When to check for gluten in meat

For many of us on a gluten-free diet, we know about the dangers of wheat, rye, barley, and oats but pay little attention to the meat we eat assuming it is “safe”. Is it, though? Is there more to meat that meets the eye?

In this article, we go through different kinds of meat so you can have your meat and eat it too!

Unprocessed Meat:

Examples: chicken, pork, beef fresh from the market

All unprocessed meat is inherently gluten free.

Always safe, always good.

Processed Meat:

Examples:  salami, ham, or any deli plastic wrapped rolls

Processed meat often needs more investigation. These meats often contain a number of ingredients such as binders (often in the form of starches) and seasonings (derived from wheat) apart from the meat itself.

Thankfully, many brands such as Dietz and Watson, Primo, and Hormel have started labelling their products Gluten Free.

Tip:  Request that the blade of the slicer is cleaned if you buy processed meat from the deli. If possible, however, buy the pre-packaged meat (with a gluten free label).

Martinated Meat:

Examples: ready to cook teriyaki chicken, barbecue pork ribs

If you are buying meat that has already been seasoned or soaked in a marinade, you need to be very careful about ingredients. Although soy or teriyaki sauce may be listed on the package, all the actual ingredients may not be listed.  

Tip: purchase plain, unseasoned meat and marinate it at home so that you will know exactly what is on it.  Homemade marinade allows you to control ingredients and reduces any risk of cross contamination.

Pre-Cooked Meat

Examples: Rotisserie Chicken

We all how convenient and delicious a fresh cooked chicken is on a very busy day!  While most plain rotisserie chickens have not gluten containing ingredients, it is important to check ingredients on any chicken that are seasoned prior to cooking.

Tip: Check with the counter staff about what went into the seasoning for the chicken. Better yet, meal prep for the week!

Festive Eats:

Examples: ham, lamb, turkey

Most holiday meats are safe unless gluten has been added during the curing, glazing, or brining process.

There is a potential chance of gluten contamination, however, during the preparation of the meat outside the manufacturing facility.  Some importers will repackage meats in a central facility upon arrival in Singapore, before sending them out the to the local butchers or delicatessens.

Tip:  Check with the Butcher or manufacturer to check the list of ingredients. Some products, such as frozen ‘Butterball’ turkeys imported from the USA are labeled gluten free – go for those (In fact, all fresh free range turkeys are gluten free!)

Due Diligence:

There is very little to fear with meat so long as you do you homework and check the ingredients – if you are not sure, always check the manufacturer’s website or email the company directly.

Local Suppliers:

The Barbie Girls

Ryan’s Grocery

Tanglin Market Place / Cold Storage