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Does Cheese Have Gluten?


Creamy, leaf-wrapped blue cheese broken apart with a knife
Q
I’ve just been advised by my allergist to go gluten-free. Does that mean I have to give up cheese?
A
Unless your doctor has given you specific advice to the contrary, cheese is not only safe to eat in a gluten-free diet, it can be a great addition given its high nutritional value. There are, however, a couple of varieties of cheese—namely blue cheese and processed cheese—that warrant special consideration.

While many blue cheeses use molds that are lab grown, certain other varieties of blue-veined cheese use molds that have been harvested from bread, most notably French Roquefort. Such cheeses have been said to contain trace amounts of gluten. In an effort to evaluate this claim, the Canadian Celiac Association has conducted scientific tests on Roquefort cheese (and others) as well as directly on bread-harvested Penicillium roqueforti mold. They determined that the end products are, in fact, gluten-free. The Gluten Intolerance Group of America similarly lists blue cheese alongside other cheese as being safe in a gluten-free diet. So, my advice would be to go ahead and go for the blues.

Processed cheese, on the other hand, may contain any number of flavor or texture additives that can be gluten-based. While some may be fine, I suggest checking the label closely for any additives or avoiding processed cheese altogether.

Richard Sutton

Richard Sutton quit the world of banking in 2001 and, armed with a lifelong love of cheese, moved to London and managed Paxton & Whitfield, a 200-year-old cheese shop on Jermyn Street. In 2006 he and his wife, Danielle, returned to the U.S.. and opened the St. James Cheese Company, a grand retail shop in uptown New Orleans filled with Richard’s selection of artisanal cheeses from around the world. Photo by Kristy May