (2).

However, gluten may be occasionally found in dressings and sauces, including ketchup, when stabilizing agents are used to give them a thicker consistency (1).

Additionally, there’s a risk of contamination if ketchup is produced in a facility that manufactures other gluten-containing products (1, 3).

Summary

Ketchup is naturally gluten-free as long as it’s made with distilled vinegar. However, the use of stabilizing agents or the production of other glutenous foods may contaminate it.

Whether you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or are avoiding gluten for other reasons, the best way to ensure you’re buying gluten-free ketchup is to choose one that’s labeled “gluten-free,” “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” or “without gluten.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), any foods with these labels must contain fewer than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten — an amount considered safe and well tolerated by people who can’t digest gluten (2, 3).

It also happens to be the lowest level that can be reliably detected in foods (2).

Still, labeling a product as gluten-free is voluntary. Thus, the label may not be found in naturally gluten-free products, as is the case with most ketchup.

Another way to check whether your ketchup is gluten-free is to look at the ingredients and allergen claims. Manufacturers are required to state on the label whether a product contains any major food allergens, including wheat or wheat-derived ingredients (4).

Here’s a list of popular ketchup brands that are safe for people avoiding gluten:

  • Heinz
  • Annie’s
  • French’s
  • Hellman’s
  • Organicville
  • Sir Kensington’s
  • Walden Farms
  • Tessemae’s
  • Fody Foods
  • McDonald’s
  • Trader Joe’s

Nevertheless, some of these brands also produce other glutenous products, including gluten-containing ketchup, so make sure to check the labels.

Summary

Look for a gluten-free label on your ketchup or read the ingredient list and allergen claims to ensure it’s safe to eat while on a gluten-free diet.

Ketchup doesn’t contain wheat, barley, or rye. As such, it’s a naturally gluten-free product.

However, some brands may use wheat-derived vinegar or produce their ketchup in a facility that manufactures other gluten-containing foods, which may contaminate it.

Look for a gluten-free label or check the ingredient list and allergen claims to make sure your favorite ketchup is gluten-free.

Note that although ketchup may be free of gluten, it’s often high in added sugars and should, therefore, be consumed in moderation.



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