Is Barley Malt Extract Gluten Free? Barley Malt Vinegar? Quick Guide Here!!

10th June 2019
Blog post

Hands up who doesn’t get whether barley malt extract is gluten free?! Is barley malt vinegar gluten free? How about barley malt vinegar extract?!! Meeee!!!

As a result, I see the word “barley malt….” in the ingredients list & I just put that food right back on the shelf. You too?! BUT THAT MEANS YOU’RE MISSING OUT!!! Things like Lea & Perrins & Branston Pickle. You CAN have some of these products.

I’m not a doctor or any kind of healthcare professional, but I’ve spent ages reading up on this topic & spoke to Coeliac U.K. to check I’ve properly understood it before I shared my new found wisdom with you lovely lot. 

It’s actually incredibly simple.


The Rules:

  1. “Barley” – don’t eat
  2. “Barley Malt Vinegar” – safe to eat
  3. “Barley Malt Extract” – need to check
  4. “Barley Malt Vinegar Extract” – need to check

A Bit More Info About the Rules:

Ok… long story short, if the level of gluten in any product is less than 20 parts per million, Coeliac UK deem it safe for us 🙂

Technically, the product still contains gluten but its so so tiny that its only a problem for people with a totally separate allergy to the grain (either barley, rye, oats, wheat, or spelt). Nothing to do with the gluten.

So for the rules above:

  • Number 2: the level of gluten in barley malt vinegar is always less than 20ppm so its always safe.
  • Number 3 & 4: the level of gluten in barley malt extract & barley malt vinegar extract CAN be coeliac safe but you need to check…

What do you mean by “need to check”?

You can’t tell whether the product is coeliac safe just by looking at the ingredients list. As a result, you need to do a little extra work…

4 ways to check: 

  1. Look at the food packaging itself
    • Does it say its gluten free? If so, the ingredients must be safe.
    • Still check the label for “may contain” warnings incase there’s a risk of cross contamination in the production process.
  2. Check on Coeliac UK’s “GF Food Checker” app – click here for info on how to use it
  3. Search Coeliac UK’s online “Food & Drink Directory
  4. Contact Coeliac UK
  5. Contact the company itself

Examples

Caveat to the examples below: As I said, unfortunately, some people can’t eat ANY barley because of a SEPARATE allergy/intolerance, even if it’s below the coeliac safe level of 20ppm. If that’s you, you shouldn’t eat any of the examples below!

Example 1 : Knorr Rich Beef Stock Cubes

  1. Contains “Barley Malt Extract” so we “need to check”.
  2. Luckily, the packaging itself states its gluten free (on the front) and there’s no “may contain” warnings, so its safe!
  3. You can also scan it into the Coeliac UK app/search the online directory and you’ll see a smiley face to show its safe.
barley malt
barley malt

Example 2: Co-op Diet Cola

  1. Contains “Malted Barley Extract” so we “need to check”.
  2. There’s no “gluten free” on the label
  3. I scanned it on the Coeliac UK App and it said it was not safe (indicated by the little sad face in the picture below!)
coeliac uk app

Example 3: Jack’s Corn Flakes

  1. Contains “Barley Malt Extract” so we “need to check”.
  2. It doesn’t state gluten free anywhere on the packet
  3. But after a quick search on the Coeliac UK app, it says its gluten free barley and safe!
coeliac uk app

Hope this helps!
Jess x

**PS. Are you a new coeliac? There’s tons more help here **

3 Comments

  • Fiona

    11th June 2019 at 1:04 am

    Thanks! Even after 20 years I’m never totally sure. Now I just need to remember this advice. ?

  • Marianne

    11th June 2019 at 3:06 pm

    I was diagnosed as a coeliac 15 years ago. At the time I was told certain breakfast cereals (Rice Krispies specifically) were safe for me. It took me a couple of years to work out that my symptoms not subsiding completely were due to the supposed below safe levels of the barley malt extract in the cereal. I would advise all coeliacs to tread very carefully in this area. They are constantly reviewing and changing advice for coeliacs. Various products that were supposedly safe (and I knew they weren’t as they made me sick) including marketed GF breads have since been withdrawn in the last 15 years as what are deemed to be acceptable levels of gluten have been revised. If you do try a product containing malt I urge you to be certain that nothing else you consume at the same time is a risk so that if symptoms appear you can very quickly identify the source.

  • Gabrielle – coeliacgirl

    28th June 2019 at 10:09 am

    This was sooo helpful – thanks!!

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