Are Trader Joe’s Spices Gluten Free, contains affiliate links. While this article is not sponsored, I have partnered with Nima Sensor in the past. Please see my disclosures to learn how I work with brands.
A big question in the gluten-free community is, “Are spices gluten free?” This is a loaded question and one that I do not feel comfortable answering with full confidence as the answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no.
That said, I would like to attempt to shed some light on this topic as so many people in the gluten-free community wonder if spices are gluten free.
In this article, I will discuss the following:
- What it takes for a spice to be considered gluten free
- Are Trader Joe’s spices gluten free? I tested four of them and you’ll be shocked at the results!
- What popular brands make gluten-free spices that are safe for you to enjoy
Please read this full article to get all the answers you’ve been looking for.
What Does a Gluten-Free Label Mean?
For a store-bought spice to be labeled “gluten free,” is must not contain any gluten ingredients, and must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten per the FDA’s gluten-free labeling guidelines.
When you look at a spice ingredient list, however, you typically only see one spice listed, such as basil, oregano, or cumin. You rarely see other ingredients or disclosures statements.
Therefore, because the spice says it only contains oregano, and you know oregano is gluten free, you might think that the spice is free and clear of gluten.
However, we know that gluten can lurk in hidden places, and that spices can come in contact with gluten during the manufacturing process.
Related Reading: What Does “May Contain Wheat” Mean?
Trader Joe’s only includes the ingredient listed in the spice on its label, with no other allergen disclosures.
And while Trader Joe’s does NOT claim its spices to be gluten free, the company has omitted the fact that its spices may contain gluten. After doing this eye-opening test, I have hit the stop button on using Trader Joe’s spices altogether.
I tested four of Trader Joe’s spices with my Nima Sensor for hidden gluten, and well, the results are spotty at best.
Related Reading: 13 Things You Need to Know about the Nima Sensor
A Nima Sensor is a portable gluten detecting device that enables you to test a small portion of your food for hidden gluten. I’ve tested dozens of restaurants for hidden gluten over the years.
Related Reading: Nima Tested Archives – a full list of restaurants and products I’ve tested for hidden gluten
I’ve also tested dozens of products for hidden gluten and share the results on my blog as well as on Instagram. Here are some of the tests I’ve done prior to this one:
- I tested a handful of Kirkland brand products from Costco – see the results here.
- I tested 13 products from Trader Joe’s for hidden gluten – see the results here.
- I tested more than a dozen gluten-free frozen pizzas for hidden gluten – see the results here.
- I tested over a dozen spices for hidden gluten – see the results here. (Please note I published this article on the Nima Sensor blog.)
Are Trader Joe’s Spices Gluten Free?
Today’s article, however, is dedicated to testing four Trader Joe’s spices for hidden gluten using my Nima Sensor.
None of these spices list any questionable ingredients that would make me take pause; however, none are labeled “gluten free,” either.
When Nima displays a smiley face, it means it found no gluten. If it displays a wheat symbol and “gluten found” message, it means it found gluten.
To accurately test each spice, I added a few drops of water to the test capsule to dilute the spices as instructed by the Nima Sensor user manual.
Here are the results:
Spice Tested: Trader Joe’s Basil
Result: No gluten found
Spice Tested: Trader Joe’s Chili Powder
Result: No Gluten Found
Spice Tested: Trader Joe’s Ground Cumin
Result: Gluten Found
Please note that I always test an item twice when Nima finds gluten. I want to be extra certain that the result is accurate.
You can see below that both Nima Sensor test capsules are showing three lines, clearly indicating gluten found.
Related Reading: Is the Nima Sensor Accurate?
Spice Tested: Trader Joe’s Oregano
Result: No Gluten Found
I never like to see “gluten found” messages on anything, and this article certainly does not help to calm any fears you have about whether or not spices are gluten free.
What Spice Brands Are Gluten Free?
I realize this article may confuse you as it sheds light on the fact that gluten can be hidden anywhere, even in innocent spices from Trader Joe’s.
To protect yourself, your best bet is to purchase certified gluten-free spices. Then you know you’re safe.
If you can’t purchase certified gluten-free spices, or you’re eating food prepared for you by someone where the spice source is unknown, you can always protect yourself from hidden gluten exposure by testing your food – or spices – with a Nima Sensor.
You’ll need to use a new test capsule every time you test an item, and this can really add up cost-wise.
Further, I did a little research for you to help you determine which brands are free and clear of gluten. This will hopefully put your mind at ease that not all hope is lost.
Of course, you can make your own best judgements based on the following information provided by each spice brand.
Spicely Organics: Spicely says all its spices are produced in a dedicated, gluten-free facility and are certified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group.
Spicely spices do not contain gluten, nor come in contact with any ingredients that do.
Frontier Co-Op: On the Frontier website, the company writes, “While spices and herbs are naturally gluten free, we do not test for gluten in all products, only those certified gluten free (by GFCO) under our Simply Organic brand.
“We don’t make gluten-free claims for any other products because even tiny amounts of gluten can be a problem, and these may be present in our facility or the facilities of our suppliers.”
McCormick: McCormick writes on its website, “Gluten and gluten products, when present, will always be declared on the product label by the common name of the gluten source such as “barley”, “wheat”, “rye”, “oats” or “triticale”.
“It is important that you always read the ingredient statement on your package at the time of purchase to ensure accurate, up to date information, as product formulas may change.
“Our McCormick facilities have allergen, sanitation, and hygiene programs in place. Our employees follow good manufacturing practices and are trained in the importance of correct labeling and the necessity of performing thorough equipment clean-up and change over procedures to minimize cross-contact of ingredients.
“If any product has a gluten free claim, the product and the manufacturing line has been validated gluten free.”
The Spice Hunter: The Spice Hunter says on its website, “Our spices and spice blends do not contain gluten. Our Organic Dip & Seasoning Mixes, Turkey Brines, and Global Fusion Rubs are certified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group.”
The Spice Hunter also lists the following spices as certified gluten free:
Durkee: Here is the official statement I received from B&G Foods, Inc., the makers of Spice Island, Tone’s, and Durkee products:
“We always appreciate hearing from our consumers and welcome comments and questions.
“We do not maintain a list of gluten free spices nor are we currently testing for gluten. However, single ingredient spices (those that contain only spices and do not have any additional ingredients) are inherently gluten free. We have a strong allergen clean out policy that has been validated to ensure that there is no allergen cross contamination at the plant. Since ingredients and facilities may change from time to time, always check the label on a specific product for current ingredient and allergen information.”
Spice It Up Baby!
I know so many of you have wondered if your spices are gluten free. It’s definitely hard to know what brands you can trust these days.
The best course of action is to:
- Purchase gluten-free labeled spices only, or even better, purchase only certified gluten-free spices like those from Spicely.
- Read ingredient labels and disclosure statements carefully.
- Contact the manufacturer for clarifications, and when in doubt, don’t.
- Test your spices for hidden gluten with your Nima Sensor.
I hope this helps to ease your mind about what spices are – and aren’t – safe for you to enjoy. Happy safe gluten-free eating, friends.