Is beef gluten free?
Is beef gluten free? Fresh, plain beef, like other meat, is indeed gluten free. You need to be careful, though, of added ingredients. Always check any beef which is packaged as ready-to-cook. They may contain marinades, sauces, seasonings, and even bread crumbs, that are not safe to eat on a gluten free diet. If the package doesn’t list what the added ingredients are, it’s best to avoid them or check with the packager to verify. This goes for ground beef, too. Make sure the package says it’s 100% beef. Sometimes fillers and seasonings are added to pre-packaged burgers. In addition, fresh beef which is displayed unwrapped in a case alongside ready-to-cook items could be subject to cross-contamination.
Be careful when ordering beef in restaurants. Burgers often have fillers which contain gluten. Other beef dishes may be coated with flour or served with seasonings or sauces which contain gluten. Always ask about the preparation of a dish to be sure.
Is grain fed beef safe for a gluten free diet?
Some people are concerned that if cattle eat grain and then they eat the cattle, they will be consuming the gluten that the cattle ate. That’s not how it works. The cattle digest the grain, and the digestion process breaks down any gluten that they consume. Their bodies absorb the metabolized nutrients, not the whole gluten proteins. Therefore, fresh, pure beef is always gluten free, no matter what the animal ate.
Being an advocate of locally raised food, the bigger concern for me is commercially raised beef. At the very least, I would recommend organically raised beef. Cattle which are raised on non-organic commercial farms are fed antibiotics, growth hormones, genetically modified feed, and sometimes even cattle remains. They are confined to tight spaces and unable to move much. All of this makes for an animal that is not healthy, and why would you want to eat meat from such an animal? It only makes sense that a healthier animal produces healthier–and tastier!–meat.