Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy is one of the most common food allergies in the United States. A wheat allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly interprets the proteins in a product containing wheat as a harmful substance. When a person with this allergy comes in contact (touching, breathing or eating) with wheat, the body produces antibodies to fight the harmful substance, and this triggers an allergic reaction.

The most common reactions include rash (atopic dermatitis), redness and swelling around the mouth, hives (urticaria), asthma, stomachache, cramping, diarrhea or vomiting, asthma, and in extreme cases anaphylaxis. Reactions can occur within minutes or several hours after consuming the allergen.

If you are allergic to wheat, maintain a wheat free diet.  Some children eventually grow out of a wheat allergy, although some people remain allergic for their entire lives. It is also possible to develop a wheat allergy later in life. If you suspect you have a wheat allergy, avoid all foods that contain wheat, and please see a board certified allergist or immunologist as soon as possible. A skin prick test or RAST can confirm the allergy. (Do not use antihistamines for 7-10 days prior to the test.)

Note – If you are nursing a baby and suspect or know the baby has a wheat allergy, do not eat any foods containing wheat. The protein is passed through breast milk. Also, consult with your pediatrician before switching formulas.

Which Foods and other Products Contain Wheat?

Wheat can be found in a number of surprising places, both food and non-food. It is commonly found in a variety of non-food products, such as Play-Doh, glue, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, craft materials, glycerin, conditioners, lotions, creams, ointments, pet food, vitamins, and more. Pharmaceuticals and vitamins are also possible sources of wheat.

Wheat flour is also often used in the manufacturing or packaging processes of food products, but is sometimes not listed as ingredients. Always read all labels for foods and personal products.  Manufacturers occasionally change recipes and manufacturing processes.

Note - Adopt the rule, “No label, no thank you!”  Read the ingredient label every time you purchase a product. The ingredients can change at anytime. When eating out at the houses of family or friends, or in a restaurant, do not eat a food if you don’t know the exact ingredients and how it was prepared.

These Ingredients Contain Wheat

These Foods Contain Wheat

  • Beer
  • Bread crumbs
  • Couscous
  • Cracker meal
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Fried chicken
  • Fried foods
  • Fritters
  • Gravies
  • Noodles
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta, udon, soba
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces
  • Spelt

Prepared, Pre-packaged and Boxed Foods – pasta, rice and stuffing mixes, commercial entrees, and combination foods, instant (dehydrated) potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and more

Baked Goods – breads, cookies, cakes, crackers, doughnuts, muffins, pastries, rolls

Breakfast Foods – pancakes, cereal, oatmeal and other hot cereals, granola, or breakfast bars, waffles

Snack Foods – crackers, pretzels, snack and granola bars

Meats, Seafood and Poultry – chicken nuggets, corn dogs, meatballs, meatloaf, fish sticks

These Ingredients May or May Not Contain Wheat

Always read the ingredients on the label and check with the manufacturer to determine whether or not they are safe.

  • anti-caking ingredients
  • artificial color, flavoring
  • binders
  • bouillon or stock, liquid, cubes or powder broth, stock
  • caramel color coloring
  • curry powder (spices sometimes contain undisclosed flour to improve flow)
  • demiglace
  • dextrins
  • emulsifiers
  • excipients
  • fillers
  • flavor, flavoring
  • food starch
  • gelatinized starch
  • glucose syrup
  • gluten
  • gum
  • hydrolyzed plant protein (hpp), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (hvp)
  • leavening
  • maltodextrin
  • maltose
  • medications (consult your pharmacist)
  • miso
  • modified food starch, modified starch, food starch
  • mono and diglycerides
  • monosodium glutimate (msg) (imported may contain wheat)
  • natural flavor, flavoring
  • seasoning
  • shortening (sometimes vitamin e from wheat germ is added)
  • smoke flavoring
  • soup mixes
  • spices, spice mixes
  • stabilizers
  • starch
  • textured vegetable protein (tvp) (same as hvp)
  • thickeners
  • vanilla or other extracts
  • vegetable gum
  • vegetable shortening (possible added vitamin E from wheat germ)
  • vegetable starch
  • vitamins
  • wheat starch
  • white pepper (may contain flour to improve flow)
  • yeast, yeast extract (may be grown or dried on wheat flour)
Dairy and Non-dairy Products – cheese (starting molds may be introduced on bread crumbs), cottage cheese, cheese sauce/spread, shredded cheese – especially in restaurants, Sour cream, yogurt, non-dairy creamers, whipped topping and frozen desserts

Snack Foods – chips, crackers, pretzels, candy, chocolate, snack and granola bars, popcorn, etc.

Meats, Seafood and Poultry – fresh meats, pork, poultry and seafood, hamburger, kebabs, meatballs, sausage, commercially prepared meats, sausage, deli/luncheon meats, pressed beef, imitation crab, surimi, fish sticks, processed and prepared meats, bacon, bacon bits, chicken nuggets

Condiments, Sauces and Spreads – tomato sauce and paste, spreads, dips, mayonnaise, some salad dressings, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, dips, soy sauce, shoyu, tamari, teriyaki, Worcestershire, marinades, chili sauce, rocessed spreads, peanut butter

Jarred and Canned Foods – vegetables, fruits, tuna or other meats, sauces, gravies, soups, stews, chili, meats and poultry, stocks, broth, bouillon, pasta sauce, cheese sauce and more

Frozen Foods – vegetables, meats and poultry, dinners, entrees, desserts, casseroles, French fries

Desserts – ice creams and other frozen desserts, sauces/toppings/dips for fruit, cakes, cookies, candy, pie, fudge

Prepared, Pre-packaged and Boxed Foods – pasta, rice and stuffing mixes, commercial entrees, and combination foods, instant (dehydrated) potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and more

Baked Goods – breads, cookies, cakes, crackers, doughnuts, muffins, pastries, rolls

Breakfast Foods – pancakes, cereal, oatmeal and other hot cereals, granola, or breakfast bars, waffles

Sports and Nutrition Foods – bars, powders, drinks

Processed Meats – chicken nuggets, hot dogs, processed foods and meat, sausage, deli or luncheon meats, pepperoni, salami

Candy – hard candies, nut candies, fudge, and caramels

Beverages – fruit drink mixes, soft drinks, diet drinks, imitation milk, hot chocolate (cocoa) mix, lemonade, instant coffee, tea, malt beverages, etc.

Vegetables – any vegetables prepared with sauces or breading  

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