If you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle, bacon is probably not going to be very high on your list. But sometimes it’s difficult to resist the overwhelming power of bacon. It just goes so well with everything and, unless you are a vegan or vegetarian, it’s delicious all on its own. But is it also gluten-free?
Unless you go for some strange, generic off-brand, bacon is generally gluten-free. In fact, the top brands of bacon, Butterball, Boar’s Head, and Oscar Mayer are all gluten-free bacon brands.
You have probably come across packs of bacon that carried the label—’gluten-free’. So, why bother with the label if all bacon is gluten-free? Cross-contamination is the problem and the gluten-free label is there because it’s the company’s guarantee that the bacon didn’t become cross-contaminated with gluten.
Why Is Bacon Gluten-Free?
Bacon is gluten-free assuming that none of the processing included any machines that are also used to process gluten products.
All bacon is “technically” gluten-free, however, not all bacon packaging facilities can truthfully label their bacon product as gluten-free because they know that it was processed with machines or instruments that also processed gluten products.
Fortunately, the brands that package their bacon with gluten-free labels do everything in their power to ensure that their bacon is gluten-free. That’s because if someone with Celiac Disease happened to eat a bacon product packaged under a gluten-free label and had a reaction, that brand would be wide open to an expensive lawsuit.
The following brands either label their packages with gluten-free stickers or are known for being gluten-free because their facilities don’t process anything with gluten in it:
- Boar’s Head
- Oscar Mayer
- Dakin Farm
- Dietz & Watson
- Jones Dairy Farm
- Wellshire Farms
- Applegate Farms
Bacon is a combination of pork belly, nitrates, a variety of spices, sugars, and salt. The reason that some bacon may have gluten in them is not that the bacon comes with gluten. It’s because some of the flavorings used to package the bacon may have gluten in their ingredients.
You typically see this with specialized bacon packages, such as smoked bacon. Some of those flavorings are themselves made with ingredients that include gluten, so you have to be careful with bacon that is packaged and not labeled with a gluten-free sticker.
Our above list of gluten-free bacon providers is pretty much an overview. There are many more of them out there and our list would look really ridiculous if we included all of them. So long as you keep your eyes peeled for that gluten-free sticker, you should be fine.
If you don’t see a gluten-free sticker, feel free to jump online and look up that specific brand of bacon to find out for sure before you head to the store and make your purchase.
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Best Gluten-Free Bacon Brands
You’re always taking a risk if you purchase bacon that doesn’t have the gluten-free label on it. While all bacon is inherently gluten-free, that doesn’t mean there was no cross-contamination in the process.
According to Beeler’s, all of their products are completely gluten-free and they make a lot of different flavorings for their bacon packages. Those flavors include, hickory smoked, sugar-free, garlic pepper, applewood smoked, hardwood smoked, British back, jalapeno, and two non-GMO brands of bacon.
If you are truly trying to go as organic as possible and can’t tolerate gluten, Beeler’s Non-GMO Hickory Smoked and Non-GMO Half Pork Belly bacon brands are as close as you’re going to get.
Dakin Farm is a bit difficult and if you want to be completely gluten-free, you may want to avoid Dakin Farm altogether. The last time Dakin Farm representatives were questioned about the gluten-free status of their bacon products, they made no guarantees.
While Dakin Farm offers several savory bacon options, there’s just no reason to believe you might get lucky and not end up consuming small amounts of gluten.
Nodine’s Smokehouse makes similar claims as those of Dakin Farms. There is no guarantee that some of the bacon products that Nodine’s Smokehouse puts out will be entirely gluten-free. In fact, there are at least two products that are known to have gluten from Nodine’s.
The odds of the rest of the bacon not having some exposure to gluten are probably slim and nill.
This is probably one of the best companies for labeling their packages and creating monitored procedures that ensure their bacon products are not cross-contaminated. You can mark Oscar Mayer down as one of the more dependable brands.
Hatfield lists three of their bacon products as being gluten-free and their packages are labeled with gluten-free stickers as well. Their Cherrywood Smoked Bacon, Maple Brown Sugar Extra Thick, and their Hickory Extra Thick bacon brands are labeled as gluten-free products.
Is Turkey Bacon Gluten-Free?
Turkey bacon is a popular alternative to bacon because it is supposed to be the far healthier option between the two. Turkey bacon is nowhere near the same ballpark as bacon, at least when it comes down to being gluten-free.
That’s because turkey bacon often contains an ingredient that is entirely gluten but it isn’t labeled as such. Autolyzed yeast extract is gluten and there are no two ways about it. If you are looking for a healthier alternative to bacon that also has to be gluten-free, turkey bacon is not going to be one of them.
According to most experts, if you are on a gluten-free diet or if you have Celiac Disease, you need to stay away from any product that contains autolyzed yeast extract, because it will affect you just like anything else with gluten in it will.
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For the most part, bacon is completely gluten-free and most companies are pretty good at staying on top of the labeling process to keep their potential consumers informed. However, if you come across bacon that lacks a gluten-free label, proceed at your own risk.
It’s entirely possible that bacon lacking a gluten-free label is processed with the same machinery that processed gluten, contaminating the bacon when it goes through the process later.