IDENTIFY THE SAFER FOOD
- Corn and cornmeal
- Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, quinoa, bean, garbanzo, flax)
- Hominy (corn)
- Banana or coconut or nuts or chestnut flours
- Tubers (potato, sweet potato, mexican potato, manioc, topinambur, arrowroot, cassava)
- Fresh meats, fish, seafood and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
- Fresh eggs
- Most dairy products (unless lactose intolerance)
- Fresh Fruit
- Legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas, soybeans and Job’s Tears also known as Chinese Barley), seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed form. If you purchase dried beans, a good rinse before cooking will remove any possible cross contamination.
- Herbs and spices: All stand-alone herbs and spices are gluten-free. Whenever possible, purchase fresh varieties or grind at home. Check with manufacturers for pre-ground dried spices. McCormick and Natco are two companies that minimize any cross-contamination risk. Ginger, galangal, curry leaves, laksa leaves, fresh chilis, lemongrass basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, etc.. are all part of a gluten-free diet.
NOT ALLOWED FOOD
Avoid all food and drinks containing:
- Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley) barley coffee
- Cous cous
- Durum flour
- Graham flour
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
- Wheat, wheat bran and wheat germ
Avoid unless labelled ‘gluten-free’
In general, avoid the following foods unless they’re labelled as gluten-free or made with corn, rice, soy or other gluten-free grains:
- Baked goods: pineapple tarts, cakes, cookies, pie crusts, etc..
- Beer: (unless explicitly gluten-free) and any malt beverages
- Breads and sourdough bread: roti prata, bao, croissants, pita, naan, bagels, flatbreads, cornbread, potato bread, rolls, croutons, flour tortillas, panko, breadcrumbs
- Breakfast Foods: pancakes, waffles, toast, crepes, bagels, cereal, Milo and biscuits.
- Brewer’s yeast
- Candies (all) and Cookies
- Cappuccinos or hot chocolate (chocolate drink powders may contain wheat starch)
- Cereals & Granola: always check ingredients. Malt extract/flavoring, oats and wheat are all common ingredients.
- Crackers and croutons: pretzels, goldfish, graham crackers, table crackers, water crackers
- Food additives, such as malt flavoring, modified food starch and others
- French fries
- Imitation meat or seafood
- Noodles: ramen udon, soba (most are made with a combination of wheat and buckwheat flour), spaghetti, and egg noodles.
- Pasta and pizza and pastries (muffins, donuts, croissants, et..)
- Processed luncheon meats
- Sauces: salad dressings (including balsamic vinegar), soy sauce oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, cream sauces made with a roux, any gravy using wheat flour as a thickener
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
- Self-basting poultry
- Soups and soup bases
- Stock cubes or powder
- Vegetables in sauce or coated with not allowed flour
- Wheat starch
- Medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent
- Certain grains, such as oat, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production. For this reason, it is generally recommend avoid oats unless it is specifically labelled gluten-free.
Common gluten containing ingredients that should be replaced with a gluten-free version:
- Soya (soy) sauce: gluten-free soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
- Oyster sauce: gluten-free versions are available
- Teriyaki sauce: gluten-free versions are available
- Hoisin sauce: gluten-free versions are available
- Wheat pasta: rice, corn, beans, quinoa or buckwheat pasta
- Cookies, crackers, bread: gluten-free versions
- Wheat flour: gluten-free flour blend (Bob’s Red Mill One to One, Yes You Can, Orgran, etc. are all common brands available in Singapore)
- Beer: gluten-free beer. Wine and distilled spirits are gluten-free (beware of flavorings)
READING FOOD LABELS
STEP 1: LOOK FOR “GLUTEN FREE” LABEL
- Gluten free symbol assure that the product contains less that 20 parts per million (PPM) of gluten from all sources, including ingredients and cross-contamination.
For people with celiac disease the level of less than 20 PPM is adequate for a long term safety and health.
- Special Certification: Special certification can be present on the product and helpful to give an added level of assurance.
STEP 2: READ THE INGREDIENTS
Look for these most common ingredients, especially in products not labelled gluten free:
- Wheat: must be declared in allergen label.
- Barley: Malt, malt extract, malt syrup and malt flavor.
- Brewer’s yeast.
- Oats: If product it is not labelled GF.
à Manufacturers are not allowed to list “ gluten free oat” in the ingredients list, but the product should be labelled GF.
OTHERS NAME FOR GLUTEN
- Atta (chapati flour)
- barley (flakes, flour, pearl)
- bread stuffing
- brewer’s yeast
- einkorn (type of wheat)
- emmer (type of wheat)
- farro/faro = spelt
- farina = flour
- graham flour
- hydrolyzed wheat protein
- malt extract
- malt syrup
- malt flavoring
- malt vinegar
- malted milk
- matzo meal
- modified wheat starch
- oat bran
- oat flour
- whole oats (unless they are from pure, uncontaminated oats)
- rye flour
- wheat bran
- wheat flour
- wheat germ
- wheat starch
SOME TRICKY INGREDIENTS
Maltodextrin: usually GF in USA because made with corn. But in other countries and sometimes also in USA, it can be made by wheat. If you are not sure about the source, please choose in products labelled GF.
Yeast extract: typically is not GF unless grown on sugar beets which are gluten-free. If you are not sure about the source, please choose in products labelled GF.
Caramel color: Usually made by corn or wheat. The product is so highly processed that generally it can be considered GF. For more precaution, choose in products labelled GF.
Natural flavoring: typically GF but sometimes they can be made using other allergens or they can be contaminated with wheat. If you are not sure about the source, please choose in products labelled GF.
Modified food starch: typically GF in USA, unless product states contains wheat. Usually it is made from corn, tapioca or potatoes. If it is made from wheat, barley or rye they have to mention it on the label. If you are not sure about the source, please choose in products labelled GF.
Wheat starch modified to remove gluten: the product is so highly processed that generally it can be considered GF. For more precaution, choose in products labelled GF.
Dextrin: typically GF in USA, unless product states contains wheat. But in other countries it can be made by wheat. If you are not sure about the source, please choose in products labelled GF.
Distilled vinegar and alcohol: Usually they are considered GF because distillation process removes all the proteins. If not sure about alcohol products, please follow this advice:
- Avoid beer unless it is specifically brewed to be gluten-free
- Avoid ciders
- Rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, gin, bourbon and other distillates are considered gluten-free, unless they are added with flavor (eg. Strawberry wodka, etc… choose always the plain version)
- Wine is typically gluten-free and safe to drink
STEP 3: GENERAL RULES
- Choose products with a short ingredients list, to check more easily if there are gluten-containing ingredients.
- If possible, purchase naturally gluten free food instead of packaged and processed foods. Remember that available processed/flavoured versions may have gluten-containing ingredients.
- Products labelled “wheat-free” are not necessarily gluten free. Remember to read all the ingredient in the list.
- Remember that regulations on gluten free vary from country to country, so sometimes a product made in USA without gluten is made from the same company in another country but with different ingredients. As a general rule, always read the ingredients list and choose in products labelled GF.
- When in doubt, purchase products that are labelled gluten free.
- Avoid products that do not list the source of dextrin, starch or flavor on the product label.
- Please always choose products labelled gluten-free and also preferably certified gluten-free by a third party.
- Products that are labelled gluten-free coming from Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States are required to follow strict protocols to be able to use a gluten-free label on products. In other countries, the regulation it is not so strict, so if in doubt, email or phone manufacturers and food producers.
STEP 4: CHECK MANUFACTURING ADVISORY STATEMENTS
NOTE: This a voluntary label that it is not required on foods.
- The absence of such a statement does not mean it is made in an allergen-free facility.
- The presence of such a statement does not mean it contains the allergen.
So what do I do?
- Whenever possible, choose naturally gluten-free grain-based products labelled gluten-free or made in dedicated facility to avoid cross-contact risk.
PREVENT CROSS CONTAMINATION
STEP 1: SEPARATE THINGS AT HOME and when DINING OUT
- It is not recommended to purchase grains from bulk bins because of the possibility for cross-contact with gluten.
- Carefully clean common surface, work tools and utensils before starting to cook.
- Do not use hard to clean equipment for both gluten-free and gluten-containing foods (for example use different cutting board or wood utensils).
- Toasters, strainers and flour sifters should not be shared.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before handling gluten-free ingredients
- If you can prepare gluten free and gluten-containing foods at different times, give the priority to gluten-free ones.
- Deep-fried foods cooked in oil also used to cook breaded products should be avoided.
- If you are using spreadable condiment in shared containers, don’t use the same knife or teaspoon for both product with and without gluten, because of the risk of contamination of the sauce.
- Wheat flour can stay airborne for long time contaminating food, surface and utensils, so please clean everything before starting to cook.
- Use two different packs of salt while cooking because most of the time you take a pinch of salt for both gluten free and non gluten free products and you may have a contamination.
- When you put bread with gluten on the table, do not place it on the tablecloth, but in a basket or plate.
- Use baking paper for baking trays, grills and pans where contamination may be present and clean at the end removing all crumbs and residuals.
- Store gluten free products (pasta, flour, etc.) in a box in a different place from those containing gluten.
- Make sure that separate fryers, pasta water, woks, toasters, steamers, pans for eggs and pancakes are available.
- Avoid loose, airborne flour in a shared bakery or pizzeria. Make sure that they have methods to separate and that they don’t prepare the products at the same time.
- Always ask questions like: How do you prevent cross-contamination with gluten in your kitchen?
GLUTEN FREE SHOPS SINGAPORE
- Sasha’s fine foods (online shop)
- Ryan’s Grocery (grocery) à good variety of bread and crackers
- Kiwi Kitcken (online shop)
- The Gluten free Singaporean (bakery)
- Supernature (shop)
- The Whole Kitcken (bakery) à good variety of bread and crackers
- com (online shop)
- Phoon Huat (baking supplies)
- The great beer experiment (Beer)
- The Organic Frog (online shop) à good variety of bread and crackers
- Cookit SG (online shop)
- Baker & Cook (bakery) à good variety of bread and crackers
- Bakening (bakery)
- Rosa Our Littlest Kitchen (ice cream)
- Smoocht (ice cream)
- Delcie’s Desserts & Cakes (cake shop)
GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS SINGAPORE
- Margarita’s Dempsey Hill
- Ocha Fresh Thai
- Entre Nous
- Kitchen by Food Rebel
- The living Café
- The Butcher’s wife
- Bread Street Kitchen