Are Nuts Safe For Celiacs?

 

Naturally gluten free but do they contain ‘traces of gluten’?

Are nuts safe for celiacs? Some of you may be reading this and thinking, seriously? Is this gluten free traveller chick really trying to tell me that I can’t eat nuts now? She’s already made me uncertain about my morning coffee and I KNOW that nuts are gluten free. In theory, YES. Nuts themselves are of course naturally gluten free but in my experience it’s extremely difficult to find any which are free from the threat of cross contamination. And if you’re celiac then this is a real concern.

Here’s what led me to write this post..

I was at my local farmers market yesterday buying tasty fruit and veggies for the week and I noticed there were various nuts for sale. I asked the guy selling almonds whether they were safe for celiacs. He told me that they are manufactured on machinery with a whole bunch of stuff and so he couldn’t confirm that they are safe. I told him that I am celiac and therefore can’t risk eating anything which may have been cross contaminated by gluten. His response was “I wouldn’t recommend that you eat any almonds at all” I’m very happy that these lovely guys were honest with me but it leaves me with a problem. Where is a celiac to find cross contamination free, gluten free nuts?

Today I called Target to find out about the gluten free status of their Archer Farms raw mixed nuts. The lovely woman on the phone told me that whilst this product contains no gluten ingredients it was made on shared equipment with gluten containing products. She also said that the company does have procedures in place to try to prevent cross contamination but she couldn’t tell me what those procedures are. ‘Procedures in place to try to prevent cross contamination‘? Is this really the best we can hope for?

It appears that very rarely are nuts safe from possible cross contamination. I know that in Whole Foods for example all of the nuts I looked at carry a label which says ‘may contain wheat.’ or ‘made on shared equipment with wheat.’ Trader Joes have their ‘No Gluten ingredients’ symbol but again this doesn’t mean the product is free from cross contamination. And then what about the places that aren’t openly warning us about this risk? The farmers market I went to yesterday is a prime example. Many of the products there carry no labelling but they may still have been produced in a way that makes them unsafe for us celiacs. I’m sure many celiacs have bought these nuts without even considering possible cross contamination. What are we to do in situations like this? The same could be said for many other products. Dried fruit? Dried beans and lentils? And the list goes on..

I’ve recently discovered that Blue Diamond almonds are apparently produced on gluten free lines to prevent cross contamination. This sounds a lot better. But what if I want peanuts? walnuts? cashews? If you can buy nuts which are still in their shell and crack them yourself then they won’t be contaminated by evil gluten.

Where you do find your nuts? Perhaps you don’t eat nuts or perhaps you’re buying them without knowing for sure? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…

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Comments

  • Great post Laura. As you know I have been wondering about nuts too. I remember going to the celiac shop in Buenos Aires and they sold nuts. I was surprised and said, why would you need to sell nuts at a celiac shop? Aren’t they always gluten-free? And the girls working there said, no, they’re not. They might have been talking about roasting but it’s true, we don’t know about the cross-contamination issues. I am glad you found one brand with gluten-free awareness about their production. Any others? If others have ideas please chime in.

    Also, what about seeds? For example, I need to buy pumpkin seeds, as per a naturopath recommendation and can’t find any yet which seem free of cross-contamination. I found some flax seeds from Bob’s Red Mills which I think I can trust.

  • Nuts.com is supposed to have gluten-free nuts, I have spoken with them over email about it but haven’t ordered yet.

  • Thanks for this post! When I was first diagnosed with celiac last year, I relied heavily on nuts, but then started realizing they were sometimes making me sick! Now I only eat ones that say gluten-free on the label, which of course limits my choices greatly. It also baffles my friends and family who thought nuts were a good option for party snacks for me and now can’t figure out why nuts are now something I watch out for. *sigh*

    I can’t remember the brand I sometimes buy, but it says that the almonds are sprouted, dehydrated and gluten-free. Of course they are somewhere near $9 a bag, which is somewhat ridiculous, but I guess I’m willing to pay the price for peace of mind (and my health).

  • I recently came across this as a restaurant in town does not include dishes with nuts on the gluten free menu due to cross contanimation. Something to keep in mind!

  • What does this say about Lara bars (which are made of nuts)? They say they are gf but they are not certified.

    I found some sprouted pumpkin seeds which are certified GF. Expensive but certified.

    I was thinking ordering online might be the way to go too if there are places that sell certified GF nuts and seeds.

  • Lara bars are safe for us. They are one of very few bars in this country that I trust :) Whilst they are not GF Certified (and they should be to assure us!) they have controls in place to keep us safe. :)

    This is from their website: “LÄRABAR and JŎCALAT are Gluten Free. They have no gluten-containing ingredients, and we have manufacturing controls in place to ensure that there are no cross-contact concerns. We also periodically verify our practices using Gliadin gluten testing.”

  • Interesting, Petra. What a great point you make…do we double check the source of our nuts that are served to us as part of a ‘gluten free’ meal? It’s nice to hear of a restaurant really thinking about what they serve and not being comfortable labelling it as gluten free unless they are certain. I really doubt any restaurant can know for sure that the nuts they are using in their meals are safe.

    I think this comes down to how gluten free aware are the restaurants we are eating at because clearly gluten free doesn’t always mean gluten free when you’re celiac.. http://glutenfreetraveller.com/topics-2/lifestyle/how-gluten-free-aware-are-gluten-free-restaurants/

  • I’ve been wondering about this as well. There must be at least a commercial source, because the almond flour I buy is supposed to be gluten free. I’ve been craving macadamia nuts and can’t seem to find a good gluten free source… I’ve been worrying a lot because while products have been using the gluten free label, when nuts are involved I’m having a hard time believing they went all the way back to their producer’s production practices to check that there was no cross contamination.

  • True, Michelle I hadn’t even thought about the nutty flours. I wonder where they get their nuts from? Bob’s Red Mill for example have a gluten free almond flour. Their gluten free products are made in a completely gluten free factory so I guess whatever source they get their almonds from must be safe and cross contamination free? Interesting..

  • Hey, just found your website through Gluten Free Travel with Kids. Nuts are so tricky. I’m not sure what country you are in, but Trader Joe’s has very good labeling regarding whether the equipments was gluten free or not. We are currently living in Sweden (GF family of 5) where the labeling is not as specific, and we just knocked a brand of nuts off our safe list, because we realized it was making us all sick.
    Flour wise stateside, we have had no problem with Honeyville Almond Flour. There is also an Almond flour in the UK that I found, but haven’t tried yet that I can get the name of if anyone is interested. We currently are ‘importing’ (via friends and visitors) the Honeyville from the states :)
    If you are desperate, I have had success making nut flours with a dedicated coffee grinder…it takes time, but it does work! Cheers!

  • Michelle P.

    Jul 15th, 2012

    This is exactly why I buy all of my nuts and most of my gf flours through nuts.com They prominently label which products of theirs are certified gluten-free.
    Also, their nuts are way fresher and tastier than nuts I’ve bought anywhere else!

  • And then you have those of us who are celiac who are also deadly allergic to nuts and who find g-f products quite difficult in general because many companies seem to think nothing of contaminating their carefully g-f products with nuts!! I really wish someone would make a line completely free of the big-8 that was also affordable.

  • I buy my nuts at my local farmer’s market.

    But, it isn’t that simple.

    I spoke with every nut vendor at the farmer’s market to figure out which ones I could trust, and which ones I couldn’t. It turns out the most popular vendor had never even heard of gluten free, while many of the smaller vendors were very knowledgeable about food handling practices and how their nuts were processed. I purchase my nuts (and raisins) from two of these vendors, and have had no worries or “events”.

    My husband has now been gluten free for the last three years, and it has changed our palates. In the past I would never think of eating a nut unless it was roasted or flavored. Now we really like to eat plain nuts. As we remove so much of the processed foods out of our diets we don’t have a taste for salts and flavors, which makes purchasing nuts that much easier…

  • I usually wash my beans and rice before cooking them, and I get peanuts only on their own shell and peal them myself, same with almonds and nuts. never processed unless GF tested.
    You should review your garrapiñadas post, since for me they have never been gluten free because of what you say in this post. cheers from buenos aires.

  • I buy nuts in the shell and whip out the good old nutcracker LOL

  • That’s what I’ve been doing recently with Walnuts, Amy! Although right now I don’t have a nutcracker so I’m putting them in a bag and smacking them with the bottom of a knife. It seems to work! :)

  • I am extremely sensitive Laura and just discovered my love for Almonds. Blue Diamond has not bothered me at all. I would know right away!

  • Hi Lori! I eat Blue Diamond almonds every day now and they are delicious! I’m glad you’ve discovered a love for them too. :) Other than walnuts in the shell, when I can find them, Blue Diamond almonds are pretty much the only nuts I eat. I devour peanut butter every day of course as though it’s going out of fashion! :D

  • My family has been eating from Nuts.com for 2 years. They have fantastic service, fast delivery, and the best-tasting nuts we’ve eaten. So, we’re really happy with them except for the cost of shipping that adds to our food bill. I’m wondering if I can order direct from suppliers.

  • Hippie4ever

    Apr 17th, 2013

    Nuts.com has many nuts certified gluten free! Best to buy in bulk as the shipping can be high, for those of us accustom to getting free shipping (amazon, iherb, vitacost). They also offer free shipping ~3x a year to those who are subscribed to their email updates. They not only test to certify, they also vet their vendors. I love nuts.com! And last time I spoke with diamond, I was told their nuts were processed on shared lines and they could not guarantee…

  • Ashley Rose

    May 7th, 2013

    SO maybe it’s only me who has had this issue but for me I have to stay away from the whole food bins/dispensers even in the natural section, i have gotten walnuts from these two times and both times felt like I had been glutened. I’m curious as to why but moreso am concerned with just staying away from these altogether. Unfortunate since it is always a bit cheaper to get flax seeds, nuts, from these but it just seems riskyyy

  • Laura I’ve read that you eat the Justin butter, and I believe they use dry roasted nuts for their nut butter so be careful. I’ve read to stay away from dry roasted nuts because they can use flavorings. Roasted is ok but dry roasted is not…
    I would use Artisana or Barney Butter.

  • Does anyone know if you can wash (hence the wheat) off the dry roasted almonds and re-roast them in the oven to make them safe to eat?

  • Also, could you wash the maltodextrin off of the dry roasted nuts and re-roast them?

  • I am gluten-free coach. Enough has been said about regular nuts but there is also the issue of roasted nuts. Certain foods have an edible coating on them (an example of an edible coating would be the shell on M&M’s). Not all edible coatings are visible or obvious. Roasted nuts are often coated to keep them “stable” during the roasting process. More often then not this coating is a gluten based product.

  • Hi Marian,
    Do you mean that this coating cannot be washed off? I don’t have easy access to gluten free nuts and, since even raw almonds may possibly be processed in a plant that processes wheat, it would help if I could just buy regular and wash them off and re-roast.

  • Nuts.com has supplied me with gluten free almond meal/ flour which has been great. I’m still not certain about the whole nuts they sell though because I seem to have a slight reaction from them.

  • While not a celiac, am trying to go Gluten free at this time, (as a result of reading Dr. Perlmutter’s new book, “Grain Brain”…NYT Best Seller..09/17/2013.), and this is EXACTLY what I felt the problem WAS/IS!!! Cross Contamination. Great post, Laura. t g e

  • Stig-Are Mogstad

    Oct 28th, 2013

    I have only recently realised that almonds and nuts give me gluten-like symptoms, and got surprised when I google’d the issue and saw all the talk and comments on it. But it also applies to gluten-free marked almond flour bought in the the health-food store. Could it be that gluten-free milling of the flour is based on almonds that come cross-taminated?

  • Most shelled nuts are processed in a facility that also processes wheat, so I think it is very difficult to find a truely gluten-free nut…

  • I guess I’ll have to chance it or purchase from nuts.com. There are so many foods I cannot eat that if I am to give up nuts, too, my weight will go down to NOTHING… Sorry…just VERY frustrated.

  • Laura, I love your website. Based on this post, I ordered salted organic cashews and almonds from nuts.com. It took a few days to identify, but I reacted to the cashews. It was very low-level at first, but got progressively worse. I never opened the almonds after that. The salted organic cashews were labelled gluten free. I am one of those sensitive Celiacs for whom 20ppm is not nearly enough, so perhaps they use the 20ppm threshold (too bad the FDA selected such a lax threshold for the label “gluten free”). Thanks to everyone for the other suggestions, as well. I will check them out.

  • I too have given up nuts! First coffee (one year ago)felt much better. Had another EGD 2 months ago and still I am having inflammation issues. At my wits end! So now no nuts or processed foods and very little dairy. Feeling SO much better!! Found out that processed foods can contribute to all kinds of nasty stuff, even though they say gluten free. I hope you all have a safe gluten free journey! Thank you for the info regarding Blue Diamond almonds! Maybe I’ll try them ;)

  • Has anybody called Costco recently to discuss their various kinds of Kirkland Brand nuts with Customer SErvice? Last time I checked certains kinds of Kirkland Nuts carried the ‘shared equipment’ or ‘facility’ warning and certain ones didnt and i had decided those without the warning were safe. There was also a point in time where Coscto said their “shared facility” warning didnt mean “shared equipment” and people working in the factory were confined to their specific area and didnt transfer from the gluten section to the nut section on the same day so gluten would not be cross-transferring; and there was quite a distance (separate wings of the factory or separate rooms for example) between the parts of the facility where the different items were processed. Granted companies like Costco change their manufacturing and food processing partners a lot so i dont know the current status. I would love to hear what you all may have found out.
    The price of nuts at Costco is great and I used to make our own nut milk and flour from them.

    Nuts.com is great but so, so expensive.

  • Great post! I figured out right away that all bulk items are off limits. Nuts are very difficult to find gluten free. GOOD NEWS!! If you live near an Aldi grocery store, they sell gluten free Walnuts, and they are only $6.99 per pound! I’ve been only eating walnuts for a couple of years, but with all the great reviews about nuts.com, I’m going to have to try them! Thanks!

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