Questions related to: Can I eat glucose syrup?

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Can I drink spirits?

Cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs are gluten free.

Experts agree that there is no physical way that pure distilled alcohol can contain gluten - this is because the gluten protein cannot travel through to the vapour produced by the prolonged heating in the distillation process and become part of the final alcohol product.

Distilled spirits only contain gluten if gluten containing ingredients are added after the distillation process and in this case, there is labelling legislation that ensures the product states CONTAINS wheat, barley, rye or oats on the label.

What about accidental contamination? There have been recall cases in retail over last few years.

Increase in product recalls reflects increase in product availability in retail and most product alerts relate to mislabelling rather than problems with contamination. Both prescribed and non-prescribed products have to meet regulatory standards and in fact most companies supplying to the NHS also provide retail products. Contamination risks need to be properly controlled regardless of supply chain.

Why aren’t Walkers crisps listed in the Food and Drink Guide?

Walkers cannot guarantee that any of their crisps are suitable for people following a gluten-free diet.

The law on gluten-free labelling means a strict criteria has to be met if manufacturers want to indicate the suitability of their foods for people with coeliac disease.

In order to label ‘gluten-free’ or ‘suitable for coeliacs’ products would have to ensure that they contain no more than 20 parts per million gluten. As Walkers cannot meet this requirement, they have removed their ‘suitable for coeliacs’ label. In addition, they have added an advisory statement on packs that states that the crisp products have been made in a factory where there are gluten-containing ingredients.

You can contact Walkers directly for more information by calling their careline on 0800 980 8235.

Can I drink Tetley green tea?

We have spoken to the manufacturers of Tetley tea bags following concerns about the labelling on some of their green tea bags stating that they may contain gluten.

The manufacturer has told us that there is a risk of contamination with wheat gluten during production. They have labelled these products as a precautionary measure due to a risk of contamination in the tea bag. Any trace of gluten in the tea bag will be diluted in the brewed tea, so the level of gluten in the tea you are drinking will be well within the safe level for people with coeliac disease (20 parts per million or less).

Tetley are investigating the issue and trying to remove the risk of contamination. Once this is done they plan to remove the statement from the packaging, so you may see a mixture of packs on store shelves with and without the warning.

If I can’t get gluten free food on prescription will I have to eat gluten containing foods and make myself ill?

We understand how difficult it might be to manage without prescriptions. Gluten free staple foods like bread are key products in managing the diet from both a nutritional and practical standpoint so more care will be needed.

We are trying to make it easier by providing advice for managing a gluten free diet on a budget.

Why aren’t some manufacturers or brands listed in the Guide?

We have endeavoured to increase the number of products and manufacturers listed in this year’s Food and Drink Guide by contacting over 200 manufacturers and sourcing product information from a third party, Brandbank. By changing the way we collect the information for the Guide we are pleased to list over 20,000 products. If you can’t find a particular brand in the Guide this may be because they have not provided us with information and have not provided information to Brandbank. It might also be because the product contains gluten.

If you are unsure whether you can eat a particular product you can check the label. For more information on reading labels please visit

I’m confused by the ‘very low gluten’ label. Can I eat foods labelled as this?

This covers foods containing between 21 and 100ppm gluten.

Specialist substitute products (such as breads and flour mixes) that contain a gluten reduced ingredient (gluten free wheat starch) with a gluten level above 21 and up to 100 ppm may be labelled as ‘very low gluten’. There aren’t any foods currently labelled ‘very low gluten’ in the UK.

The first law around the use of the term gluten free was published in January 2009 and introduced in January 2012. This law is based on the revised international Codex Alimentarius standard for gluten free, published in 2008.


What should I do if my local restaurant hasn’t heard about the law on gluten-free?

Give them more information about the law or pass them onto us and we can help. We have lots of information in our Food Industry Professionals section.

Why is dried yeast now listed in the Food and Drink Information Service?

Fresh yeast is naturally gluten free. We are now aware of some brands of dried yeasts that now contain wheat starch in the ingredients so they are not gluten free. We therefore now list dried yeasts in the Food & Drink Information Service that do not contain gluten.


All frequently asked questions