If you’re one of the many people on a gluten-free diet, you’ve probably already learned how prevalent this plant storage protein is in the U.S. diet. A gluten-free diet eliminates foods made from wheat, barley or rye. Some of these foods, such as whole-wheat bread or turkey barley soup, are easy to identify. Other gluten-laden products, such as root beer or blue cheese, are a little trickier. Many condiments, including ketchup, may use gluten products as a stabilizer, flavoring or thickener. ConAgra foods, the company that makes Hunt’s ketchup, is one of the many manufacturers who produce gluten-free varieties of ketchup.
Effects of Gluten
If you have celiac disease, your body launches an autoimmune response when you ingest even a small amount of gluten. While the response is designed to destroy the foreign protein found in gluten, it also damages villi, the small finger-like projections inside your small intestines. Over time, the injured villi lose their ability to absorb nutrients from foods, and you become malnourished. Some parents and caregivers believe a gluten-free diet helps reduce the symptoms of autism, and that these symptoms get worse after gluten ingestion. While many brands of ketchup are gluten-free, some organic varieties do contain gluten.
On May 17, 2010, ConAgra announced that all Hunt’s ketchups are made with only 5 main ingredients: tomatoes, sugar, distilled vinegar, salt and other seasonings. There are no artificial ingredients or preservatives in any of the Hunt’s ketchup varieties. According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, tomatoes, sugar, salt and distilled vinegar are safe, gluten-free options if you have celiac disease. Gluten-free flavors of Hunt’s ketchup should not worsen symptoms of autism.
Many people mistakenly believe that the distilled vinegar in Hunt's ketchup and other foods contains gluten, since it’s often made from gluten-containing grains. However, the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center says the gluten proteins are distilled out during the manufacturing process, so the final product is gluten-free.
Once you’ve purchased a gluten-free variety of Hunt’s ketchup, store it in a separate part of your refrigerator from gluten-containing condiments and foods to avoid cross-contamination. Think carefully about the foods you’re serving with the ketchup. For example, bread and buns made with wheat contain a significant amount of gluten, as do many hot dogs and sausages. Other condiments, such as mustard or marinades, may be made from wheat or other gluten-containing grains.