Is Cheese Gluten-Free? It can be, but be Careful


There are very few people in this world who don’t like cheese. In fact, here in America, cheese is probably one of the most widely consumed foods from coast to coast.

You can find it in so many different types of dishes. However, when you start the gluten-free diet, that all-important arises: is it gluten-free?

Most of the time, the cheese you buy at the grocery store will be intrinsically gluten-free. Cheese is typically made by mixing rennet, milk and bacteria (to cause fermentation). Certain store brands will add salt, preservatives, herbs and spices for flavoring.

If cheese contains the above number of added ingredients, it increases your risk of gluten cross-contamination. But, fortunately, most types of cheese fall way below the standard of “gluten-free” which is 20 parts per million, so, if you don’t have Celiac, you should be perfectly safe eating them. Just make sure to check the label in order to confirm that there are not gluten-based ingredients in the cheese.

Also, be sure to purchase cheese that has been sliced and packaged by the manufacturer. Buying block cheese and having it sliced at the deli greatly increases your risk of gluten cross-contamination. You can tell that cheese has been sliced and repackaged by the clear bag and the stick on label. Buying cheese that has been prepared directly by the manufacturer such as Kraft or Sargento.

One kind of cheese that has been invented recently and is quickly gaining popularity is “beer-washed” cheese. Of course, beer contains gluten, so you should definitely steer clear of any type of cheese that is labeled “beer washed.” Stick with the gourmet cheeses instead. There are still lots of varieties of gourmet cheese available in the grocery stores.

Blue cheese or Roquefort, on the other hand, usually contains rye, which is one of the three main gluten-based ingredients. Still, it is such a small amount that you should be fine consuming it as long as you are not highly gluten-sensitive. Otherwise, if you have Celica, you are better off not buying Roquefort or Blue Cheese.

Most people think that shredded cheese contains gluten as an anti-clumping ingredient. Actually though, most shredded cheeses use gluten-free substances like potato starch in order to keep it from clumping. And, if a gluten substance is ever used in a package of shredded cheese, it will be specifically acknowledged on the label.

Really, cheese is one of the safest foods for a gluten-free person to consume, since it is basically gluten-free and rarely manufactured in a highly “glutanized” facility. So, you can continue to enjoy your cheese in main courses, lunches and side dishes. Gluten-free eating will not deprive you of the foods you love.

Image courtesy julesjulesjules m

Tricia Fecteau

I have tried to share what I have learned years in my book called "Gluten-Free with Love" available on Amazon and on my website. I want to help you in your journey to good health.