If you’ve recently discovered you have gluten intolerance, you may be probably asking yourself, is cream cheese gluten-free? We have the answers.
Cream cheese is gluten-free. Milk and cream are the main ingredients used to make cream cheese. Salt, cheese whey and stabilizers may also be added. But, all the ingredients used to make cream cheese are naturally-gluten free. So, it should be safe for those on a gluten-free diet.
We aim to provide people with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease with food-related information and recipes, to help them make healthier food choices. And, we offer this information via our short-form and long-form guides, created by our team of health professionals, experienced journalists and other subject-matter experts. We can, therefore, assure our readers that the information they are getting from our guides is extremely credible.
About Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a staple in many households across the country. It is a rich, versatile, and creamy product. In addition to that, it is an affordable and accessible product for the consumers.
It’s used as a spread for appetizers, bagels, breakfasts, sandwiches, and various other dishes. So, what exactly is cream cheese?
Cream cheese is a soft type of cream, usually containing mild flavor. Legend says that cheese cream was produced when a cheese maker accidentally put too much cream while making a type of European cheese. And, the result was cream cheese.
Philadelphia claims to be the original home of cheese. And, this may explain why the Philadelphia cream cheese is one of the most popular cream cheeses in the country.
However, the FDA has its own standards for cream cheeses. According to this regulatory body, for a type of cheese to be considered cream cheese, it should have a moisture content of not more than 55% as well as 33% milk fat. Also, it must be made with pasteurized milk.
With the right process, you will be able to make cream cheese at home.
Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity
John Hopkins Medicine defines celiac disease as a digestive problem that hurts the small intestine. The result is that the small intestines are not able to absorb nutrients in an optimal way.
The main causes of celiac disease are genetics and gluten. A significant number of Americans live with the condition without being aware of it, with diagnosis often coming too late.
One may experience symptoms that are similar to the symptoms for celiac disease, but show a negative test outcome for celiac disease. In such a case, then you are said to have gluten sensitivity. This is also known as gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity.
People with gluten sensitivity do not receive a lot of damage to their small intestines. However, there is still a reason to be cautious in order to avoid the development of the problem and future complications. Gluten sensitivity remains a less severe form of celiac disease.
Some conditions can make the symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity worsen. These include stress, pregnancy, physical injury, childbirth, and an infection.
Whether one is having celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity, the bottomline is that one should be careful and avoid gluten. Whereas a gluten free diet is not easy to follow, it is rewarding to people with problems with gluten.
Is Cream Cheese Gluten Free?
Gluten is a type of protein present in grains like barley, wheat, rye and oats and gluten grain products. And, if you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, then consuming gluten-containing products may lead to a severe autoimmune reaction, fatigue, skin rashes and brain fog.
Also, if you have gluten intolerance, consuming any gluten-containing ingredients or food products may leave you with a stuffy or runny nose, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and itchy eyes, just to name a few.
So, if you have any sort of gluten intolerance you should avoid foods with gluten at any cost and avoid gluten containing ingredients.
In light of this, you may be probably asking yourself, is cheese gluten free? Is Philadelphia cream cheese gluten-free? Is cream cheese gluten-free? Is cream cheese safe for people with gluten sensitivity? Can you take Philadelphia cream cheese if you have non-celiac gluten intolerance?
Before we answer the above questions, we first need to consider the ingredients used to make Philadelphia cream cheese.
Pure, unflavored cream cheese is made of a combination of cream and milk. It may also contain some additives like cheese whey, salt, and various stabilizers, to ensure it remains solid. Carrageenan and gums are the most popular stabilizers for store-bought cheese.
So, whether you buy Philadelphia cream cheese or any other brand, the main ingredients rarely change, as long as it’s pure, plain cheese.
And as you can see, all these ingredients are naturally gluten-free and you will be taking Philadelphia cream cheese gluten free products. Therefore, we can confidently say that cream cheese is cheese gluten free.
Some specific types of cheese, shredded cheese for instance, are categorized as gluten free. Similarly, many brands of cottage cheese are cottage cheese gluten free.
Consequently, we can conclude that cream cheese is safe for people with gluten intolerance and cheese is gluten free. And, you shouldn’t experience any serious issues after consuming cheese, if you fall under any of these groups.
Cheese Cream that May Have Gluten
Pure, plain cream cheese is gluten-free. And, it shouldn’t pose any issues for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance. However, some types of cream cheese out there may contain gluten.
Processed cheeses or any cream cheese labeled fat-free, low-fat or low-salt may contain gluten.
Also, any type of cream cheese with other additives besides the usual ingredients of cream, milk, salt and stabilizers may contain gluten. For instance, if modified food starch has been added to cream cheese, then that type of cheese will have gluten.
In addition, if vinegar has been added as an ingredient to Philly cream cheese, there’s a possibility that the cream cheese won’t be gluten-free, especially if it’s malt vinegar.
Furthermore, full-fat cream cheese with crackers, cheese straws, pretzels or any wheat-based products will also contain gluten. Also, shredded cheese may contain gluten.
So, whenever you are buying cheese, you need to read the labels carefully to see the ingredients used.
Some of the ingredients to watch out for in cream cheese include malt vinegar, hydrolyzed wheat protein, vegetable gum, artificial flavors and colors, powdered glucose, thickeners, emulsifiers, food starch and spice mix.
There is an assumption among many consumers that dairy free cheese is gluten free. However, not all dairy free cheese will be gluten free cheese.
If you come across any of these ingredients on the product label when buying cheese cream, you should avoid it. These ingredients contain gluten, meaning that cream cheese isn’t safe for you if you have gluten intolerance.
Cream Cheese Gluten Contamination
While natural cream cheese is considered naturally gluten-free, it may sometimes get contaminated by gluten-containing ingredients or products. This cross-contamination can happen at the factory, during transportation, in grocery stores, and at the checkout counter.
If you have serious gluten intolerance or celiac disease, this cross-contamination with gluten can cause serious adverse reactions. To this end, you should ensure you check product gluten free labels to learn more about the factory’s cross-contact or cross-contamination procedures. Such information will make it easier for you to buy gluten-free cheese.
Cream cheese contamination with gluten can also happen at home through sharing of cutlery. In light of this, if you are the only one on a gluten-free diet in your household, you should have your own cream cheese and a separate knife to minimize cross-contact.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker