Spice Wholesalers Discuss: Are Spices Gluten Free?

Posted by World of Spice 10/08/2021

An image of enchilada with gluten free spice from spice wholesalers.

If you’re in the catering industry, you’ll know just how important attention to detail with allergies and intolerances are. Knowing what’s in every dish is key to not only great food, but happy customers. Gluten intolerances and illnesses like coeliac disease are serious health conditions that are unfortunately, extremely common. In fact, it’s estimated that 9 million people in the UK suffer from a gluten related ailment. The rise in awareness from restaurants is a huge benefit to them, but it’s important that every chef knows the potential allergens in each dish produced. Spices can come under that bracket. As one of the leading spice wholesalers in the UK, World of Spice wanted to take a closer look at gluten in spices.

What is Gluten?

Simply speaking, glutens are proteins that are found in wheat, barley, malts, rye and triticale. They’re also found in flavourings, additives and thickening agents. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s surprising just how many foods gluten appears in. Gluten can also find its way into food through cross-contamination. For example, foods that are processed through the same machines as say, wheat, could pick up traces of gluten in the production line. Although many restaurants label specific dishes on their menus as gluten-free, it’s important that those suffering with an intolerance make their server aware for extra precaution. Wheat (where gluten is found) is listed as one of the eight foods that are responsible for over 90 percent of food allergies.

Do Spices Contain Gluten?

As expert spice wholesalers, we understand that fresh and dried spices from a reputable distributor should not contain gluten. In some instances, a non-gluten anti-caking agent in the form of calcium silicate, silicon dioxide or sodium aluminium silica may be added to stop a spice from clumping.

Although, many physical spices may not contain gluten, there could be a small chance that cross-contamination may have occurred in processing, meaning a small trace of gluten could be found within the product. Poor manufacturing with herbs and spices have been identified more frequently in third world countries.

In rare cases, some spices can be sprinkled with wheat starch to reduce cost but will be labelled on the back of the packaging. The actual amount of wheat is very minimal. Keep in mind that spices are generally not consumed unless they are part of another food. To put things into perspective, recent statistics detailed that a single serving of ground spice is typically about 0.5 grams. If the spice had 160 ppm of gluten in it and an individual ate 0.5 grams of this spice in a meal, the amount of gluten consumed would be 0.08 milligrams. A threshold level of less than 10 milligrams of gluten per day is safe for most individuals with coeliac disease.

Spice Shopping for Your Restaurant

It comes back to that old saying – failing to prepare is preparing to fail – and it’s true. If you want to succeed within the catering business, the odds will certainly be in your favour if you’re prepared for all eventualities, whether it’s a specific dish request or a gluten-free customer walking through the door. Herbs and spices may be consumed in small quantities in the grand scheme of things, but due diligence is essential to ensure that your gluten-free efforts are what they say they are on the tin.

Trustworthy spice wholesalers will have good manufacturing practices and protocols and will be willing to talk to you about their gluten-free policy. Check their website or give them a call to verify this.

What About Seasonings?

Seasoning refers to a blend of herbs and spices that are often combined with a carrier agent and anti-caking agent. These can include salt, sugar, lactose, starches or flours. It really depends on the type of seasoning and the manufacturer, but seasonings are a little more likely to contain gluten than spices. Gluten-containing ingredients that are used in seasonings may include wheat flour, wheat starch, wheat crumbs or hydrolysed wheat protein. Check the ingredients label; wheat-based products will appear there.

Get in Touch

Here at World of Spice, we are specialist spice wholesalers. Our produce is known internationally for its delicious and strong flavour. We always deliver the highest quality products, working with some of the finest chefs to help them create impeccable, authentic cuisine. If you’re looking to buy spices online, we can arrange fast and convenient delivery to meet your business’s needs.

From bespoke blends to a choice of packaging, complete with custom labelling, our comprehensive service can help you achieve your culinary goals. For more information about our services, gluten-free details and what we can offer you, please contact us at orders@worldofspice.co.uk, or feel free to call our team on 01277 633303. We look forward to hearing from you.

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