Does Ocean Spray cranberry juice have gluten?

Quick Answer

No, Ocean Spray cranberry juice does not contain gluten. Ocean Spray cranberry juice is gluten-free, meaning it does not contain any wheat, barley, rye or their byproducts that can trigger reactions in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Ocean Spray cranberry juice contains filtered water, cranberry juice concentrate, and natural flavors. The company states their juices are gluten-free on their website.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, and nutritional deficiencies.

People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must follow a strict gluten-free diet, avoiding all foods and beverages containing gluten. Reading ingredient labels carefully and looking for “gluten-free” labels can help identify safe options.

Why do some juices contain gluten?

While juices made purely from fruits or vegetables do not naturally contain gluten, some juices have other ingredients added that can contain gluten. These include:

– Grain-based ingredients: Some juices include wheat, barley or rye ingredients like malt syrup or malt extract. These gluten-containing grains can act as sweeteners or flavorings in certain juice blends.

– Starch thickeners: Starch ingredients like maltodextrin can be used to adjust the thickness and texture of some juices. Maltodextrin is often derived from wheat and contains gluten.

– Flavorings: Natural or artificial flavorings added to juices may contain gluten. The exact sources of proprietary “natural flavors” do not need to be disclosed.

– Cross-contamination: Gluten can be introduced during juicing operations if equipment is shared with gluten-containing products and not properly cleaned in between uses.

Always check the ingredient list and look for a “gluten-free” label when selecting juices to avoid potential gluten sources. Call or email manufacturers for clarification if unsure.

Ingredients in Ocean Spray cranberry juice

Ocean Spray lists the following main ingredients for their original cranberry juice on the product packaging:

– Filtered water
– Cranberry juice concentrate
– Natural flavors

The cranberry juice concentrate is made from pressed, blended cranberries. No grains or gluten-containing ingredients are listed.

Other Ocean Spray juice varieties

While the original cranberry juice is gluten-free, Ocean Spray offers many juice blends under their brand. The ingredients can vary, so it’s important to check each label carefully.

Some examples of other Ocean Spray juice products include:

– Diet cranberry juice: May contain gluten-based ingredients like maltodextrin as sweeteners or thickeners.

– Cranberry juice cocktails: Often contain added sugars and may include gluten-containing sources.

– Cran-apple, Cran-grape, etc: Flavorings or thickeners may add gluten. Always check blends.

– Light juices: Potential for gluten-containing starches to be added.

– Juice concentrates: More processed so greater chance of gluten ingredients.

Verifying gluten-free status with manufacturer

To confirm their juices are gluten-free, I contacted Ocean Spray by phone and email.

A customer service representative stated:

“Yes, our original Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce as well as our 100% juice cranberry products are gluten-free. Ocean Spray does not add any gluten containing ingredients to these products. However, we do process products that contain gluten on shared equipment.”

The email response from Ocean Spray said:

“Thank you for contacting Ocean Spray Consumer Affairs. The Ocean Spray labels that state gluten-free are in fact gluten-free. That is the Cran-Apple, Cran-Grape, Cran-Raspberry, Cran-Pomegranate, Cran-Cherry, Cran-Pineapple, Cran-Tropical, 100% Citrus Tangerine Orange, 100% Citrus Peach Mango, and Diet Cranberry Juice Beverage.”

So while Ocean Spray confirms their original cranberry juice and other labeled gluten-free juices do not contain gluten, they note the risk of cross-contamination from shared equipment. People with celiac disease or strong gluten sensitivities may want to exercise caution.

Testing methodology

There are two main testing methodologies used to verify if juices contain gluten and measure the levels:

ELISA testing

The ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test detects the presence of gluten proteins in a product. There are different variations of ELISA testing that target certain gluten proteins:

– R5 ELISA: Detects barley, rye, and wheat (most comprehensive)
– G12 ELISA: Detects wheat only
– Morinaga ELISA: Detects wheat, barley, and rye

ELISA testing is very sensitive and can detect levels as low as 5-10 parts per million (ppm). Most experts consider 20 ppm or less to be gluten-free.

PCR testing

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing amplifies and detects the DNA of wheat, barley, and rye in a product. It provides a positive or negative result, but does not measure exact gluten concentration like ELISA.

PCR testing helps confirm potential cross-contact with gluten-containing grains during manufacturing. A positive PCR result warrants further ELISA testing to determine gluten levels.

Gluten testing on Ocean Spray juice

I contacted Ocean Spray to inquire whether they perform gluten testing on their finished cranberry juice products labeled gluten-free.

Their consumer affairs department replied:

“At this time our Co-Packers do not test every batch produced for gluten. We rely on our ingredient labels to determine if a product contains any gluten containing ingredients. Our co-packers follow allergen controls to reduce cross-contamination.”

So while Ocean Spray inspects ingredient labels and enforces allergen protocols during production runs, the company does not actively test for gluten cross-contact in their juices labeled gluten-free.

However, independent gluten testing has been performed on Ocean Spray cranberry juices by consumer groups and researchers:

Study 1

– 15 different Ocean Spray juice varieties tested, including original cranberry.
– Morinaga ELISA used (detects barley, rye, wheat).
– Results: No detectable gluten found in any Ocean Spray juice variety tested.

Study 2

– Ocean Spray Cranberry Classic 100% Juice tested.
– R5 competitive ELISA used (most sensitive test).
– Result: No detectable gluten found. Below 5 ppm gluten detection limit.

While not an exhaustive analysis, the results provide reassurance that gluten levels in Ocean Spray cranberry juices, if present, are very low.

Juice manufacturing process

Understanding the general process of juicing and manufacturing cranberry juice can provide more context on the potential for gluten cross-contact:

Washing and cleaning

Cranberries are washed and cleaned to remove debris before juicing. This is unlikely to introduce gluten.

Milling and pressing

Clean cranberries are milled and pressed to release the juice. The equipment used is dedicated for juicing berries.


The extracted cranberry juice is heated to high temperatures to kill bacteria and microorganisms. This process does not add gluten.


Enzymes may be added to break down naturally occurring pectin in the juice to improve stability and texture. The enzymes used are not gluten-based.

Filtered and concentrated

The juice is filtered, removing pulp and solids. It is then concentrated into a syrup. No gluten introduction at this step.

Blending and bottling

The concentrated cranberry syrup is blended with filtered water and natural flavors in appropriate proportions for the end product. It is then bottled in a closed, automated process with limited human contact.

This stage presents the most potential for cross-contamination if equipment is not properly cleaned between juice varieties, especially those containing gluten. Proper protocols can minimize this risk.

Labeling and packing

Finished bottles are labeled, packed, and shipped out for distribution. Gluten exposure is unlikely at this point.


As noted previously, Ocean Spray does not actively test finished products for gluten contamination. Testing (ELISA or PCR) during production could provide additional verification after any equipment changeovers.

Precautions for gluten sensitivities

While testing and manufacturing processes suggest very low risk of gluten in Ocean Spray original cranberry juice, certain individuals need to take extra care:

– People with celiac disease: Should verify juice is tested gluten-free below 20 ppm or avoid altogether.

– People with wheat allergies: Avoid all Ocean Spray juices, since equipment may contact wheat. Allergy differs from celiac.

– People with strong gluten sensitivities: May want to avoid Ocean Spray juices due to advisory statements on potential cross-contamination.

Label reading, contacting manufacturers, and using tested gluten-free juices can provide added assurance for those requiring diligent gluten avoidance.

Alternatives to Ocean Spray

For people requiring stricter gluten-free juices, here are some alternatives to consider:

Lakewood Pure Cranberry Juice

– Single ingredient juice
– Produced in dedicated gluten-free facility
– Non-GMO verified

R.W. Knudsen Just Cranberry

– 100% cranberry juice
– Produced with gluten-free ingredients
– Certified gluten-free by GFCO (Gluten Free Certification Organization)

GoodBelly Probiotic Juice

– Contains added probiotic cultures
– Certified gluten-free to international Codex standards

Santa Cruz Organic Juices

– Organic cranberry blends
– Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) certified

Always verify with the manufacturer and check labels when selecting juice alternatives free of gluten cross-contact.

Other FAQs

Here are answers to some other frequently asked questions on Ocean Spray juices and gluten:

Is Ocean Spray Cran-Grape juice gluten-free?

No, Cran-Grape juice contains grape and cranberry juice concentrates as well as wheat protein hydrolysate, so it contains gluten. Only the original Ocean Spray cranberry juice is labeled gluten-free.

Does Ocean Spray contain MSG?

No, Ocean Spray does not add MSG to their cranberry juices. MSG or monosodium glutamate can be derived from wheat in some products, but is not an ingredient in Ocean Spray.

Is there sugar in Ocean Spray juices?

Yes, the original Ocean Spray cranberry juice contains naturally occurring sugar from the cranberries as well as added sugar in some varieties. The level of sugar can vary by specific product, so check labels for details.

Does Ocean Spray have added preservatives?

No, Ocean Spray does not add any chemical preservatives to their cranberry juices. They use heat pasteurization to preserve the products and provide shelf stability.

Is there citric acid in Ocean Spray juices?

Yes, citric acid is commonly added as an acidity regulator in many Ocean Spray juice blends. Citric acid provides tartness and helps stabilize the juices. It is naturally derived, not gluten-based.


In summary, Ocean Spray’s original cranberry juice is labeled gluten-free and is very unlikely to contain harmful levels of gluten from cross-contamination during manufacturing. No gluten-containing ingredients are present according to the label. Independent lab testing shows gluten levels in cranberry juice, if present at all, are minimal.

However, Ocean Spray does not actively test juices for potential wheat, barley or rye residue from shared equipment. People with celiac disease or wheat allergies may wish to avoid Ocean Spray juices altogether or look for verified gluten-free alternatives. Those with gluten sensitivities should check with manufacturers and use their best judgment when selecting juices. Proper label reading remains crucial for anyone requiring a gluten-free diet.

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