Can Coeliacs eat kettle chips?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. When someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, their immune system attacks and damages the small intestine. This can lead to a variety of digestive symptoms and health problems.

So for people with coeliac disease, following a strict gluten-free diet is very important. This means avoiding foods that contain gluten. However, there are many naturally gluten-free foods that coeliacs can enjoy, like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and gluten-free grains like rice and corn.

Are kettle chips gluten-free?

Most plain salted kettle chips are gluten-free. Kettle chips are made by slicing potatoes thinly and frying them in oil. Potatoes are naturally gluten-free. As long as kettle chips are not flavored or seasoned with ingredients containing gluten, they should be safe for coeliacs to eat.

Some kettle chips may be unsafe for coeliacs if they contain flavorings or seasonings derived from gluten sources. Wheat is a common ingredient added to chip flavors. Barley malt vinegar is also used frequently. Oats are another possible source of gluten contamination even though they are inherently gluten-free, because they are often processed alongside wheat.

So when choosing kettle chips, coeliacs need to read ingredient lists carefully and look for potential gluten sources. Chips with simple ingredients like potatoes, vegetable oil and salt are less likely to contain gluten than boldly flavored varieties.

What about cross-contamination risks?

Even if the ingredients look gluten-free, there is still a possibility of cross-contamination during manufacturing. This means gluten could accidentally get into the kettle chips from shared equipment or facilities.

Many chip brands now explicitly label products “gluten-free” if they have been tested for cross-contamination. This provides added assurance for sensitive coeliacs. Going for certified gluten-free brands minimizes any risk.

Tips for finding gluten-free kettle chips

  • Look for chips that are certified gluten-free or have a “gluten-free” label on the package.
  • Stick to plain flavors like salted or vinegar.
  • Avoid seasoned chips or chips with flavor names that suggest wheat, barley, malt or oats as ingredients.
  • Call the manufacturer if you have any doubt about ingredients or cross-contamination.
  • Purchase chips from brands known to be gluten-free.

Some gluten-free kettle chip brands

Here are a few widely available kettle chip brands that produce gluten-free varieties:

  • Cape Cod
  • Dirty Potato Chips
  • Food Should Taste Good
  • Jackson’s Honest
  • Kettle Brand
  • Route 11 Potato Chips
  • Ruffles
  • Snikiddy
  • Terra
  • Utz

Healthier gluten-free chip options

Kettle chips are tasty, but they are still a fried, salty snack food with little nutritional value. Coeliacs who eat a lot of chips may want to watch their fat and sodium intake. Here are some healthier gluten-free chip alternatives:

Baked potato or veggie chips

Baked potato chips are just thinly sliced potatoes cooked by baking instead of frying. This removes a lot of the fat calories. Beet, sweet potato, parsnip or other veggie chips are also lower in fat while providing nutrients.

Popped chips

Popped chips are made by applying heat and pressure to grains like corn or rice to pop them into a light, crispy puff. With no oil used in the cooking process, they are much lower in fat and calories than regular or kettle-cooked chips.

Bean chips

Chips made from black beans, lentils, chickpeas or other legumes give a serving of plant protein and fiber. They have a different texture than potato chips, but they offer more nutrition.

Apple chips

Dried, crispy apple chips have a sweet flavor that curbs the craving for crunchy salty snacks. They have fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants.

Guidelines for snacking on gluten-free chips

Here are some tips for coeliacs to healthfully enjoy gluten-free kettle chips and similar snacks:

  • Read labels carefully and look for certified gluten-free when possible.
  • Stick to serving sizes instead of overindulging.
  • Choose reduced fat/salt options or baked varieties.
  • Incorporate more nutritious snacks like fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Pair chips with gluten-free dips like hummus or guacamole.
  • Use chips to scoop up gluten-free chili, sandwiches, etc. rather than eating big handfuls on their own.

The bottom line

Plain salted kettle chips are usually gluten-free and safe for coeliacs in moderation. However, flavored chips may contain problematic ingredients, so diligent label reading is a must. Going for certified gluten-free brands provides added assurance. Health-conscious coeliacs can also try baked chips, veggie chips or popped chips for lower fat snack options.

Leave a Comment