Brewer’s Yeast and Gluten

Brewer’s Yeast and Gluten

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month 2018,

A series of bites, barks, tail wags, face licks, and pant tugs from Gluten Free Watchdog

May 29, 2018

Gluten Free Watchdog Pant Tug, Post # 29

Brewer’s Yeast and Gluten

Bottom Line: When used as an ingredient in a food product NOT labeled gluten-free, brewer’s yeast may contain gluten from malt and gluten-containing grain.

Some information about brewer’s yeast (and yes, it is confusing):

  • The term brewer’s yeast can refer to both the live yeast used to make beer and the spent yeast that is a by-product of the beer-brewing process.
    • Spent yeast is what is left of the yeast once it has been used to make beer.
  • Brewer’s yeast may be grown on non gluten-containing growth media, including sugar beets.
  • When brewer’s yeast is used in food as a flavoring agent, it is typically spent yeast.
    • As a result, it may be contaminated with small amounts of gluten-containing grain and malt.
  • Occasionally, food products sold in the U.S. list brewer’s yeast as an ingredient.
  • Currently, individuals with celiac disease in the U.S. are advised to avoid food products with brewer’s yeast that are not labeled gluten-free.

Yeast extract and autolyzed yeast extract also may be made from spent yeast. These ingredients should be avoided if their source is spent yeast.

Note: Yeast may be grown in a gluten-containing media. When a lab tests a product for gluten that contains live yeast, the yeast must be deactivated prior to testing to prevent interference with the testing assay. This deactivation does not impact the level of gluten that may be present in the growth media.

The above information is from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Pocket Guide to Gluten-Free Strategies for Clients with Multiple Diet Restrictions, Second Edition by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD. It is available from the Academy store.

Note: Consumers, the above book is meant primarily for dietitians. A good primer on food labeling is the booklet Celiac Disease Nutrition Guide, Third Edition by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD. It is available from Amazon

For more information on yeast, see

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Comments (2)

  • Florence Reply

    My sister is gluten free but she needs a good source of B Vitamins and I suggested the gluten free brewers yeast. It has so many health benefits! Is the gluten free brewers yeast worth trying? I do not want to make her sick.

    September 22, 2020 at 1:42 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Brewer’s yeast that is labeled gluten-free must comply with the FDA’s rule on gluten-free labeling.

      September 29, 2020 at 8:06 pm

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