One of our followers on Twitter mentioned that he has friends who are gluten intolerant and are always on the lookout for new sauces that contain no gluten. I know that a lot of Dave’s products say “Gluten-Free” right on the label, but it got me to wondering if others could be gluten-free even if those magic words aren’t printed right on the bottle. So I set out on a quest to contact all of our hot sauce producers and compile a comprehensive list of gluten-free sauces. Easier said than done.
Right off the bat, a lot of producers responded that their products are gluten-free. Seems like most hot sauces contain Xanthan gum, which is commonly used as a food thickening agent and separator in salad dressings and other kinds of sauces. Xanthan gum is actually a popular ingredient in gluten-free recipes in place of gluten! At this point, things were looking good for my gluten-intolerant friends.
Some producers were unsure whether their products were gluten-free, so we discussed the ingredients together. After dissecting each agent and the facility where the sauces were produced, we determined that there was no gluten in most of their sauces although they were not certified as gluten-free. I was excited that my gluten-free product list was growing longer and longer. There were a few particular ones that listed wheat flour or other agents with gluten, such as teriyaki sauces, certain barbecue sauces, and some marinades, but those were few and far between.
Gluten-Free? Maybe So!
Then I received an email from one producer who has given a lot of thought to the gluten-free issue because his wife is gluten intolerant. He was much more cautious to put that on his label for the following reason: Although none of their sauces contain any gluten ingredients, they can’t get them certified as gluten-free because the spices come from all over the world. He said there’s just no way to continually guarantee that a spice field isn’t near a wheat field and that the wind wouldn’t blow some wheat into the spice field—Even if the amount of wheat was microscopic, it still couldn’t be certified because of that.
I thought that was really interesting information. It made me wonder about the other sauces that said they were gluten-free because they didn’t contain any ingredients with gluten, BUT they do contain spices. I’m sure that some of them can prove that their spices came from fields located far enough away from wheat fields to be certified gluten-free, but I guess I can’t really be sure about the ones that don’t have it on the label. So a lot of the green, YES rows in my gluten-free-product spreadsheet have now been turned into yellow MAYBEs. However, the super-helpful producer who told me about the possibility of wheat blowing into the spice field did add that his gluten-intolerant wife has never had any problem with eating their sauces, so those MAYBE sauces on my list may be just fine for some gluten-sensitive folks. He was mainly concerned about those who are extremely sensitive to gluten, perhaps those with Celiac’s Disease. With that in mind, I would put an “Eat at your own risk” warning on those MAYBE sauces.
Once I hear back from all of the producers, we'll add a Gluten-Free Hot Sauce category to our website so you can see which ones are gluten-free or not (or may be) for yourself. In the meantime, what have your experiences been with gluten and hot sauce? Are you or someone you know gluten intolerant? Let me know your thoughts!