Is Hillshire Farms ham gluten-free?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people adopting them for medical or lifestyle reasons. For those avoiding gluten, one of the trickiest foods to navigate can be deli meats like ham. With so many brands available, it can be hard to know which ones are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet.

One major brand of ham that gluten-free followers may come across is Hillshire Farm. Hillshire Farm offers several varieties of sliced ham, including their Black Forest Ham, Virginia Brand Ham, and Maple Honey Ham. But an important question for gluten-free consumers is: is Hillshire Farms ham gluten-free?

What is gluten?

Before diving into the gluten status of Hillshire Farms ham, it helps to understand what exactly gluten is. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and other closely related cereal grains.1 The two main proteins that make up gluten are gliadin and glutenin.

For most people, gluten poses no issues and can be consumed safely. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an abnormal immune response in the body and causes a variety of unpleasant symptoms.2 That’s why those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must adhere to a strict gluten-free diet, avoiding all foods and products containing gluten.

So in determining if a food like Hillshire Farms ham is gluten-free, we need to find out if it contains any wheat, rye, barley or related grains that contain the problematic gluten proteins.

Hillshire Farms ham ingredients

To determine if a product contains gluten, the first place to check is the ingredients list. Here are the ingredients for a few popular varieties of Hillshire Farms sliced hams:3

Hillshire Farms Black Forest Ham
Ingredients: Pork, water, corn syrup, less than 2% of sea salt, potassium chloride, carrageenan, natural flavorings.

Hillshire Farms Natural Choice 98% Fat Free Ham
Ingredients: Pork, water, contains 2% or less sea salt, potato starch, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate.

Hillshire Farm Oven Roasted Turkey Ham
Ingredients: Turkey thigh meat with a portion of ground turkey thigh meat added, water, contains 2% or less sea salt, brown sugar, sodium phosphates.

Reviewing the ingredients lists for these Hillshire Farm hams, you may notice that none of them contain wheat, rye, barley or obvious gluten sources. This is a good initial sign that these products are likely gluten-free. However, it’s important to dig deeper before drawing final conclusions.

Risk of cross-contamination

Even when a product’s ingredients appear gluten-free, cross-contamination during manufacturing is still a potential concern. Cross-contamination happens when gluten-containing foods come into contact with gluten-free foods, transferring over traces of gluten.

This risk is present in facilities that produce a variety of products, some with gluten and some without. Shared equipment and manufacturing lines increase the chances that gluten could get transferred to gluten-free items being produced.

So in assessing the gluten-free status of Hillshire Farms ham, we need to consider the risk of cross-contamination in their facilities. Fortunately, Hillshire Farms provides assurance about this on their website:

“All Hillshire Farm products are produced in facilities that also process products containing gluten. However, our Hillshire Farm meats, cold cuts and hot dogs are all gluten free. We have quality manufacturing procedures that all employees follow to avoid cross contamination of gluten-free products.”4

This statement confirms that while gluten products are present in Hillshire facilities, measures are in place to prevent cross-contamination into items like their hams.

Hillshire Farms gluten-free certification

For even greater assurance of an item’s gluten-free status, consumers should look for official certification. This means the product has been tested to verify gluten levels are below the threshold considered gluten-free.

Hillshire Farms ham products do carry certification from the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).5 The GFCO is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group, a trusted leader in the gluten-free community.

To receive GFCO certification, products must contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten. This stringent standard provides added confidence that Hillshire Farms ham is reliably gluten-free. The certification also requires facilities to follow practices that reduce cross-contamination risks.

Customer reviews

In addition to understanding how a product is made, it can be helpful to see the experiences of other gluten-free consumers who have tried it. Customer reviews provide real-world feedback on whether a product like Hillshire Farms ham is tolerated well or causes issues for those sensitive to gluten.

Looking across various reviews on sites like Amazon, the overall feedback on Hillshire Farm ham is very positive:6

– “I love Hillshire farms lunch meat. I am a celiac and have never had any reactions from eating their products.”

– “My son has celiac disease and he eats this without any issues. It’s nice to have a tasty option of lunch meat that is gluten free.”

– “I’ve been gluten-free for many years and I only buy Hillshire Farm deli meats – never had any problems with them.”

These sample reviews help corroborate that Hillshire Farm ham is a good gluten-free option that can be enjoyed safely by many with gluten restrictions. Of course, individuals with celiac disease should always check with their own physician before trying new products.

Are all Hillshire Farms products gluten-free?

While the focus of this article is on Hillshire Farms ham, it’s important to note that not all their products are gluten-free certified. For example, some of their sausage and breakfast items contain wheat, rye or barley and are not labeled gluten-free.7

So it’s important to check labels and ingredients carefully, even when purchasing other Hillshire Farm items. Only the deli meats and hot dogs that specifically say “gluten-free” have gone through the certification process.

Verdict: Hillshire Farms ham is gluten-free

In summary, after reviewing the ingredients, manufacturing practices, certifications and customer feedback, there is strong evidence to conclude that Hillshire Farms ham is gluten-free and safe for those avoiding gluten:

– Ham ingredients contain no wheat, barley, rye or gluten sources
– Facility practices prevent cross-contamination
– GFCO certification verifies gluten levels below 10 ppm
– Consumer reviews report no reactions to the ham

Hillshire Farm Black Forest Ham, Virginia Brand Ham, Natural Choice Ham and other deli meats labeled “gluten-free” can be considered reliable gluten-free options. Individuals with celiac disease or sensitivities should still confirm suitability with their healthcare provider. But overall, Hillshire Farms ham gets the gluten-free green light.

Choosing and preparing gluten-free ham

Once you’ve confirmed that a brand of ham like Hillshire Farms is gluten-free, there are a few additional tips for selecting and eating deli ham on a gluten-free diet:

– Read labels carefully each time you purchase, even for products you regularly buy, since formulations can change.

– Look for “gluten-free” labeling to ensure you’re getting a certified product.

– Look for sliced hams packaged in separate, single-serve pouches to reduce cross-contact risks from the slicing machine.

– Consider whole, boneless hams and slice them yourself at home to further reduce risks.

– As an added precaution, cut away the outer edges of sliced ham in case the slicer blade contacted gluten.

– Choose hams without added sauces or seasonings, as these could introduce gluten depending on ingredients.

– Use a separate set of dishes and utensils just for gluten-free foods when prepping and serving ham.

By selecting certified gluten-free products and following basic precautions, you can feel confident enjoying delicious Hillshire Farms ham and other deli meats on a gluten-free diet. Always speak to your healthcare team if you have questions or experience any symptoms after trying new foods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is all Hillshire Farm lunch meat gluten-free?

No, only certain Hillshire Farm deli meats are certified gluten-free, including their ham, turkey and roast beef slices. Other lunch meats like bologna may contain gluten. Always check for the “gluten-free” label.

Can celiacs eat Hillshire Farms Black Forest ham?

Yes, Hillshire Farms Black Forest Ham is considered safe for most people with celiac disease, since it is certified gluten-free to under 10 ppm. But individuals with celiac disease should always confirm suitability of any new product with their healthcare team.

Does Hillshire Farms ham contain wheat?

No, Hillshire Farms deli ham products labeled “gluten-free” do not contain wheat or other gluten sources based on their ingredients. The lack of wheat is further validated through the certification process.

Is Hillshire Farms ham processed in a gluten-free facility?

No, Hillshire Farms ham is produced in facilities that also process gluten-containing items. However, they follow gluten-free protocols to avoid cross-contamination into certified products. Third-party testing confirms gluten levels remain very low.

Is Maple Honey Ham by Hillshire Farm gluten-free?

Yes, Hillshire Farms Maple Honey Ham is certified gluten-free to less than 10 ppm. The sweet maple and honey flavors come from gluten-free ingredients. As with any product, be sure to check the label to confirm gluten-free status.

The bottom line

When you see the “gluten-free” logo on the packaging, Hillshire Farms deli hams like Black Forest Ham, Natural Choice Ham and Maple Honey Ham can be enjoyed as part of a gluten-free diet. Proper handling and preparation will further reduce any negligible risks. Huntington provides a quality, widely available gluten-free ham option.









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