Is all Sprite gluten-free?

Sprite is one of the most popular lemon-lime flavored sodas in the world. It is produced by The Coca-Cola Company and sold in more than 190 countries. Sprite is marketed as a low-calorie drink that provides refreshment on a hot day. But is Sprite always gluten-free, or does it contain gluten in some countries? This article will examine if all Sprite sold worldwide is gluten-free.

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 abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue, headache, and skin rashes. The only treatment is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.

Even tiny amounts of gluten from cross-contamination can be problematic. Many people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can only tolerate about 10-20 parts per million of gluten. For reference, one crumb of bread can contain enough gluten to cause issues for someone who is highly sensitive.

Why do people need to know if Sprite contains gluten?

There are several reasons why people want to know if Sprite contains gluten:

  • People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity need to avoid all sources of gluten in food and drinks to prevent illness and complications.
  • People with wheat allergies need to avoid drinks processed on equipment shared with wheat-based ingredients.
  • People on low-FODMAP, ketogenic, and certain other diets require gluten-free options.
  • Consumers want to see transparent labeling so they can make informed choices.

For people who absolutely cannot have gluten, it’s crucial to have definitive information about the gluten content of mainstream consumer products like Sprite. Minor exposure can make them sick.

How is regular Sprite made?

The original lemon-lime Sprite contains carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate, and sodium benzoate as a preservative. In some countries, Sprite may contain caffeine or artificial sweeteners like aspartame instead of high fructose corn syrup. The exact formula can vary slightly between countries.

Crucially, none of the standard ingredients in regular Sprite contain gluten. High fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium citrate, and preservatives are not sources of gluten. The “natural flavors” are likely citrus-derived compounds, not gluten ingredients.

Does the Sprite manufacturing process introduce any risk of gluten cross-contact?

Sprite is produced in manufacturing facilities that also make other Coca-Cola products, some of which may contain gluten. For example, Barq’s Root Beer contains wheat bran extract. Fanta Orange contains wheat protein hydrolysate.

So there is a possibility of gluten cross-contact through shared equipment, supply lines, and bottling facilities. Most large soda companies do not claim to produce gluten-free beverages because they cannot guarantee no cross-contact.

However, any residual gluten from shared equipment is likely to be minimal in the final packaged Sprite. The sweeteners, acids, flavors, and carbonated water used to make Sprite do not contain gluten. Testing would be required to know if trace amounts get into Sprite during manufacturing.

What type of gluten testing does The Coca-Cola Company conduct on Sprite?

I could not find any detailed information from The Coca-Cola Company about specific gluten testing procedures for Sprite. Their allergen information simply states:

We do not test finished beverage products for gluten content as there are no gluten containing ingredients in the formulation of this product. However, this product is produced in facilities that manufacture products that contain wheat as an ingredient. There is a possibility that this product may come in contact with gluten during the manufacturing process. We make no gluten free claims on this product.

So while they apparently do not test Sprite for gluten, they also do not confirm the presence of gluten from cross-contact. It remains an uncertainty without independent lab results.

What about gluten-free labeled Sprite?

Some Sprite packaging clearly states “Gluten-Free” on the label. For example, Sprite Zero Sugar in the United States contains this gluten-free claim. The ingredient list remains the same as regular Sprite, excluding high fructose corn syrup.

For a company to label a food or drink gluten-free, it must contain less than 20 parts per million gluten. So gluten-free Sprite has been tested to verify it falls under this threshold. Testing is likely done periodically to ensure manufacturing processes prevent cross-contact with gluten.

What do independent gluten lab tests show for Sprite?

There are a few third-party gluten lab results available online for Sprite products:

  • tested Sprite Zero in the United States in 2013. The test showed less than 5 parts per million of gluten.
  • The Gluten Free Watchdog tested Sprite Zero Sugar in the United States in 2018. Tests showed less than 3 parts per million of gluten.
  • The Coca-Cola Company in Ireland tested Original Sprite in 2010. Results showed 10 parts per million of gluten.

Although limited, these independent lab results indicate very low levels of gluten far below the 20 parts per million cutoff for foods labeled gluten-free. But periodic testing may be prudent to check for changes.

Summary of Lab Results for Gluten in Sprite

Year Sprite Variety Tested Country Gluten Level Detected
2010 Original Sprite Ireland 10 parts per million
2013 Sprite Zero United States Less than 5 parts per million
2018 Sprite Zero Sugar United States Less than 3 parts per million

Is Sprite gluten-free in other countries?

The formulation and manufacturing process for Sprite varies globally based on regional supply chains and regulations. So the gluten-free status of Sprite could differ between countries.

I could not find official gluten information directly from The Coca-Cola Company for Sprite sold outside the United States. However, there are some clues that provide insights:

  • United Kingdom – Sprite ingredients contain no gluten sources. The facility allergen statement mentions wheat/gluten is handled on site.
  • Canada – Ingredient lists show no gluten. But the company cannot guarantee no cross-contact.
  • Australia – Sprite is labeled “low gluten” but not gluten-free. No levels are provided.
  • South Africa – Sprite tested at less than 10 parts per million gluten in 2012.

While not definitive, these data points suggest Sprite in various international markets likely contains very low levels of gluten from cross-contact if any. But independent lab testing would be needed for confirmation.

What about potential gluten cross-contact after manufacturing?

There is also the possibility of gluten cross-contact after Sprite leaves the manufacturing facilities:

  • Transportation – Trucks that transport wheat-based beers or foods could leave traces.
  • Storage – Warehouses may store Sprite near gluten products.
  • Retail – Stores could display Sprite close to glutenous items.

However, this type of incidental environmental contact is less likely to transfer significant gluten into bottled and canned beverages compared to shared manufacturing lines. But it remains an additional consideration.

Should people with celiac disease drink Sprite?

The available data suggests Sprite is likely low in gluten, but the risk cannot be entirely ruled out. People with celiac disease and high gluten sensitivity need to make their own judgments given this information.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • How sensitive are you to small amounts of gluten? Can you tolerate 20 parts per million?
  • Do you experience GI symptoms when drinking regular Sprite? People vary in reactivity.
  • Is gluten-free labeled Sprite available in your area? This has stricter standards.
  • Are you willing to take a calculated low risk that suits your level of sensitivity?

Those who wish to err on the side of caution can choose other beverages made in dedicated gluten-free facilities. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about trace gluten intake from drinks.


Although the data is limited, most indications are that Sprite contains very low levels of gluten, if any. Independent lab tests have found gluten levels in Sprite far below the 20 parts per million threshold to be labeled gluten-free in the United States. However, the possibility of trace amounts of gluten through cross-contact in manufacturing or transport cannot be definitively ruled out.

The Coca-Cola Company does not claim Sprite is gluten-free in most markets given the risk of cross-contact in shared facilities. But gluten-free labeled Sprite is held to stricter standards with additional testing. Overall, Sprite likely contains negligible amounts of gluten, but individuals have to weigh their personal sensitivity and risk tolerance in making informed consumption choices.

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