Wheat Allergy

Learn about wheat allergy, how to read food labels and how to avoid eating wheat.

Wheat allergy is most common in children. People usually outgrow this food allergy before adulthood, often by age three.

Keep a wallet sized reference card with you of all the technical and scientific terms wherever you go with a How to Read a Wheat Label card

Allergic Reactions to Wheat

Symptoms of a wheat allergy reaction can range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis. Allergic reactions can be unpredictable, and even very small amounts of wheat can cause one.

If you have a wheat allergy, keep an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen® , Auvi-Q or Adrenaclick®) with you at all times. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis.

Avoiding Wheat

To prevent a reaction, it is very important that you avoid wheat. Always read food labels and ask questions about ingredients before eating a food that you have not prepared yourself.

Wheat is the most common grain product in the United States. You can still eat a wide variety of foods, but the grain source must be something other than wheat. Look for other grains such as amaranth, barley, corn, oat, quinoa, rice, rye and tapioca.

A combination of wheat-free flours usually works best for baking. Experiment with different blends to find one that will give you the texture you desire.

Wheat is one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on packaged foods sold in the U.S., as required by federal law. Download our resource on how to identify wheat on food labels.

Avoid foods that contain wheat or any of these ingredients:

  • Bread crumbs
  • Bulgur
  • Cereal extract
  • Club wheat
  • Couscous
  • Cracker meal
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Farina
  • Flour (all-purpose, bread, cake, durum, enriched, graham, high-gluten, high-protein, instant, pastry, self-rising, soft wheat, steel ground, stone ground, whole wheat)
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Kamut®
  • Matzoh, matzoh meal (also spelled as matzo, matzah or matza)
  • Pasta
  • Seitan
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Sprouted wheat
  • Triticale
  • Vital wheat gluten
  • Wheat (bran, durum, germ, gluten, grass, malt, sprouts, starch)
  • Wheat bran hydrolysate
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Wheat grass
  • Wheat protein isolate
  • Whole wheat berries

Buckwheat is not related to wheat and is considered safe to eat.

Wheat is sometimes found in the following:

  • Glucose syrup
  • Soy sauce
  • Starch (gelatinized starch, modified starch, modified food starch, vegetable starch)
  • Surimi

Some Unexpected Sources of Wheat

  • Ale
  • Asian dishes can feature wheat flour flavored and shaped to look like beef, pork and shrimp.
  • Baked goods
  • Baking mixes
  • Batter-fried foods
  • Beer
  • Breaded foods
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Candy
  • Country-style wreaths are often decorated with wheat products
  • Crackers
  • Hot dogs
  • Imitation crab meat
  • Ice cream
  • Marinara sauce
  • Play dough
  • Potato chips
  • Processed meats
  • Rice cakes
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces
  • Soups
  • Turkey patties

Allergens are not always present in these foods and products, but wheat can appear in surprising places. Again, read food labels—even if you wouldn’t usually expect to find wheat. Ask questions if you’re ever unsure about an item’s ingredients.

In the Know