Living With Food Allergies

Wheat Allergy

There are no good data about how many children have an allergy to wheat. Even so, wheat is a grain that has been reported to trigger allergy symptoms. Children with a wheat allergy must avoid wheat in all forms.

How to Read a Label for Wheat

Always read the entire ingredient label to look for the names of wheat. Wheat ingredients may be within the list of the ingredients. Or it could be listed in a “Contains: Wheat” statement beneath the list of ingredients. The federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires this.  Learn more about the U.S. food allergen labeling law.  

FALCPA requires that all packaged foods regulated by the FDA must list "wheat" clearly on the ingredient label if it contains wheat. Advisory statements such as “may contain wheat” or “made in a facility with wheat” are voluntary. Advisory statements are not required by any federal labeling law. Discuss with your doctor if you may eat products with these labels or if you should avoid them. 

Did you know that bulgur, malt, and seitan all contain wheat? Wheat may be an added ingredient in flours, baked goods and other products made with alternative grains, such as rice crackers. The FDA food allergen label law requires foods to state if they contain a top 8 allergen such as wheat. But, there are many foods and products that are not covered by the law, so it is still important to know how to read a label for wheat ingredients. Products exempt from plain English labeling rules: (1) Foods that are not regulated by the FDA. (2) Cosmetics and personal care items. (3) Prescription and over-the-counter medications. (4) Toys, crafts and pet food.  Download and print our Wheat Allergy Avoidance List and Travel Cards to carry with you and share.

CONTAIN WHEAT

The following ingredients found on a label indicate the presence of wheat. All labels should be read carefully before consuming a product, even if it has been used safely in the past.

All purpose flour
Bread — any type made with white flour, wheat flour; bread crumbs
Bulgur
Cereal extract
Couscous
Cracker meal
Einkorn
Emmer - also known as farro
Farina
Flour — atta, club, common, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, graham, kamut, maida, semolina, spelt, triticale, triticum
Flour — all purpose, bread, bromated, cake, enriched, high gluten, high protein, instant pastry, phosphated, plain, soft wheat, steel ground, stone, ground, self-rising, unbleached, white, whole wheat
Fu
Gluten — wheat gluten, vital gluten, vital wheat gluten, fu
Kamut ® — khorasan wheat
Malt, malt extract
Matzo — Matzo meal (also spelled as matzoh, matzah, or matza)
Noodles, pasta
Seitan
Semolina
Spelt
Tabbouleh
Triticale
Triticum
Wheat, whole wheat — wheat berries, wheat bran, whole wheat bread, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, wheat germ oil, wheat protein isolate, wheat starch, wheat sprouts, sprouted wheat
Wheatgrass

WHEAT IS SOMETIMES FOUND IN

Artificial flavoring, natural flavoring
Caramel color
Dextrin
Food starch*, gelatinized starch, modified starch, modified food starch, vegetable starch
Glucose syrup
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
Maltodextrin
Monosodium glutamate, MSG
Oats**
Soy sauce, shoyu, tamari, teriyaki sauce
Surimi
Textured vegetable protein
Vegetable gum


However, if the product is an FDA regulated food, the word "Wheat" must appear on the label.

*Unless otherwise stated on the food label, the single word “starch” in an ingredient list means corn starch. Starches from other sources should be designated by some non-misleading term that indicates the source of such starch, for example, “wheat starch.” See: Starches Common or Usual Names (FDA)

**Wheat-free and gluten-free oats can be found from special suppliers.

BOTANICAL NAMES OF WHEAT (SOMETIMES FOUND IN PERSONAL CARE ITEMS)

Club wheat (Triticum compactum Host.)
Common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)
Durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.)
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum L. subsp. monococcum)
Emmer (Triticum turgidum L. subsp. dicoccon (Schrank) Thell.)
Kamut (Triticum polonicum L.)
Semolina (Triticum durum Desf.)
Spelt (Triticum spelta L.)
Triticale ( x Triticosecale ssp. Wittm.)
Triticum: Triticum aestivum L., Triticum durum Desf., Triticum compactum Host., Triticum spelta L., Triticum durum Desf., Triticum monococcum L. subsp. monococcum, Triticum turgidum L. subsp.dicoccon (Schrank) Thell., Triticum polonicum L., and x Triticosecale spp. Wittm.

 

 

Celiac Disease and Gluten

Celiac disease is not the same as wheat allergy. Wheat allergy is an immediate immune system reaction to wheat protein. Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease. People with celiac disease cannot eat gluten, one of the proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it damages their small intestine. The damage then interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.

If you think your body is reacting poorly to wheat and you are suspecting a problem with gluten, it is best not to self-diagnose. Check with your doctor and make certain you do not have a wheat allergy, celiac disease, or some other condition before starting a modified diet. 

Cross Reactivity: Do You Need to Avoid Foods Related to Wheat?

Cross-reactivity occurs when the proteins in one food are similar to the proteins in another. When that happens, the body's immune system sees them as the same.

With respect to grains like wheat, there is a 20% chance of an allergy to another grain if allergic to one of them. Examples of other grains are barley, rice, corn or oats.¹

Nutrition for a Wheat-Free Diet

Grains contain protein, and when fortified, a good variety of vitamins and minerals. Some minerals in grains include B vitamins and iron. The milling process for grains can also remove important nutrients. So, make sure you choose fortified and enriched grains that replace these nutrients. A serving or two of an enriched and fortified grain at each meal will contribute to meeting important nutritional needs for B vitamins, folacin and iron.

NUTRIENTS LOST
WHEN AVOIDING WHEAT
SUGGESTED ALTERNATE SOURCES
(if not allergic)
B Vitamins, Iron Protein foods: meats, fish, poultry, legumes, eggs, dairy (if safe for your child);
fruit, vegetables, leafy greens, fortified alternate grain products (rice, corn, oats, barley, buckwheat)

 

Wheat Substitutions in Recipes

Look for fortified and enriched grains can provide the nutrients missed by avoiding wheat. You can substitute flours from alternate grains in recipes to provide the same nutrients as wheat. Using wheat-free alternative flours can be tricky. Follow recipes carefully and become familiar with using alternative grains in recipes.

Learn more about using WHEAT SUBSTITUTES.

Wheat-Free Recipes

Over 1,000 wheat-free recipes are available in KFA's Safe Eats™ Recipes. Search for Wheat-Free Recipes


5 stars
Chewy Choco Chip Cookies - Top 8 Free

5 stars
Annika's Stuffing

5 stars
Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

 

References:

1. Sicherer, SH. (2002). Clinical implications of cross-reactive food allergens. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology , Volume 108 , Issue 6 , 881 – 890. Retrieved online on August 24 at http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(01)63295-0/fulltext.

Medical review March 2015.