Cereal Which Should Be Gluten Free (But Isn’t)

Not Grrrreat for celiacs!

Contains gluten 🙁

It’s three years since I was diagnosed with celiac disease, three years since I stopped eating gluten, three years since I’ve been able to eat some of my favourite cereals. So many of my old favourite cereals are not gluten free simply because of one ingredient. Most breakfast cereals contain barley malt extract, barley malt flavouring or malt flavor, depending on the company and where in the world you are. I don’t think I’ve been to a country where this isn’t the case. I often wonder if General Mills can take it out of Chex why can’t they and other cereal makers remove it from other cereals too and give gluten free cereal lovers a bigger selection to choose from?

Luckily there are a whole bunch of delicious cereals which ARE gluten free. In the US I love my Chex, my Mighty Tasty Cereal and my Envirokids. In terms of gluten free cereal sold in the UK I can’t get enough of my Whole Earth Cornflakes, my Kelkin Rice Porridge and my Hale and Hearty Choco Jungle Cereal. There could be so much more choice though if just one ingredient was removed from so many other cereals.

My old favourites and cereals I still find myself missing from time to time are Frosties (Frosted Flakes), Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes, Ricicles, Shreddies and Rice Krispies (They do have a gluten free brown rice alternative in some places now). Many of these cereals could be gluten free if they would just get rid of the evil barley malt extract or malt flavour. If not for this malt flavour, cereals such as Frosted Flakes would have no gluten containing ingredients. Why will cereal makers not take this out and make more of their cereals safe for celiacs??

Is there more to this barley malt flavouring than I’m aware of? Is it a cost factor? Is it necessary for making cereals taste good? I should think not since Chex and various other cereals taste great without it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you too a celiac cereal lover who wants to rid the breakfast cereal world of barley malt flavouring?

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  • Cathy Anderson

    Aug 1st, 2012

    Clif bars are another one — couldn’t understand why I kept having issues until I examined the (very small print) list of ingredients — and there it was: Barley Malt Extract.

  • It’s a flavouring thing. It gives the foodstuffs what tasters call ‘brown notes’ making the flavour more rounded. There would probably be outrage from gluters if it was removed as there is definitely a flavour impact- imo gluten free alternatives often taste either bland, or are over sugared to compensate! I definitely have issues with the number of places it crops up though- anything caramel flavoured is a danger! But my real beef is with the much higher cost of the GF versions which have less ingredients- the cheek!

  • Interesting, thanks for sharing. I thought it must be a flavour thing. I guess I just wish cereal producers had never used it as an ingredient in the first place so that no-one would know the difference. Some of the cereals which contain it like Frosties and Ricicles have such silly amounts of sugar added to them anyway that I wonder if anyone would notice the difference..one day!! 🙂

  • I’ve looked into the barley malt thing before, it’s basically a sweetener, and by using it they can cut some of the sugar content/calories without sacrificing flavor. Although as you said, there’s so much sugar packed into those things anyway who would notice an extra gram or two per serving? So frustrating!

    My favorite is the Envirokidz Gorilla Munch cereal, not only does it taste good but the simplicity of three ingredients is so gratifying 🙂

  • Yum! Gorilla Munch is fantastic. The Envirokids Panda Peanut Butter Puffs are my favourite. Yay for yummy, gluten free cereal 🙂

  • For what is worth, we have the same situation here in Spain but without Chex which I tried last time I was in the USA and loved them.

    There’s another element to consider: the cross contamination. May be taking out one ingredient is not enough because they don’t produce them in a gf free environment… Nah!, I don’t thing so because there’s Chex again.

    So in Spain we are basically limited to the specialized gluten-free brands with their limited offer and high price 🙁

  • Celiacbuthappy,

    You can order Chex online and have it shipped to you. It’ll be a little pricey to have it shipped, but the more you order at one time, the less it’ll end up costing you. There’s a certain kind of delicious smoothie I like that I can’t find in my state… Well, I know a little website where a lady will go and buy it in bulk for me and ship it to me at cost = shipping. And she WILL ship internationally. If she doens’t have what you need or want listed, all you have to do is send her a message and she’ll go get it for you!

  • Cost + shipping** Sorry.

  • Michael

    Nov 26th, 2015

    “not gluten free simply because of one ingredient”
    I find this frustrating and puzzling too, even tho I’m not celiac. I’m 74 and my GP found many of the symptoms I have recently developed were also experienced by those with some degree of gluten intolerance (I though this was genetic and was surprised at the idea that I could develop it). She suggested cutting out as much as I felt convenient, So having heard that ‘gluten -free’ products were expensive and not very testy, out went cereal, bread, pizza, pasta and cakes etc. Then in Tesco fresh bakery I found Corn bread and, knowing maize did not have gluten, bought it and found it crusty and tasty. Next time I went to buy some, I asked a young woman if she could slice it for me and whether they had buckwheat bread to try, as that did not have gluten either. To my surprise, she said “Are you celiac?” I said no and explained. Her reply was that it contained some wheat, and I couldn’t count on anything in the bakery to be gluten-free. The same applied to oats and oat-based products. I said she was very knowledgeable and she replied that her parents were doctors. She, like you, couldn’t understand why this, generally small, proportion of gluten-containing material was essential or desirable. She showed me a book listing the ingredients, but without any indication of proportions. I took this up with Tesco on-line customer services and was surprised to get a very self-defensive reply, that they complied fully with regulations. I mentioned it to the young woman next time I was in Tesco and she said HQ wouldn’t know, as they simply bought in from one or more bakeries. I think only an approach to the big 4 supermarkets at a high level by Coeliac UK might produce a more considerate policy.
    Thanks for your efforts. I’m glad to see you’re so up-beat about your life. I’ve had some pretty bad stuff and I think having the same attitude prevented me from ever feeling really down.