Is chicken gluten free?
Is chicken gluten free? Fresh, plain chicken, like other meat, is indeed gluten free. You need to be careful, though, of added ingredients. Always check any chicken 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. Fresh chicken which is displayed unwrapped in a case alongside ready-to-cook items could be subject to cross-contamination.
Be careful when ordering chicken in restaurants. 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 chicken safe for a gluten free diet?
Some people are concerned that if chickens eat grain and then they eat the chicken, they will be consuming the gluten that the chicken ate. That’s not how it works. The chicken digests the grain, and the digestion process breaks down any gluten that it consumes. Its body absorbs the metabolized nutrients, not the whole gluten proteins. Therefore, fresh, pure chicken is always gluten free, no matter what it ate. Anyway, it’s not even common for chickens to be fed wheat in the first place.
Being an advocate of locally raised food, the bigger concern for me is commercially raised chicken. At the very least, I would recommend organically raised chicken. Chickens which are raised on non-organic commercial farms are fed antibiotics, growth hormones, genetically modified feed, and sometimes even chicken remains. They are confined to tight spaces and are 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. I’m lucky to have access to Amish-raised chicken. Those things are enormous! And it’s spoiled me for any other chicken. The flavor difference is unbelievable.