Are Processed Meats Gluten Free?

Following a gluten-free diet can be challenging, as it requires understanding gluten sources. Processed meat, a popular choice for many, raises questions for those following a gluten-free lifestyle. Today, we will explore what you should know about processed meat when following a gluten-free diet, including potential risks and health considerations.


slices of various processed meats on a plate

Understanding Processed Meat

Processed meat has undergone preservation techniques, such as salting, curing, smoking, or adding chemical preservatives.

It often includes sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, and canned meat products. While processed meat is convenient and widely available, it has garnered attention due to potential health concerns.

Processed meat is especially popular as a topping for pizzas and party boards.

The Gluten-Free Connection

When it comes to a gluten-free diet, the primary concern is the presence of gluten in processed meat products. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and its presence in processed meat can occur in various ways.

Gluten may be added directly as an ingredient, used as a binder, or introduced during manufacturing.

To determine if processed meat is safe for a gluten-free diet, you must check the ingredient list and any labeling information provided.

Gluten may have various names, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, maltodextrin, or modified food starch. Therefore, when following a gluten-free lifestyle, you should be vigilant in identifying these potential hidden gluten sources.

Certifications and Labeling

In recent years, there has been an increased awareness of gluten-related issues, leading to improved labeling practices. Many manufacturers now provide clear and explicit labeling of gluten-containing ingredients, making it easier for consumers to make informed choices.

When selecting processed meat, look for products certified as gluten-free by reputable organizations. These certifications provide assurance that the product has undergone rigorous testing and meets the necessary gluten-free standards.

Recognized gluten-free certifications include those from organizations such as the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) or the Celiac Support Association (CSA).


asparagus spears wrapped in smoked bacon

Potential Health Risks 

Are there potential health risks associated with processed meat consumption? Research has indicated that excessive consumption of processed meat may contribute to various health issues. 

Here are a few reasons why processed meats may not be the best food choice

High in Sodium: Processed meat is often high in sodium due to the preservation techniques employed. Consuming excessive amounts of sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. 

Additives and Preservatives: Many processed meat products contain additives and preservatives, such as nitrates and nitrites, which help enhance flavor, color, and shelf life. However, evidence suggests a potential link between nitrate consumption and an increased risk of certain cancers. It is recommended to choose nitrate-free options or limit consumption overall.

High in Saturated Fat: Processed meat is often high in saturated fat, which can contribute to elevated cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Incorporating leaner protein sources, such as poultry, fish, or plant-based alternatives, can be a healthier choice.

Carcinogens: As per MD Anderson Center,  studies have shown associations between processed meat consumption and an increased risk of certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer. 

How to make homemade gluten free deli meat?

The best deli meat is homemade. Marinate a turkey breast, chicken, beef or pork in your favourite marinade for 24 hours. Roast, cool and slice just before serving.

You can also buy gluten-free liquid smoke and add to your marinade for that smokey flavour we love.  Homemade deli meat when refrigerated should last up to 4 days. It is that simple and certainly much healthier

Balancing Choices

While processed meat can be enjoyed in moderation, it is essential to maintain a balanced diet incorporating various nutrient-rich foods. Prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean proteins can provide a solid foundation for a gluten-free diet.

Processed Meats – The Highlights

Understanding processed meat is important for making informed choices when following a gluten-free diet. Gluten can be present in many products. Additionally, processed meat consumption has potential health risks due to high sodium content, additives, preservatives, saturated fat, and possible carcinogens.

By opting for gluten-free certified products, choosing leaner protein alternatives, and incorporating a variety of whole foods, you can maintain a balanced gluten-free diet that promotes overall health and well-being.

Remember, moderation and informed decision-making are key regarding processed meat and your gluten-free lifestyle.

Let’s Connect!

Be sure to FOLLOW US on FACEBOOK and PINTEREST. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, the form is at the bottom of this page. We always have something new and exciting for you! 

Many thanks!

Kristina xx

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice.