Is That Meat Made of Wheat?

Let’s imagine that you’re hosting a holiday party. You’ve got some guests on the way who are gluten intolerant, but no problem! You skipped the stuffing, you planned a gluten-free dessert. Everything’s going to be fine. Except that you didn’t check to make sure that your turkey or ham or roast chicken was …actually turkey or ham or roast chicken.


Often poultry producers inject “plumping juices” into chicken and turkey – these have gluten, casein, and msg, among other things! Make sure to ask for a GLUTEN FREE (or other allergen free) turkey. If your butcher doesn’t know what you’re talking about, go to a different butcher, ask at your local co-op, or try Whole Foods.

Not serving turkey or chicken? You’re not out of the woods yet – not all hams are gluten/dairy free! Often, ham is made of ends that have been “meat-glued” together. Make sure that your ham says it’s gluten free, or that it lists all the ingredients and those ingredients are safe. Wellshire Farms is a good brand.

What if your party is a luncheon? Sandwich meat is also often made of ends and pieces, “glued” together with either wheat or milk protein, or with transglutaminase. Applegate Farm, Wellshire Farm, Whole Foods in-house roasted turkey and roast beef, and Boar’s Head brand cold cuts are generally safe. You can always ask the deli person to find the list of ingredients for you to double check.

If you have overnight guests, don’t forget to check the breakfast meats: sausage often has gluten or casein! Double check your sausage ingredients: many use breadcrumbs or milk protein to make the production cheaper (bread crumbs are cheaper than meat!). Whole Foods butcher-made pork sausages are great, but the chicken sausages have bread crumbs, as do the pork “bangers”. Make sure to check the ingredient list!

Good quality bacon is generally safe, but black forest bacon has gluten. Good brands are Neiman Ranch, Wellshire Farms, and Whole Foods store brand, but I have not found any black forest style bacon that is gluten free. Stick to the maple or regular uncured bacon.

this post is part of our Surviving the Holidays with Food Allergies series

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