Foods Labeled Gluten-Free Yet Containing Barley Malt Ingredients

Foods Labeled Gluten-Free Yet Containing Barley Malt Ingredients

NEW Product Alert (October 25, 2017): Great Value (Walmart) salt and vinegar chips. Product is labeled gluten-free yet “malt vinegar powder” is included in the ingredients list.

NEW Product Alert (October 25, 2017): Goodie Girl Cookies Toffee Crunch. While the manufacturer states on their website that products do not contain malt extract, incorrect product packaging remains on store shelves (the product is labeled gluten-free & the ingredients list includes “malt extract”).

NEW Product Alert (October 11, 2017): Mission Hill Bistro Beef Pot Roast with Homestyle Gravy: Labeled gluten-free yet the ingredients list includes “barley malt extract.” This product was purchased at Costco. The USDA has been notified.

Product Alert (October 10, 2016): Kroger brand Yogurt & Berries Mini Rice Cakes. This product is labeled gluten-free and contains the ingredient “malted barley extract.” For product photos please click HERE Kroger has been contacted. Kroger believes they are in compliance with the FDA labeling rule because the product tests below 20 ppm of gluten and the barley ingredient is highly processed. UPDATE (August 10, 2017): This product remains on store shelves despite Kroger stating in November 2016 that the product had been reformulated to remove the malted barley extract. Regardless, 9 months later product is available on store shelves with a best before date of March 2018. 

NEW Product Alert (September 2016): American BBQ Company Craft Beer Baby Back Pork Ribs are labeled gluten-free yet contain malted barley. The manufacturer has been contacted. A customer service representative responded to my email stating that they do have a sketch approval from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for this label. They also stated that the label in question is an older label and that they have “refreshed” the packaging for this product and it is no longer labeled gluten-free. I have followed up with the company asking if they plan to remove the ribs currently on store shelves that are labeled gluten-free. I have also contacted the USDA to ask if the label approval was an oversight. USDA responded to my email stating that they are NOT approving gluten-free claims with malted barley.

PRODUCT ALERT (August 9, 2016): Kroger brand salt & vinegar chips. These chips are labeled gluten-free yet contain as an ingredient “malt vinegar powder” in the seasoning mix. For product photos click HERE.

PRODUCT ALERT (April 20, 2016): Attain Nutrition Shake by Melaleuca: Labeled gluten-free yet ingredients list includes “barley flour.” For product photos click HERE. Melaleuca has been contacted.

PRODUCT ALERT (April 15, 2016): Sam Mills Granola (Buckwheat, Millet, and Amaranth variety): This cereal contains “gluten-free barley malt.” It is made by Emco in the Czech Republic for Sam Mills. For product photos click HERE. Sam Mills has been contacted.

PRODUCT ALERT (April 12, 2016): Emco Gluten-Free Granola (Honey & Nuts variety): This product contains “gluten-free barley malt.” It is made by the same manufacturer of the Aldi and Sam Mills granola bars discussed below. This cereal is imported to the US from the Czech Republic. For product photos click HERE. Emco has been contacted.


The ingredients “malt” “malt extract” and “malt syrup” from barley are NOT allowed in gluten-free foods in the United States. It does not matter if your products have been certified gluten-free by Coeliac UK or by any other certification organization. It also does not matter if your final food product contains less than 20 ppm gluten using the sandwich R5 ELISA.

Please be aware of the following products labeled gluten-free yet containing malt ingredients (ingredients have been confirmed via photos of product packaging sent to me by consumers and through forwarded email correspondence from manufacturers to consumers). I have not yet had a chance to contact all manufacturers on this list. If you come across a product labeled gluten-free yet containing malt, malt extract, or malt syrup please send photos of the gluten-free claim on product packaging, ingredients list, UPC code, expiration/best by date, and lot number. Thank you to everyone who provided information on the following products:

  • Aldi Live G Free Granola Bars (all varieties) These bars contain barley malt extract. The decision was made January 15, 2016 to pull these bars from store shelves. Sam Mills, the importer of the granola bar emailed me this morning (January 16, 2016). They hope to have all bars removed from all stores by Wednesday (January 20, 2016).
  • Bosco Chocolate Syrup (current as of January 2016) This syrup contains malt extract (confirmed by the manufacturer to be barley). UPDATE February 5, 2016: The following information was just provided by Bosco, “The malt extract previously used in Bosco Chocolate Syrup was a very small component of the formula. The particular malt extract was processed to have an extremely low level of gluten, resulting in an undetectable level of gluten in our product (laboratory reported as <5 ppm). As this level was well below the FDA definition of a gluten free product of <20 ppm, we believed this would have been satisfactory to make the gluten free claim. Upon contacting the Gluten Intolerance Group to seek their certification for the product last year, it was pointed out that malt extract cannot be included at any level in products making a gluten free claim. To avoid any misinterpretation, we proactively have removed malt extract from the formula and received certification by Gluten Intolerance Group, with new labeling to display their logo.” I am in the process of clarifying with Bosco what they are doing regarding inventory that remains on store shelves. UPDATE February 9, 2016: I have spoken with Bosco. They are issuing a market withdrawal at the warehouse level. However, at this time there are no plans to remove this syrup from store shelves as Bosco believes there is “no health threat.” According to Bosco they are in the process of reformulating their syrup. Malt extract will no longer be used. The new formulation is not yet available. If you plan to purchase this product please read the ingredients list carefully to make sure you are buying a product without malt extract. I just purchased a bottle of chocolate syrup labeled gluten-free and containing malt extract with a best by date of August 2017. This product could be on store shelves for awhile.
  • Burt’s Guinness Chips (current as of January 2016) These chips contain barley malt extract powder. UPDATE February 3, 2016: Burt’s Chips contacted me by phone. They are removing the gluten-free claim from the three chip flavors containing barley malt ingredients. Please continue to read ingredients lists. This labeling change is taking place during the next print run in March. Product labeled gluten-free yet containing malt ingredients will remain on store shelves for a period of time.
  • NEW ADDED JANUARY 29: Kozlik’s Black Harp Mustard This mustard contains “stout” which has been confirmed by the manufacturer to be Guinness (which contains malted barley). UPDATE FEBRUARY 16, 2016: Kozlik’s contacted me by phone: They are removing the gluten-free claim from this flavor of mustard. No additional Black Harp mustard will be shipped to the US until the labeling change is made. Distributors and sales reps in the US are also being notified and asked to alert stores that Black Harp is not gluten-free and to cross out the gluten-free claim with a black sharpie.
  • Sam Mills Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (current as of January 2016) These bars contain gluten-free malt extract from barley (I am in the process of confirming whether this bar is being removed from store shelves. Both the Aldi bars and Sam Mills bars are made by Emco in the Czech Republic and imported by Sam Mills). This is the only variety of bar that contains this ingredient.
  • Quorn Grounds (current as of January 2016) These grounds contain “gluten-free roasted barley malt extract.” UPDATE FEBRUARY 23, 2016: Quorn and I spoke via Conference call this morning. Quorn will be removing the gluten-free labeling claim from products containing “gluten-free roasted barley malt extract.” According to Quorn, the extract they use consistently tests below 10 ppm gluten using the competitive R5 ELISA. Regardless, this ingredient currently is not allowed in foods labeled gluten-free in the US. I have asked Quorn to send me information about this ingredient and the process used to render the malt extract gluten-free. Use of this ingredient is one of the major differences between gluten-free rules in the US and the EU.
  • NEW ADDED FEBRUARY 4: Tyrell’s Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar Chips These chips contain “dried malt vinegar.” UPDATE MARCH 10, 2016: Tyrell’s confirmed this morning that they will be changing the packaging for these chips. UPDATE MARCH 16, 2016: Tyrells’s notified me that the changes to labeling will likely take place during the next print run. Please continue to read ingredients lists carefully as product could remain on store shelves for a period of time.


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Comments (9)

  • Katy Reply

    I’ve read on several blogs that Aldi’s gluten-free pasta from Romania is suspected to be made by Sam Mills. It seems to make sense because how many big gluten-free manufacturers are in Romania On your list you have Aldi’s granola bars and Sam Mills granola bars – perhaps all the same with different labels?

    What concerns me about your article is that Aldi’s puts gluten-free labels on every product. Now, I definitely won’t believe those labels – I’ll recheck everything very carefully.

    Thanks for your diligence in protecting everybody.

    January 17, 2016 at 7:33 pm
  • Rya Reply

    So if a product is manufactured in a foreign country, are they required to meet US labeling laws or do they simply label it an imported item? Aldi carries multiple products manufactured in Europe, none of which I will purchase after a couple of bad experiences with no indication of gluten ingredients on the label. However, it seems it may not be as clear cut as I thought.

    January 22, 2016 at 7:48 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Hi Rya, All food sold in the US, including imported products, must comply with US labeling laws. BUT this doesn’t mean that foreign manufacturers know US labeling law. The FDA does not have a prior label approval process so there is no guarantee that manufacturers are in compliance (as we are seeing).

      January 22, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Thank you for all your fine work!

    Perhaps all the non-compliance/mislabeling in GF prepared foods is a good reminder that there is more safety for us when we purchase actual, real food and cook it.

    Signed: A healthy Celiac, diagnosed 25 years ago at a time when my M.D. said there were only 3000 of us labeled as such in the U.S.

    August 24, 2017 at 2:46 pm
  • Susan Leigh Reply

    Thank you for so much important information. I have been Celiac for at least 20 years. Having more choices is wonderful, but not so much if the labeling is incorrect or misleading. The FDA needs to tighten up on labeling. Barley seems to be a problem with many products. I recently looked at cereals, stating “rice” all over the package, only to find malt barley in the ingredients. They do not say GF, but it is still misleading for someone inexperienced. Last week, I purchased a package of chips by Sami’s Bakery. The owner of the health food store assured me they were GF. However, upon reading the GF labeling, I discovered a disclaimer at the bottom, stating there are traces of wheat in the products. I know they are not a dedicated facility, so I called the owner. She assures me, their products are GF. Sorry, but I do not trust it. Life is busy enough, without having to read every line and every label just to shop for food.

    October 3, 2017 at 12:10 pm
  • Florence Unrau Reply

    Some perfectly delicious chocolate has no barley malt…while other chocolate bars have barley malt. So why is it used at all?Florence

    January 2, 2018 at 4:13 am
  • Lim Chai Ling Reply

    Thank you for so much information. I have come across a chocolate beverage (EcoBrown’s chocolate wholegrain rice drink) which labeled as gluten-free. But, when I looked into the list of ingredients, I found out one of the ingredients they used is malt extract. I have contacted the manufacturer, they said they used only a small amount of malt extract during processing. They said have sent the finalized product for lab test and the results showed that the gluten is not present in their product.

    October 11, 2018 at 1:47 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Are you located in the US? If so, malt extract from barley is not allowed in foods labeled gluten-free, regardless of test results. It also doesn’t matter if the amount of malt extract used is small.

      October 16, 2018 at 8:51 pm

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