Is there gluten free Vegemite?

Vegemite is an iconic Australian food spread made from yeast extract. It’s known for its very strong, salty, and savory taste. Vegemite is hugely popular in Australia and a staple in many households. However, some people need to follow a gluten-free diet for health reasons like celiac disease. This leads to the question – is there a gluten-free version of Vegemite available?

What is Vegemite?

Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food spread made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract, vegetables, wheat, and some spices. It was developed in 1922 by chemist Cyril P. Callister and Fred Walker of the Australian company Fred Walker & Co. Vegemite is rich in B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid. It’s very thick, sticky, and extremely salty/savory in taste.

Traditionally, Vegemite is spread thinly on toast, sandwiches, cracker biscuits, and English muffins. Vegemite can also be used in stews, casseroles, pasta, and as a filling for pastries like scrolls or pies. It is similar to British Marmite, New Zealand Marmite, and Swiss Cenovis yeast spreads.

Does Vegemite Contain Gluten?

Yes, traditional Vegemite contains gluten. This is because it is made from brewers’ yeast extract, which by nature contains gluten. Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley.

The wheat and barley used in the beer brewing process contribute to the gluten content in Vegemite. During brewing, the yeast ferments the grains’ starch into alcohol. Once the beer is ready, the leftover brewers’ yeast is then processed to create the yeast extract for Vegemite.

Why Vegemite is Not Suitable for a Gluten-Free Diet

Vegemite is not considered gluten-free because the yeast extract it is made from contains gluten proteins from the wheat and barley used in brewing. This makes standard Vegemite unsuitable for people who need to eat 100% gluten-free diets for health reasons.

Those with medical conditions like celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy need to avoid even small amounts of gluten in foods. For people with celiac disease, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine. Over time, this can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, malnutrition, and an increased risk of other health problems.

For people who cannot tolerate any gluten, eating regular Vegemite that contains gluten could cause issues. This is why it’s important for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to verify packaged food ingredients and look for certified gluten-free options.

Is There a Gluten-Free Version of Vegemite?

Yes, there are now some gluten-free versions of Vegemite available that use yeast extract sourced from gluten-free components:

  • Gluten Free Vegemite – Produced by Bega. Uses gluten-free yeast extract.
  • Vegemite Gluten Free – Produced by Dick Smith Foods. Uses yeast grown on sugarcane molasses.
  • Gluten Free Vegemite – The Australian Vegemite brand also produces a certified gluten-free version using gluten-free yeast extract. This allows Vegemite fans requiring a gluten-free diet to continue enjoying the iconic spread.

These specialty gluten-free Vegemite products give people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance an option to still enjoy the traditional taste of Vegemite. The gluten is removed or avoided during the manufacturing process.

Bega Gluten Free Vegemite

Bega Gluten Free Vegemite is produced by Bega Cheese, a leading Australian food company. It’s made using yeast grown on sugar beets that does not contain any gluten. According to Bega, their gluten-free Vegemite has the same thick texture, intense flavor, salty/savory taste, and nutritional profile as regular Vegemite.

Bega Gluten Free Vegemite is certified gluten-free by Coeliac Australia. It’s also free from lactose, nuts, egg, fish, sesame seeds, soybeans, lupin, and added MSG. Bega markets it as a tasty Vegemite option specifically tailored for gluten-free eaters.

Vegemite Gluten Free

Vegemite Gluten Free is produced by Dick Smith Foods, an Australian company focusing on gluten-free, additive-free groceries. Their gluten-free Vegemite variety uses yeast grown on sugarcane molasses, which does not contain gluten.

According to the company, aside from being 100% gluten-free, this Vegemite tastes identical to regular Vegemite. The product packaging states it is “brewer’s yeast free” and gluten tested to less than 5 parts per million. Dick Smith Foods Vegemite Gluten Free is also free from colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Australian Vegemite Brand Gluten-Free Vegemite

Realizing the demand for a gluten-free option, the Australian Vegemite brand now produces certified gluten-free Vegemite. This allows Vegemite fans on a gluten-free diet to continue enjoying the original taste and texture of this Australian icon.

According to the packaging, their gluten-free Vegemite contains no detectable gluten and is suitable for people with gluten intolerance. It’s made using gluten-free yeast extract sourced from sugar cane molasses. The gluten-free Vegemite is also free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

The Australian brand gluten-free Vegemite can be identified by its distinct purple packaging. The familiar red and yellow Vegemite logo is also displayed.

Are There Any Other Gluten-Free Vegemite Options?

Aside from the three main gluten-free brands highlighted, there are a few other specialty gluten-free Vegemite types available in some regions:

  • Coles Gluten Free Vegemite – Carried by the Coles supermarket chain in Australia.
  • Casa De Sante Gluten Free Vegemite – Produced by Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company.
  • Genesis Gluten Free Vegemite – Created by Genesis Foods using yeast extract from molasses.

So while regular Vegemite contains gluten, there are clearly several gluten-free Vegemite options available from major brands and specialty companies. The gluten-free alternatives give people requiring a gluten-free diet a way to still enjoy the intense, salty flavor of Vegemite.

What do Experts Say About Gluten-Free Vegemite?

Dietitians and celiac disease experts generally recommend gluten-free versions of Vegemite as a suitable substitute for those adhering to a strict gluten-free diet. However, as with any packaged food, they advise reading the ingredients label carefully and ensuring the product is certified gluten-free.

According to Jessica Biesiekierski, accredited practising dietitian and PhD candidate, the gluten-free Vegemites provide an alternative that allows people with celiac disease to enjoy something that’s quintessentially Australian. She said the taste and texture is indistinguishable from regular Vegemite.

Melissa Armstrong, Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and celiac disease specialist, concurs that gluten-free Vegemite varieties are safe options for gluten-free individuals wishing to have this spread in their diet. She suggests those with celiac disease choose products verified gluten-free to at least 5 parts per million.

The dietary experts agree it’s wonderful that major brands now produce gluten-free Vegemite versions specially manufactured for people who need to follow gluten-free diets for medical reasons.

Is Gluten-Free Vegemite Widely Available?

The main gluten-free varieties of Vegemite highlighted earlier are widely available for purchase at many major supermarkets and grocery stores in Australia. This includes large retailers like Coles, Woolworths, IGA, Foodworks, Aldi, and Harris Farm Markets.

Gluten-free Vegemite can usually be found in the health food aisle or free-from section. The products are also stocked by many independent health food shops and organic grocers. Online shopping provides another convenient way to purchase gluten-free Vegemite brands.

Bega Gluten Free Vegemite, Dick Smith Foods Gluten Free Vegemite, and Australian brand Gluten Free Vegemite seem to have the widest distribution in stores nationally. However, availability of niche gluten-free brands can vary more by region.

Gluten-free varieties are commonly priced similarly to regular Vegemite. Bega Gluten Free Vegemite and Australian Vegemite Gluten Free both sell for about $4.50 AUD per 220g jar. Dick Smith’s gluten-free version costs around $7 AUD for a 210g jar. So gluten-free options are accessibly priced too.

Is Gluten-Free Vegemite Used the Same Way as Regular Vegemite?

Yes, gluten-free Vegemite can be used in exactly the same way as traditional Vegemite in recipes, snacks, and meals. Due to the very similar taste, texture and nutritional profile, the gluten-free alternatives can seamlessly stand in for regular Vegemite.

Here are some of the most popular ways to enjoy gluten-free Vegemite:

  • Toast or sandwich spread – Spread very thinly on toast, sandwiches, or English muffins.
  • Crackers or biscuits – Have gluten-free Vegemite with rice crackers, corn thins or gluten-free biscuits.
  • Add to meals – Add a teaspoon to enhance the flavor of casseroles, stews, pasta sauces, gravy.
  • Scrolls or pastries – Use as a filling for homemade gluten-free scrolls or pies.
  • Add to mashed vegetables – Mix into potato, pumpkin or sweet potato mash.

Gluten-free Vegemite can be exchanged in any recipe that regular Vegemite is used. The only difference is that gluten-free provides the iconic Vegemite taste without the gluten for those with dietary restrictions.

Does Gluten-Free Vegemite Have the Same Nutritional Profile?

Yes, the main gluten-free Vegemite options provide a very similar nutritional profile to regular Vegemite per serving.

Here is a nutrition comparison of regular Vegemite versus Bega Gluten Free Vegemite per 5g serving:

Nutrient Regular Vegemite (5g) Bega Gluten Free Vegemite (5g)
Calories 17kJ (4cal) 17kJ (4cal)
Fat 0g 0g
Carbohydrates 1g 1g
Sugar 0.5g 0.4g
Sodium 114mg 120mg

As shown, the gluten-free Vegemite is nearly identical to regular Vegemite in calories, macronutrients, and sodium content per serving.

Both versions provide B vitamins like folate, thiamine, and vitamin B12. The gluten-free alternatives replace the gluten-containing yeast extract while preserving the nutritional value Vegemite is known for.

The Bottom Line

Traditional Vegemite contains gluten and is unsuitable for people who require a strict gluten-free diet for health conditions like celiac disease. However, there are now several gluten-free Vegemite products available that use yeast extract from gluten-free sources.

Gluten-free Vegemite alternatives from Bega, Dick Smith Foods, and the Australian Vegemite brand give people with gluten intolerance a way to enjoy the signature taste of this Australian spread. The gluten-free versions provide the same texture, application, nutrients, and indulgent salty flavor, just without the gluten.

Expert dietitians recommend gluten-free Vegemite as a suitable option for those on a medically necessary gluten-free diet. When shopping, just remember to double check the label for the certified gluten-free symbol.

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