Does gluten free mean a product is always wheat free?

No, gluten free does not always mean wheat free.

Some manufacturers use wheat that has had the gluten removed to make gluten free foods. A typical example is that some gluten free breads and rolls have wheat in them that has had the gluten removed to make them more like regular gluten containing versions, therefore although it's gluten free it's not wheat free.

Gluten free wheat starch is an expensive, difficult to source ingredient for most home bakers, it's generally only used by some of the larger gluten free product manufacturers.

This is what Coeliac UK states with reference to Codex wheat starch.

Juvela, a gluten free product manufacturer uses Codex wheat starch FAQs on gluten free Codex wheat starch. Scroll down the FAQ list until you find,

  • Your products contain Codex Wheat Starch – Is this safe for coeliacs? (Answer: We have been making gluten free foods specially for coeliacs for over 25 years, so you are in safe hands! Our bread and flour mixes contain Codex Wheat Starch (or gluten free wheat starch), which is a speciality product whereby the gluten has been removed from the wheat, making it safe for you. We use this because it gives our loaves and rolls the taste and texture of traditional bread and we believe coeliacs should have real bread too!)
  • Is Codex wheat starch safe for me to eat? (Answer: Yes. Codex wheat starch (or gluten free wheat starch) has been specially manufactured to make it safe for a gluten free diet. The gluten is washed out to leave only trace levels (less than 20 parts per million (ppm)), and this is safe for coeliacs to eat in unlimited amounts. The law on labelling of gluten free foods (Codex Alimentarius) means you can only label a food as ‘gluten free’ if it meets the criteria of containing less than 20ppm.)

This means if you have a wheat allergy or intolerance you need to read the ingredients list on gluten free breads, baked products, biscuits, cakes etc. carefully to ensure that the product does not contain codex wheat starch.

Therefore, all gluten free foods are not necessarily wheat free. As always, read the ingredients before eating.