Gluten-Free vs. Gluten-Friendly – What’s the Difference?

In 2014, the FDA came out with a definition of “gluten-free” for food manufacturers who wanted to use the term on their labels. The set of guidelines they provided for gluten-free labeling also applies to restaurants and bakeries that wish to use the term “gluten-free” on their menus or menu boards.

Let’s take a look at the official guidelines so you can ensure your gluten-free products are in line with the FDA’s standards:

  • The food item must be inherently gluten-free (i.e., food that naturally doesn’t contain gluten). The food item must be free of any gluten-containing grains, including wheat, barley, spelt, rye, kamut, or einkorn.
  • The food must not contain any substances made from gluten-containing grains that have been processed to remove the gluten (i.e., wheat starch).
  • The food item has fewer than 20 ppm of gluten if it is prepared in a gluten-containing facility where cross-contact may occur.

Gluten-Friendly: This is a term used by many restaurants that specialize in gluten-containing foods (i.e., pizzas, sandwiches, etc.) but also offer gluten-free options. It implies that the food may not be entirely gluten-free because it is prepared in the same kitchen as gluten-containing foods but it is okay for those with mild gluten sensitivities.

Made Without Gluten: This term indicates the product was intentionally made without gluten while leaving room for the fact that cross-contamination could have occurred.

Wheat-Free: Wheat has the highest concentration of gluten of all grains and many people who are sensitive to gluten do consume grains with lower gluten content, like spelt, rye, and barley. Just remember that just because a food is wheat-free does not mean it is gluten-free.

It’s important to keep in mind that since gluten-free labeling in restaurants and bakeries is voluntary, establishments do not have to label their foods as gluten-free even if they meet the above criteria.  There is no designated gluten-free symbol, nor a specific place where the gluten-free claim must appear on your menu or menu board.

What gluten-free or gluten-friendly products does Fresh & Natural Foods have to offer?

To assist you in finding the products you need, F&N has provided some informative signage to help find your gluten-free food products (of course, fresh produce and meat are naturally gluten-free).

Here is a list of the types of products that you will find at Fresh & Natural that are gluten-free (GF) with a few of the brand names:

GF waffles – Field Day

GF muffin mixes – King Arthur

GF pancake mixes – Namaste

GF bread – Canyon

GF rolls – Food For Life

GF cereals – Forager

GF tortillas – Whole Grain Milling

GF bagged popcorn – Skinny Pop

GF crackers – Simple Mills; RW Garcia

GF Flour – Bob’s Red Mill; One for One; Namaste

GF pasta – Jovial; Chickpea

GF protein bars – Kashi; Kind

GF croutons/stuffing – Ener-G; Valley’s Own

GF cookies/muffins/bars – Bittersweet Bakery; Alternative Baking Company

GF pizza – Daiya

GF entrees – Amy’s; Caesar’s CK Kitchen; Katz

The F&N Deli offers several gluten-friendly items that are made from scratch:

  • GF bars
  • GF cookies
  • GF pasta/entrees – labeled from the hot bar

Enjoy these delicious gluten-friendly fresh baked items!

Author: Michelle Hanson

Michelle Hanson, MA, RD, LD is Fresh & Natural Food’s Registered Dietitian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics with a minor in Community Health from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a registered dietitian and current member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Michelle has been a nutrition consultant for numerous years as well as a nutrition research director at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Michelle is passionate about food and nutrition and believes in helping people find simple, realistic ways to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lifestyle.
If you are interested in meeting Michelle or have questions for her, you can email her at: She will look forward to meeting you!