Gluten Free Meat Dishes
One of the sneakiest food items that may contain the gluten protein are processed meats or meats packaged with spices that contain MSG or gluten emulsifiers. Sometimes deli's and other grocery aisle departments prepare elaborate or gourmet style meat dishes but fail to include all used ingredients that may contain the gluten protein. These would be meat dishes served directly in the meat department such as beef pinwheels or stuffed meats. Even rotisserie style chicken or other game birds that are prepared in store could also contain gluten through the spices or cross contamination of the cooking surface.
For those living with Celiac Disease and are on a gluten free diet, this can be detrimental to their digestive system and cause triggers that ignite a hypersensitive autoimmune response, making flares that much more difficult to temper or heal.
The best solution is to purchase meats that require the individual to add their own spices or stuffing mixes to avoid any cross contamination or accidental contamination due to mislabeling.
What to Avoid
Here are prepackaged key meats to avoid, unless they are labeled gluten free.
- Polish Sausage/ Kielbasa
- Breakfast Sausage
- Stuffed meats such as beef or pork pinwheels. Even some fish pinwheels should be avoided depending on the stuffing.
- Imitation Crab
- Imitation Lobster
- Breaded Deli Meats
- Breaded Fish
- Particular brands of sliced lunch meats
- Rotisserie style chickens or game birds
Large Events and Catering
Not all on the above listed will apply. It depends on the label. However, if a label is not available the best choice is to say no to that particular meat product and choose meats that you can prepare individually. Especially if you are planning a large event or a gathering in which you plan to cater your own food or even plan to supply a gluten free buffet for your guests, a little extra time and attention to preparing meats from scratch will be worth the effort. For BBQ events or other outdoor events, be sure to use utensils and grills that won't cause an issue with cross contamination. Even using a spatula to serve a burger patty on a bun for one person and just a burger patty to someone who will exclude bread products due to gluten, just that quick slip can cause a cross contamination situation. So be sure utensils are clear and free of bread crumbs and that the grill grates are coated with tin foil for the meats that need to be kept separate from other meats that contain gluten. As always, be careful of sauces and other condiments that could contain gluten. For example, some ketchup's are made with malt vinegar which is derived from grains.
At Home Meat Processing Equipment
Something that can be a lot of fun is to purchase smaller unit meat processing equipment that can grind, slice or package meats at home. Similar to industrial sized meat processing equipment, there are many at home varieties that won't break the bank and offer a great alternative for those who want the variety that is offered at grocery stores but is safe to consume by keeping the meats gluten free.
Buy in Bulk
Another great tip is to buy meats in bulk from local butchers or even invest in farm raised meats that are butchered at the end of season in which the meats can be portioned out and prepared individually by the butcher or consumer. This gives more control for the consumer on healthy alternatives that are more cost effective than packaged varieties.