- Sugar can be used as a sweetener in a wide range of foods and drinks
- Sugar in its natural, pure form is gluten-free
- Some types of sugar may have gluten due to cross-contamination
- You should choose sugar that’s labeled gluten free if you have gluten intolerance
Sugar is widely used in baking, cooking and sweetening beverages. Consumers would like to know whether sugar is gluten-free or not.
Sugar in its natural, pure form is gluten-free. If you follow a gluten-free diet, then sugar should be safe to consume. There’s a possibility of gluten cross-contamination. Ensure you only buy labeled gluten-free sugar if you are on a gluten-free diet.
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Does Sugar Have Gluten?
Sugar is one of the most common consumer foods, and is a university product.
It is added to many processed foods and drinks as a sweetener. Sugar comes in many forms, including granulated sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup.
When you consume sugar, your body breaks it down into glucose, which is used by your cells for energy. Consuming too much sugar can lead to health problems, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
If you're someone who is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease, you're probably always on the lookout for gluten-free foods. You must follow a gluten free diet in order to manage your symptoms.
While it's easy to identify foods that contain gluten, such as bread and pasta, it can be more challenging to determine if other foods, like sugar, are gluten-free.
Is sugar gluten-free? Is sugar naturally gluten free? Yes, plain sugar is gluten-free. Sugar is made from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are both gluten-free. Some types of sugar, like icing sugar or confectioners' sugar, may contain gluten due to the addition of anti-caking agents.
It’s worth mentioning that while sugar itself is gluten-free, many processed foods that contain sugar may not be. Always read the label carefully to ensure that the food you're consuming is gluten-free, and if you're unsure, contact the manufacturer for clarification.
When is Sugar Not Gluten Free?
Sugar, in its natural form, is gluten-free and safe for those on a gluten-free diet. For example, there are many brands of brown sugar, gluten free and dark brown sugar too.
Sugar may be exposed to gluten in various situations, making it unsafe for individuals with gluten-related issues. Artificial sweeteners can play a big role in this.
While sugar may not have any gluten-containing additives, it may be processed in the same facilities that handle gluten grains like barley and wheat. That sugar will have traces of gluten.
Grocery stores and supermarkets are yet another place where gluten cross-contamination for sugar can occur. In some stores, the majority of food products like sugar and flour are positioned together, for easier and more convenient shopping for buyers.
The problem is that some stray particles may land on the sugar. If you buy that sugar and handle it without washing your hands, there’s a high possibility of gluten cross-contamination.
In a café or restaurant, sugar may be stored in a container that was previously used to store gluten-containing products like wheat flour.
The spoons used to scoop the sugar may also be used for gluten-containing substances, again leading to gluten cross-contamination.
Can You Take Sugar If You Have Celiac Disease?
Pure, natural sugar is gluten-free. It’s made using sugar cane, which is naturally gluten-free. If you have celiac disease, then sugar should be safe for you to consume and enjoy.
We’ve also identified a couple of scenarios whereby sugar may be exposed to gluten, leading to cross-contamination. You need to be extra careful whenever you are buying sugar.
In case you are eating out and you want to add sugar to your beverage, you should enquire with the server or waiter about any possible gluten cross-contamination. In case you still have doubts, then you should ask for sugar packets.
How to Make Sure Your Sugar is Gluten Free
Sugar is made using gluten-free ingredients, meaning individuals with gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, gluten intolerance and any other gluten-related diseases should consume it without experiencing any adverse reactions.
The risk of gluten cross-contamination is always there. Here are some tips to make sure your sugar doesn’t have any gluten.
Watch Out for the Storage Location
There’s a possibility of sugar being cross-contaminated with gluten if it’s stored next to gluten-containing products at the store.
If a bag of wheat flour stored next to sugar were to break and leak, it would land on the sugar’s packaging.
From there, gluten will find its way into the sugar, making it unsafe for those on a gluten free diet.
Whenever you are buying sugar, you should go for a package that isn’t placed next to gluten-containing products.
Check for a Gluten-Free Label
A gluten-free label on the product’s packaging is another way to ensure the sugar you are getting is going to be gluten free.
While sugar doesn’t have any gluten-containing ingredients, the gluten free label is a confirmation that the product is safe for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Some companies are keen on labeling their sugar as gluten free. For example, Walmart offers powdered sugar gluten free. Similarly, gluten free brown sugar is not difficult to find.
Wipe Down Sugar Before Handling
Some shoppers will remove sugar from the shelves and return it, after deciding against buying it. If such a shopper had also handled gluten-containing products, there will be traces of gluten on the package.
Unfortunately, such traces won’t be visible. Once you open the sugar, you may end up contaminating it with the gluten on the packaging.
Before you open or handle sugar, you should ensure you wipe it down to get rid of any traces of gluten that may be on the packaging.
Only Buy Pure, Plain Sugar
Some types of sugar may have gluten-containing additives, meaning it’s not safe for individuals with gluten-related issues.
Only buy pure, natural and plain sugar, made from beets or sugar cane. The product’s packaging will have information indicating whether there are any additives.
Top Gluten-Free Sugar Brands
Buying your sugar from a gluten-free sugar brand is the only way you can be sure the sugar won’t have any traces of gluten if you are on a gluten-free diet.
Here are some gluten-free sugar brands to consider.
Wholesome is one of the leading manufacturers of organic food products, including sugar. Its premium quality cane sugar is gluten-free, certified USDA organic, kosher and vegan. You can use it as a sweetener in all your cooking and baking recipes.
Anthony’s is also another option for anyone in the market for gluten-free sugar brands. Its sugar is tested and verified gluten-free.
The sugar from this brand is also certified organic, meaning you don’t have to worry about ingesting pesticides.
Relative Foods has a vast range of organic, gluten-free food products. Organic cane sugar is one of its best-selling products. This sugar is made from organic can juice. It’s gluten-free certified, vegan and allergen-free.
According to the manufacturer, its sugar is rich in taste and light in color. It’s available in several bag sizes.
Natural Earth Products
Natural Earth Products sells a wide range of organic sweeteners. It’s organic light brown sugar is one of its most popular products. It’s non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, certified organic and fat-free.
You can use this sugar for your gluten-free spiced cakes, cookies, crumble toppings and shortbread, just to name a few.
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