Good Questions To Ask Manufacturers

If you are going to call or write to a manufacturer to ask for a written list of gluten-free foods, this page offers some ideas for questions to ask. It may be a good idea to ask the manufacturer to reflect the questions back to you in their answer. For example: "Our products do not contain any of the grains wheat, rye, barley or oats. We have checked with our suppliers and none of the ingredients -- modified food starch, natural flavors, spices, vinegar or alcohol -- in our products have those grains as a source. All of our foods are produced on lines where only gluten-free items are produced, so there are no cross-contamination issues." Or, if these positive answers are not possible -- and very few manufacturers will have such clearly gluten-free products -- specifically letting us know what the issues are is the best advice. So for example: "Our cereal is gluten-free but is manufactured on the same line as cereals which are not. Equipment is cleaned between batches but...." etc.

It is always a temptation to complicate the questions you ask of manufacturers with your own food issues. For example you may be allergic to tomatoes, so you want to ask for foods which are both gluten-free and tomato-free. Or you may believe that oats are safe, and so not include oats in your questions. But for the answers you receive to be most helpful to all, just including wheat, rye, barley and oats -- no more and no less -- is critical.

A Sample Letter

I am a celiac and am unable to eat foods with gluten in them. Gluten can be found in wheat, rye, barley and oats and their byproducts. Celiacs do not have problems with corn, rice, tapioca or potatoes. Can you list for me foods that you make which are gluten free? Things to look out for and consider are foods containing any kind of:

I also need to be concerned about ingredients which may have a variety of sources, like:

Finally, another concern is the environment in which the food is manufactured and packaged. We need to know if a food is produced on the same line as any other item which contains any of the above problem foods, since even trace amounts of gluten damage a celiac's body, and cross-contamination would be an issue in this situation.

Thank you in advance for your careful research of these issues, and I look forward to hearing from you so that I can share this information with the thousands of members of the celiac community who use the World Wide Web.

We Welcome Your Comments

If you have any thoughts on the form or content of our suggested letter, please Email Me. Thanks!