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Wheat and Gluten Allergy Avoidance

The Asthma Center, Allergic Disease Associates, P.C.
Professional Arts Building
205 North Broad Street, Ste 300
Philadelphia, PA 19107


A wheat-restricted diet demands that an individual avoid all wheat products. Wheat is a major grain product used in the United States. Eliminating wheat from the diet is often times difficult and does pose a significant nutritional risk. Enriched wheat products are also primary sources of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, selenium, and chromium. Food substitutions for wheat include enriched commercial grain products made from amarenth, barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, quinoa, rice, and rye. These specialty items are generally available at health food stores and through mail-order specialty health food companies like Ener-G Foods in Seattle, WA (206) 763-4901. Mr Ritt’s Bakery in South Philadelphia, PA 215-627-3034 or 1-877-677-4887; website is an additional source for wheat-free baked goods. Individuals on a wheat-avoidance diet should consult a registered dietician to ensure adequate nutrition. Access to an online nutritional service through the Food and Nutrition Information Center may also be helpful in evaluating diets for nutritional deficiencies for those on wheat-free diets. Products that are labeled "Kosher for Passover" (A seasonal Jewish holiday from late March-April) provides food that are free of wheat products.

Ingredient Terms that Indicate or May indicate the Presence of Wheat
The following is a partial list of terms commonly used on food labels to indicate the presence of wheat. This list should be distributed to any caregiver, relatives, or food service workers who will be providing food to the wheat allergic individual. Individuals on wheat-avoidance diets should avoid all foods with these ingredients.

Ingredient Terms that INDICATE the Presence of Wheat

  • Bran
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Bulgar
  • Cereal Extract
  • Couscous
  • Cracker Meal
  • Durum, durum flour
  • Enriched Flour
  • Farina
  • Gluten
  • Graham Flour
  • High Gluten Flour
  • High Protein Flour
  • Kamut
  • Seitan
  • Semolina
  • Soft Wheat Flour
  • Spelt
  • Vital Gluten
  • Wheat (bran, germ, gluten, malt, starch)
  • Whole grain berries
  • Whole wheat flour

Ingredient Terms that MAY INDICATE the Presence of Wheat

  • Gelatinized starch
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Modified Starch
  • Natural Flavoring
  • Soy sauce
  • Starch
  • Vegetable Gum
  • Vegetable Starch

Hidden Sources of Wheat
Wheat proteins are often found in baked goods and are used as thickeners as well as flavorings. Many alternative grain products may use small amounts of wheat to achieve the specialized textures and flavors that are attributable to wheat. Wheat proteins are also used as thickeners and flavors in sauces and meats. In addition, Spelt and Kamut are ancient wheat grains promoted as wheat substitutes that have provoked reaction in what-allergic individuals and should be avoided. There have also been reports of allergic reactions to wheat protein found in shampoos. Labels for cosmetics and bath products should be read because these products may contain food proteins. The possibility of allergic reaction to wheat through kissing has also been reported and is usually not thought of by people with wheat allergies. Teenagers and young adults may be particularly at risk during dating to this hidden contact source. Individuals of any age, though, should be aware of this vulnerability. Pet food may also contain protein from wheat. For children and adults extremely sensitive to wheat, even trace amounts of wheat exposure from animal saliva may cause a reaction.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is a very helpful lay organization based in Fairfax, Virginia that publishes a number of resources for individuals with food allergies including a bi-monthly newsletter called Food Allergy News. Cookbooks and videos are also available. FAAN also provides to members a convenient, laminated wallet-sized chart that delineates how to read a food label for a wheat-free diet. Their phone number is 1-800-929-4040, and their website is

What Consumers Can do to Help Identify Allergens
If a consumer finds that a product causes a reaction, besides discussing it with your physician at the Asthma Center, please notify the manufacturer and notify the local FDA consumer complaint coordinator (The following provides a list of phone numbers in the US)

In addition, consumers should continue to provide input about concerns and suggestions for allergen labeling issues by emailing comments to and noting Docket OOP-1322.

Printed with permission from The Asthma Center, copyright 2008