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Hidden Wheat That Will Be Sure To Shock You!

Wheat - It's Peekaboo Time...

Have you ever had patches of dry skin (dermatitis), red patches after getting out of the shower, coughs or respiratory issues such as asthma? Have you tried to cut out wheat but still have the dry skin or a poorly tum? Don’t worry we have been there too…

As you know I was diagnosed with Coeliac at the tender age of 18 months and the obvious thing to do, to live a life Gluten Free, is to stop eating cakes, pasta and bread right? Yes, I thought that too. I wanted to share where those pesky wheat proteins are hiding - peekaboo - I will find you, Wheat! In my journey of discovery, I found some really interesting information and although each year food labelling is improving, we are still a long way from being perfect in the UK.

Hidden Wheat

Hidden wheat in foods

Bread, pasta and cakes – pretty easy to get to grips with these foods containing wheat and gluten. Things get a little trickier with understanding why oats are ok (sometimes) and why it’s a no to couscous but quinoa is a thumbs up. Don’t worry I am with you, it can be baffling, thank god for all products containing wheat/gluten being labelled, right?

Well no as I have recently discovered. You can probably guess my horror when I learnt that makeup, hygiene products, and alcohol are not required to state on the label that they have products derived from wheat or gluten (UK or US). So, I thought I would list out some products below that you may never have guessed contain gluten… and no I am not joking on some of them.!


  • Soy sauce – contains fermented Wheat
  • Marmite – my last blog highlighted this cheeky one
  • Whisky and other distilled alcohol, made from a mash of different grains predominantly Barley, Malted Barley, Rye, or Wheat.
  • Bacon bits (you know the ones on the salad cart in Harvester) – that’s a proper hidden one that!
  • Horlicks – yep that milky drink, is made from a mix of grains
  • Play-Doh – kind of a food if you're a toddler ;-)
  • Pickled foods – with malt vinegar derived from Wheat (goodbye pickles)
  • Liquorice – Wheat is one of the top ingredients
  • Sauces and Condiments (but not ours!) – thickeners again yikes!

Random products

hidden wheat in make up

  • Vitamins and supplements – Wheat is used as a binder
  • Stamps and envelopes – I can no longer look at the queen’s head in the same way!
  • Makeup – foundations, powders, pretty much the whole makeup bag 
  • Shampoo and body wash – this explains my red patches after a shower grrr!
  • Hair Dye

Now you may be thinking how have I gone all this time without realising that the above products contained Wheat and/or Gluten? I like to think I am a semi-intelligent person (I mean I can work out how to get dressed in the morning and leave the house with a pair of shoes on – even if the socks are mismatched). Well sadly it can be hidden in products as it is often referred to by the following aliases on labels:

  • Dextrin
  • Fermented grain extract
  • Hordeum distichon
  • Hordeum vulgare
  • Hydrolysate
  • Hydrolyzed malt extract
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Maltodextrin
  • Phytosphingosine extract
  • Amino-peptide complex
  • Secale cereale
  • Triticum aestivum
  • Triticum Vulgare
  • Tocopherol/vitamin E
  • Yeast extract
  • Natural Flavouring
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Modified food starch
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Caramel colour (frequently made from barley)

I feel a little bit better in my personal intelligence after that list, but that has been replaced by astonishment that all those fancy words above could be affecting my health as a lifelong Coeliac  – now there is an excuse for buying all new makeup!


Wheat and its impact on your Health!

So how can this hidden wheat and grain derivatives affect my health I hear you ask? Well pretty bad if you have Coeliac disease or Gluten Sensitivity (which might I add, a large proportion of the population has without even knowing!)

In a study of 1900 people by Teshima R in 2014, it highlighted that these 1900 individuals were suffering with ‘Wheat Dependent Exercise Induced Asthma (WDEIA)’ after using a soap containing hydrolyzed Wheat protein. In short, they were having asthmatic symptoms from using a soap that contained Wheat – yikes! Another study was conducted whereby asthma symptoms were analyzed in hairdressers exposed to hydrolyzed wheat proteins (hair dye and shampoos etc). We like to be scientific here at Hunter & Gather and provide top-notch studies, so please check out the references at the bottom of this blog for more information. Do also keep an eye on my blog page as I will be posting about why Wheat, Gluten, Grains and Sugars are detrimental to everyone’s health - Not just mine!

Now back to that pesky hidden wheat… Although there are mixed reviews on whether the Gluten protein can affect you in products that are not ingested (that’s eaten to you and me), you should still be cautious. As you search the internet there are countless examples of people having effects from certain shampoo, face creams and makeup who follow a Gluten Free diet due to either Gluten-Sensitivity or Coeliac Disease. So now I have blown your mind, I thought it would only be fair to highlight what you can do to avoid this hidden wheat and associated grain allergens:  

  • Do some of your own research – if you type in your makeup/soap brand you should be able to quickly discover if they use gluten-containing ingredients. If they do not say, I would steer clear.
  • Download the handy cut-out guide from and check the back of your body lotions, shampoo and toiletries
  • Follow Hunter & Gather on social media as our products and recipes are Gluten and Wheat free – even the ones we share on Facebook.
  • Try making some of your own toiletries at home. I hear egg white and cider vinegar makes a great shampoo and avocado oil is great as a moisturizer, conditioner and shaving balm!

Now, I don’t know about you but I am going to sit back with a cup of tea (no hidden wheat and of course sugar-free), buy myself some new makeup and throw out any hidden wheat shampoo! Do let me know if you notice any other pesky hidden wheat, we are in this together J. I’m signing off another day as the Coeliac girl, learning that it is down to ourselves to understand and take responsibility for what is good for our own bodies and well-being. I wonder what else my Gluten Free life will educate me on…  


All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.

It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.

We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.



Teshima R in 2014 (Food allergen in cosmetics.  Yakugaku Zasshi. 2014;134(1):33-8)
(Airaksinen L, Pallasaho P, Voutilainen R, Pesonen M.  Occupational rhinitis, asthma, and contact urticaria caused by the hydrolyzed wheat protein in hairdressers.  Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Dec;111(6):577-9. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.09.025).

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