Are all Rao’s sauces gluten free?

Rao’s is a popular brand of pasta sauces that are known for their high quality ingredients and authentic Italian flavors. Many people wonder if Rao’s sauces are gluten free, especially those following a gluten free diet due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. This article will provide a thorough overview of Rao’s sauce ingredients and manufacturing practices to determine if all Rao’s sauces can be considered gluten free.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. This can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and skin rashes. The only treatment for celiac disease is following a strict lifelong gluten free diet by avoiding all foods and products containing gluten. People with gluten sensitivity may also need to avoid gluten to prevent symptoms.

Why is gluten an issue in pasta sauces?

Pasta sauces contain ingredients that may naturally contain gluten or have a risk of gluten cross-contamination. Potential sources of gluten in pasta sauce include:

– Wheat flour – Used as a thickening agent in some pasta sauces. wheat flour contains gluten.

– Grains – Some pasta sauces contain barley, rye, or other gluten containing grains.

– Malt vinegar – Derived from barley and contains gluten.

– Soy sauce – May contain wheat and gluten unless labeled gluten free.

– Starch – Starches made from wheat contain gluten.

– Cross-contamination – Gluten can be introduced if equipment or facilities also process wheat products.

For people who need to avoid gluten, it’s important to carefully inspect pasta sauce labels for any gluten containing ingredients or risk of cross-contamination during manufacturing.

Are Rao’s sauces certified gluten free?

No, Rao’s sauces are not certified gluten free. Rao’s states on their website that their sauces are “gluten conscious”, meaning steps are taken to avoid gluten but there is still a risk of trace amounts of gluten. Rao’s products do not carry any gluten free certifications from organizations like the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO).

What ingredients are in Rao’s sauces?

Rao’s uses high quality whole ingredients like vine-ripened tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, onions, garlic, spices, and herbs to create their sauces. They do not add any wheat, barley, rye, or malt to their sauces.

According to Rao’s website, their sauce ingredients typically include:

– Tomatoes
– Extra virgin olive oil
– Onions
– Carrots
– Celery
– Garlic
– Sea salt
– Basil
– Oregano
– Black pepper
– Parsley
– Spices

Some sauces also contain ingredients like cream, cheese, peppers, anchovies, capers, olives, mushrooms, prosciutto, meat, and wine.

What manufacturing practices does Rao’s use?

Rao’s states that they follow certain procedures during manufacturing to reduce the risk of gluten cross-contamination:

– Sauce production areas are completely separate from any wheat product areas.
– Equipment is thoroughly cleaned between production runs.
– Ingredients are sourced from certified gluten free suppliers when possible.
– Employees follow good manufacturing practices and wear protective clothing.

However, Rao’s does not claim to be a dedicated gluten free facility. They admit there is still a possibility of trace gluten exposure.

What do Rao’s sauce labels say about gluten?

Rao’s sauce jars and cans include an allergen statement that the products are “processed in a facility that also processes wheat & wheat flour”. This indicates there is some risk of gluten cross-contact.

The labels do not include any claims that the sauces are gluten free or certified gluten free. The ingredients lists also do not mention any obvious sources of gluten like wheat, barley, rye, or malt.

Has Rao’s tested their sauces for gluten?

Rao’s does not provide any testing results for the gluten content of their sauces. The lack of gluten free certification and testing data means the gluten content of Rao’s sauces is unknown.

What do celiac disease and gluten intolerance groups say about Rao’s?

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance groups do not recommend Rao’s sauces for people who require a gluten free diet, due to the lack of certification and potential for cross-contamination:

– The Celiac Disease Foundation states Rao’s sauces are “not recommended” because they are made on shared equipment with wheat.

– The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) classes Rao’s as “not recommended/use caution” due to the wheat statement on labels.

– The National Celiac Association advises those with celiac disease to avoid Rao’s due to uncertainty over gluten content.

Should you consume Rao’s sauces on a gluten free diet?

Whether or not Rao’s sauces are safe to consume depends on your sensitivity level:

– People with celiac disease should avoid Rao’s due to the risk of trace gluten exposure. Even tiny amounts of gluten can trigger severe intestinal damage.

– People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be able to tolerate small, accidental amounts of gluten without reacting. Some may be able to consume Rao’s sauces without issue.

– People simply avoiding gluten out of preference or diet choice can more freely eat Rao’s sauces, since they do not face health consequences from gluten ingestion.

In general, Rao’s sauces are not recommended for those who require a strict gluten free diet for medical reasons. People who need to avoid gluten due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should opt for pasta sauces that are certified gluten free instead.

What Rao’s sauces are the safest choices?

If you decide to consume Rao’s despite the gluten risks, your safest options are Rao’s plain tomato sauces without mixes of ingredients. For example:

– Marinara Sauce
– Tomato Basil Sauce
– Arrabiata Sauce

Avoid more complex Rao’s sauces containing cheese, cream, vegetables, or other inclusions which increase the risk of gluten cross-contact during processing.

Also be sure to check labels each time you purchase, since ingredients can change without notice. Avoid any Rao’s sauces listing wheat, barley, rye or malt in the ingredients.

What about Rao’s soups and other products?

In addition to pasta sauces, Rao’s offers items like soups, baked goods, and salad dressings. These products are produced in the same facilities using shared equipment as Rao’s pasta sauces, and carry the same risk of gluten cross-contact. Rao’s soups, breads, and other items should also be avoided if you require a gluten free diet.

Are there any certified gluten free Rao’s products?

Currently, Rao’s offers one product that is certified gluten free – their line of Rao’s Homemade Marinara and Tomato Basil pasta sauces that come in 28 oz jars. These two sauces carry the GFCO gluten free certification logo on the label, meaning they have been third-party tested to verify gluten levels below 10ppm. These are the only Rao’s items deemed safe for a gluten free diet.

What about restaurant Rao’s sauces?

In addition to their retail products, Rao’s also operates a popular Italian restaurant in New York City. The pasta sauces served in the Rao’s restaurant are prepared from scratch in house and may differ from the jarred sauces found in stores. The restaurant does not have a dedicated gluten free kitchen. Patrons with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should exercise caution when dining at Rao’s restaurant and confirm the gluten status of any menu items.

Where to find certified gluten free pasta sauce alternatives to Rao’s

If you require gluten free pasta sauce, there are many reputable brands certified gluten free by GFCO available at grocery stores or online:

Brand Certified Gluten Free Sauces
Dei Fratelli Tomato Basil, Marinara, Arrabiata, Alfredo, Pesto
Victoria Organic Marinara, Tomato Basil, Rustic Italian, Garden Vegetable
Francesco Rinaldi Marinara, Tomato Basil, Chunky Garden Tomato, Robusto Italiano Organic
Amy’s Kitchen Marinara, Tomato Basil, Family Marinara, Light in Sodium
Muir Glen Organic Tomato Basil, Organic Chunky Tomato & Herb
Mezzetta Napoletana Sauce, Marinara, Five Onion Sauce
Classico Marinara, Tomato & Basil, Roasted Garlic

These sauces are produced in dedicated gluten free facilities and lab tested to ensure they contain less than 10ppm of gluten. They’re considered safe options for gluten free, wheat free, and celiac diets.

Tips for finding gluten free pasta sauce

When purchasing pasta sauce, keep the following tips in mind to find a gluten free option:

– Check labels carefully looking at the ingredients list and allergen statements

– Call the manufacturer if you have any doubts or questions

– Look for “gluten free” claims on the front of the label

– Look for trusted gluten free certifications like GFCO

– Stick to plain tomato-based sauces without complex ingredients

– Avoid sauces thickened with wheat flour or made with malt vinegar

– Opt for brands that make gluten free items exclusively if you are highly sensitive

– Look for sauces sold in glass jars to reduce cross-contact risks


Rao’s offers delicious premium pasta sauces, but their products do not meet the standards to be considered gluten free. Rao’s sauces are produced on shared equipment with wheat and have a risk of trace gluten, so they are not recommended for people who need to follow a strict gluten free diet due to medical reasons like celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Those with celiac especially should opt for certified gluten free brands of pasta sauce that test below 10ppm of gluten. People avoiding gluten for other reasons can more flexibly incorporate Rao’s into their diet, but should still take note of the gluten cross-contact risks when making purchasing decisions. When in doubt, contact Rao’s for their latest manufacturing details and guidance on the gluten status of their sauces.

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