Gluten Myth Busters: Meat

If a cow eats wheat, will its meat or milk contain gluten?

Some wonder if meat contains gluten since cows ingest wheat, rye, and barley – no!

Cows and steer are designed to eat gluten containing grains.  They have four stomachs and digest these cereals much better than humans do.  The gluten proteins are completely broken down in the digestive system and are not present in the muscles of the cow or steer.   Chicken, pork, lamb and all other types of meat are also inherently gluten free.

Both grain fed and grass fed cattle meat is free of gluten.  Choosing grass fed over grain fed is a personal choice that depends on dietary preferences and product availability.  Similarly hormone, antibiotic and organic choices are within the same realm.

The same is true for milk.  Any gluten that a cow eats is broken down in digestion.   It does not pass through the bloodstream into the udder where milk is produced.

If a chicken eats wheat, will the eggs contain gluten?

Occasionally, you may see eggs that are labeled gluten free.  So long as there are no added ingredients, eggs  are always gluten free.

Eggs come from chickens, not wheat fields.   Even if the chickens lay them is nests made of wheat straw they are still gluten free.  Eggs in the USA, are cleaned and sterilized before they go to market,  which is why they must be refrigerated.  If you buy local eggs that are not washed they should stay fresh without refrigeration.  If you are washing your eggs it is a good idea only wash immediately prior to use to remove any residual dirt and muck from the farm.  Washing eggs removes the bloom (the natural protective coating) and makes the surface more porous increasing the chance of bacteria entering.