Are White Vinegar and Soy Sauce Gluten-free?
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Nov 19 2009

Are White Vinegar and Soy Sauce Gluten-free?

Once the subject of debate in the gluten-free community, it has now been proven that distilled vinegars are absolutely gluten-free. That includes white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar – ALL distilled vinegars are safe for those on the gluten-free diet. However, malt vinegar, which is generally made from the gluten grain barley, is not distilled and therefore it is not gluten-free.

Recently at a gluten-free function I met someone who told me that no vinegar was gluten-free except for apple cider vinegar. The person read that on the internet, of course. As we all know, the internet can offer a wealth of information on any given subject. But there are no internet police out there making sure that misinformation is not being spread around cyberspace. That is why you can’t believe everything you read online. Even though I know I do my homework when it comes to gluten-free ingredients and want to help others learn the intricacies of this diet, I still suggest everyone buy Shelley Case’s book, just so they can benefit from the wealth of information in it. Personally, I think Shelley’s book should be required reading for anyone on the gluten-free diet for health reasons. 

It makes no sense to me whatsoever why people choose to believe others who don’t seem to do their own research about something as important as their medically prescribed diet. Instead, they trust misinformation and worse – they spread that bad information to other unsuspecting people. It’s a vicious cycle and it seems never ending.

Regarding soy sauce, the majority of brands are made with wheat. There is gluten in the finished product so it is not considered safe for those on the gluten-free diet for health reasons. It is not uncommon to find a well meaning owner of a health food store report that wheat based soy sauces are gluten-free. In fact, they are not considered so by people who have investigated this issue.

Luckily, there are several brands of gluten-free soy sauce including LaChoy, which is not marked gluten-free.  LaChoy is a ConAgra product so it is not marked gluten-free as they are behind the times on the gluten-free issue. San-J makes two gluten and wheat-free Tamari brand soy sauces. Keep in mind they also make serveral wheat based soy sauces so you must read the label – the wheat free products they offer are gluten-free.

The WalMart brand of soy sauce ‘Great Value’ was at one time was labeled gluten-free so it likely still is. Please read the label before purchasing that or any other brand of soy sauce. Minimus.biz sells individual packets of Kari-Out soy sauce which is gluten-free. Many people like to take those packets to Sushi places. Most restaurants use Kikkoman soy sauce which contains gluten and therefore unsafe for those on the gluten -free diet.

Have a question about the gluten-free diet which we haven’t covered yet?  You can now submit your questions here! (Note: All medical questions should be directed to your physician)

Article Written by:

Tiffany is considered a gluten-free advocate as well as the most discriminating gluten-free diner around. Her goal is to help others learn that there is life after a celiac diagnosis. Gluten-free dining and travel are two of her favorite things to do. Tiffany is a contributing writer and the Advertising Manager at "Delight gluten free" magazine. Check out her local blog, Gluten-Free Atlanta, for tips and tricks about living gluten-free in the ATL! Follow Tiffany on Twitter!

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Comments

  1. Laurel says:

    I don’t think that all balsamic vinegars are gluten-free. Cheaper ones often have added caramel coloring, which I understand can be made from wheat. As always, label-reading!

  2. Hi Laurel – Acutally in the U.S. the caramel coloring is gf but in other countries it can contain gluten. I refer to Shelley Case’s book (which should be required reading for every U.S. and Canadian celiac) for all my gf diet facts and she researches items made in the U.S. and Canada. All vinegars are gluten-free as long as they are distilled and are NOT malt (barley) vinegar ;) Malt vinegar will always list malt as an ingredient so it’s easy to avoid.

    • Laurel says:

      I’d heard that caramel coloring made in the US was GF, which is good to hear again. If I understand the implications of that correctly, one still needs to check the ingredients and where balsamic vinegar was made. For example, I found that some balsamic vinegar I had from Trader Joe’s was made in Italy, and contained caramel coloring, so it’s GF-ness is questionable. My point is, people have to be careful and read labels/points of origin for balsamic vinegar too.

      • You are 100% correct that one should read labels of any item that is not labeled gluten-free. The Balsamic vinegar I have from Trader Joe’s contains vinegar and nothing else but I realize they carry a lot of vinegars. But even when the product is made in Italy and contains caramel coloring, if it is sold in the U.S. and contains wheat in any way (say from caramel coloring) it MUST list wheat as an ingredient. So for instance if you see a vinegar (anything except malt vinegar) and it says caramel coloring and doesn’t say wheat on it, it would be considered gluten-free. Just because some countries use wheat for caramel coloring – not every product made wtih caramel coloring has to contain wheat. Just like the U.S. imports zillions of things we put into the food supply (wheat gluten for one!), so do other countries. Italy I think is a country that uses corn for their caramel coloring anyway, but even if they didn’t, Trader Joe’s can not legally sell any item made anywhere that contains wheat and not list it on the label. Except for malt vinegar (usually made from barley), it is extremely hard to find any vinegars that are not gluten-free these days. Since I have it most every day I consider that fabulous news!

        The reason many people can’t follow this diet correctly (it took me over a year to learn all the correct info myself!) is because one almost needs a degree in food science, food manufacturing and label reading in order to do so. There are so many myths that just won’t seem to go away. They include misinformation about distilled vinegars, distilled alcohols, blue cheese, MSG, etc. ALL of those are indeed gluten-free but old incorrect internet info can’t be erased and so they live on. Many people go without items they love because they think they contain gluten when in fact they don’t. It’s really an absolute shame, in my opinion.

  3. Dawn says:

    Hi Tiffany ~ I just recently purchased a bottle of Great Value soy sauce from Walmart because they used to say Gluten Free on the bottle. Well when I got home I noticed that in the ingredients listing it now lists wheat in the sauce. So unfortunately VG brand soy sauce is no longer GF.

  4. Hi Dawn – You know, you are probably the fourth person who has told me about a GV brand of something that used to be labeled gf, not being gf anymore. Not sure what’s going on there, but I don’t shop at Walmart. At last check, they had more gf labeled items than any other retailer in North America. It’s disappointing to hear about this possible new trend of the company offering less gf labeled items. Thanks for letting our readers know about this!

  5. Angela Halstead says:

    I thought most alcoholic beverages contained gluten, except wine. Is that not correct? Thank you.

    • Angela – That is not correct. For many years grain based liquors were put on the do not consume list for people who can’t eat gluten. Eventually, food scientists started to test those beverages and found out there was no gluten left in the finished product, as long as it was distilled. The only way liquors could have gluten in them is if they are not distilled, such as wine coolers made with barley malt, or if gluten flavors are added to liquors. And you’ll be fairly hard pressed to find such beverages in the U.S. market. Plain bourbon, vodka, gin, scotch, rum, etc. are all gluten-free. Many flavored liquors are also gluten-free, but you need to check with the manufacturer on those because not all of them are gluten-free.
      Any info you might find saying grain alcohols contain gluten is outdated, Shelley Case has some information on her website about this issue as well – http://www.glutenfreediet.ca.

  6. Naomi Roskell says:

    Distilled white vinegar may still have traces of gluten, I suffer intolerance to it, regardless of whether the label says gluten-free, that simply means it falls under the limit of what authorities consider a relevant quantity. My body cannot lie…

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