Are Tate’s chocolate chip cookies gluten free?

Gluten free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people adopting them for health or personal reasons. For those avoiding gluten, navigating food labels and asking questions about ingredients can be a constant battle. Tate’s Bakery offers some of the most popular and delicious chocolate chip cookies on the market – but are they safe for gluten free diets?

What is gluten?

Gluten refers to a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For most people, gluten does not pose any health concerns. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an autoimmune response that attacks and damages the small intestine. This intestinal damage leads to uncomfortable symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. The only treatment for celiac disease is adopting a strict lifelong gluten free diet, avoiding any foods containing gluten proteins.

Common sources of gluten

Since gluten comes from grains, it is present in many common foods and ingredients:

  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Beer
  • Cakes and cookies
  • Crackers
  • Soy sauce
  • Salad dressings and sauces thickened with wheat flour

In addition, gluten can lurk in less obvious places, including processed luncheon meats, flavored coffee drinks, licorice candy, and more. It’s important for anyone following a gluten free diet to scrutinize labels and ask questions to avoid accidental exposure.

Are Tate’s cookies gluten free?

According to Tate’s Bakery’s website, none of their products are certified gluten free. While the cookie recipes themselves do not contain wheat flour or other gluten-containing grains, they are manufactured in facilities that also process wheat products. This means there is a risk of cross-contamination through shared equipment, and Tate’s does not currently test final products to verify non-detectable levels of gluten as required for gluten free certification.

However, Tate’s states that several of their cookie varieties, including the chocolate chip cookies, are made without wheat, rye, or barley and therefore do not directly contain gluten as ingredients. They advise that their cookies may be suitable for a gluten free diet, but urge those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities to make their own judgments.

Assessing suitability for a gluten free diet

For someone following a gluten free diet, whether or not to eat Tate’s cookies based on their manufacturing practices and disclaimer boils down to a personal tolerance assessment. Factors like individual sensitivity levels, the presence and severity of symptoms, and any risk factors like additional food allergies come into play. There are a few rules of thumb to consider when deciding if a food with gluten cross-contamination risk factors can fit into your gluten free diet:

  • If you have celiac disease or known wheat/gluten allergies, it is generally recommended to avoid any food where gluten cross-contamination is a possibility.
  • If you have mild gluten sensitivity without diagnosed celiac disease, small amounts of cross-contamination may be tolerated, especially if you do not experience severe or consistent symptoms.
  • If you are avoiding gluten by choice without a medical need, cross-contamination is less risky and minimal or trace amounts may not lead to health effects.

Speak to your doctor if you are unsure what level of gluten cross-contamination may be acceptable for your individual health status and sensitivities.

Steps to minimize risk

If you feel the risk of gluten cross-contamination from Tate’s cookie manufacturing is acceptable for your needs and choose to consume them, there are some best practices to follow to further reduce the chances of gluten exposure:

  • Check the labels and product information directly instead of relying on internet research to make sure wheat, barley, and rye are not currently listed as ingredients.
  • Look for any certifications like G.F.C.O (Gluten Free Certification Organization) or testing protocols listed to evaluate the brand’s commitment to gluten free safety.
  • Stick to flavors that traditionally do not contain wheat, such as chocolate chip.
  • Contact the manufacturer with any questions or concerns about their protocols and procedures for gluten cross-contamination.
  • Start by consuming a small amount and monitor symptoms carefully.

Best practices for gluten free diets

Regardless of the Tate’s cookie decision, those adhering to a strict gluten free diet should follow certain best practices for health and safety:

  • Become an avid label reader who understands common terms indicating gluten. Words like malt, wheat starch, cereal extract, modified food starch can all signal gluten’s presence.
  • Research any ambiguous ingredients thoroughly or opt not to consume them if definitive answers cannot be found.
  • Choose whole, naturally gluten free foods like produce, meats, dairy products, beans and legumes as the bulk of your diet.
  • Look for gluten free certifications from reputable organizations on any processed foods.
  • Inform wait staff in restaurants of your needs and confirm dishes do not contain gluten.
  • Request ingredient lists from manufacturers if concerned about cross-contamination in processing.
  • Cook at home as much as possible, avoiding cross-contamination in your own kitchen.

Gluten free dessert alternatives

For those who choose not to accept the cross-contamination risk of Tate’s cookies, the good news is that delicious gluten free dessert options abound! Try baking or buying:

  • Gluten free chocolate chip cookies – Many brands like Kinnikinnick offer certified options
  • Brownies and blondies made with alternate flours like almond or coconut
  • Cakes made with rice flour or other gluten free flours
  • Fruit desserts like crisps, crumbles, and cobblers
  • Chocolate pudding or pot de crème
  • Cookies made with beans like chickpeas or lentils
  • Macaroons, meringues, or marshmallows
  • Fruit-filled or cream-filled tarts and galettes with a gluten free crust
  • Cheesecake, flan, creme brûlée, or bread pudding made gluten free

With some adjustments to ingredients and care taken to avoid cross-contamination, you can still indulge your sweet tooth while maintaining a gluten free lifestyle.

The bottom line

While Tate’s chocolate chip cookies are not certified gluten free, the brand states that wheat, rye, and barley are not used as ingredients. Those with celiac disease or wheat allergies should avoid all products with potential cross-contamination risk. For others with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, small amounts of cross-contact from manufacturing may be low risk depending on individual tolerance. Carefully check labels, contact the company with any questions, start slowly, and take proper gluten free precautions to make the most informed decision for your personal health.

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