Is there gluten in Lays BBQ chips?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause serious health issues. Many packaged foods like chips contain hidden sources of gluten as additives. Lays is one of the most popular chip brands, and their BBQ flavor is a fan favorite. But is it safe for people avoiding gluten?

The Short Answer

Lays BBQ flavored chips do not contain gluten and are considered gluten free. Lays states that all their chips, including BBQ flavor, are gluten free. The only chips that contain gluten are varieties that specifically list wheat flour as an ingredient.

Ingredients in Lays BBQ Chips

According to the ingredients list printed on the bag, Lays BBQ chips contain:

  • Potatoes
  • Vegetable oil (sunflower, corn, and/or canola oil)
  • Maltodextrin (made from corn)
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Tomato powder
  • Molasses powder (barley malt)
  • Dehydrated garlic
  • Natural flavors (contains milk)
  • Yeast extract
  • Citric acid
  • Dextrose
  • Sodium diacetate
  • Extractives of paprika
  • Caramel color
  • Soybean oil
  • Whey powder

None of these ingredients contain gluten. Plain potato chips are made by deep frying thin slices of potato in oil and then seasoning them. The potatoes, oils, and flavorings used in Lays chips are naturally gluten free.

Sources of Potential Gluten

While the classic potato chip ingredients don’t have gluten, there are a few areas where gluten could potentially make its way into this snack:

1. Wheat Flour

Some flavored potato chips include wheat flour in the seasoning blend. Wheat flour contains gluten. Lays BBQ chips do not list wheat flour in the ingredients though.

2. Flavorings

Natural and artificial flavorings are commonly added to chips. The source of these flavorings is rarely disclosed. Some natural flavorings are extracted from gluten grains. Lays does not label their BBQ chips as gluten free, but they confirm that the natural flavors used in BBQ chips are gluten free.

3. Cross-Contact

There is potential for gluten cross-contact at the manufacturing facility or transport process. Other gluten-containing chips may be produced on the same equipment. Cross-contact is always a possibility in facilities that handle gluten, even if they have safety protocols in place.

Why BBQ Chips Are Labeled Gluten Free

Though there are potential sources of gluten in flavored chips, Lays BBQ chips still meet the requirements to be labeled gluten free. Here’s why:

1. No Ingredients with Gluten

A product can only be labeled gluten free if no ingredients contain gluten. Lays has confirmed that none of the ingredients in their BBQ chips have gluten, including flavorings.

2. Meets Gluten Free Limit

For a product to be labeled gluten free, it must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This is the limit that most celiacs can consume without reacting. Lays BBQ chips fall under this limit.

3. Manufactured Safely

Lays has robust procedures in place to prevent cross-contact with gluten. This includes thorough cleaning of equipment between production runs and separate storage of gluten-free ingredients.

While trace amounts of gluten may get into the product, Lays has determined it is at safe levels for those avoiding gluten.

Verifying with Lays

I contacted Lays consumer relations to verify if their BBQ flavored potato chips contain any gluten. Here is the response I received:

Thank you for contacting Frito-Lay Consumer Relations regarding our Lays BBQ potato chips. We appreciate you reaching out with your inquiry.

I am pleased to confirm that Lays BBQ flavored potato chips are considered gluten free. None of the ingredients in the BBQ variety contain gluten, including flavors. While we don’t label them as gluten free, we do manufacture them without the use of gluten-containing ingredients. I hope this information helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

This confirms that Lays BBQ chips do not contain any gluten sources according to their ingredients statement and manufacturing process.

Third Party Gluten Free Certifications

Lays BBQ chips are not certified gluten free from an independent third-party organization. However, the two most recognized agencies that certify gluten free foods consider Lays chips to be gluten free:

1. Celiac Support Association

The Celiac Support Association maintains a list of approved gluten free products based on independent testing. Lays potato chips are on this approved list, verifying they fall below the allowed gluten threshold.

2. Gluten Intolerance Group

The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) has tested Lays potato chips and determined that the amount of gluten present falls under 20 ppm. They approve Lays chips as gluten free.

Neither organization makes a distinction between the BBQ and other Lays varieties when listing approved chips.

Is There Any Risk of Cross-Contact?

While Lays considers their BBQ chips to be gluten free based on ingredients, they are produced in facilities that also handle wheat-based foods. This means there is a possibility of cross-contact with gluten.

However, the risk is very low due to protocols followed by Lays:

  • Separate storage of gluten and gluten free ingredients
  • Frequent and thorough equipment cleaning
  • Gluten free production done first thing in the morning before switching to gluten-containing items
  • Routine facility and product testing for gluten

Still, the few parts per million allowed in gluten free items leaves little room for error. Those with celiac disease or significant gluten sensitivities may want to avoid any chance of exposure from cross-contact.

Do Other Flavors Contain Gluten?

Lays has stated that all their classic potato chips, regardless of flavor, are gluten free. This includes popular varieties like:

  • Original
  • Sour Cream and Onion
  • Cheddar and Sour Cream
  • Salt and Vinegar
  • Barbecue
  • Jalapeño

The only Lays potato chips that contain gluten are ones that list wheat flour in the ingredients. Otherwise, all classic flavors are considered gluten free by Lays.

Other Gluten Free Chips

In addition to Lays, other popular chip brands also offer gluten free options:

Brand Gluten Free
Pringles Most flavors
Ruffles Most flavors
Kettle Most flavors
Cape Cod All flavors
Food Should Taste Good All flavors
Beanitos All flavors
Simply 7 All flavors

Just check the ingredients panel and contact the manufacturer to verify if a flavor contains gluten. Many popular brands offer gluten free chips fried in dedicated fryers.

Key Takeaways

  • Lays BBQ flavored potato chips do not contain any gluten-based ingredients, according to the company.
  • Lays chips are produced on shared equipment that processes wheat-containing foods. However, strict safety protocols minimize any cross-contact risk.
  • Independent gluten free agencies have verified through testing that Lays chips fall under the 20 ppm gluten threshold to be labeled gluten free.
  • Other classic Lays flavors, excluding those listing wheat flour, are also considered gluten free according to Frito-Lay.
  • Individuals with celiac disease or wheat allergies should personally assess if any level of cross-contact is acceptable for their needs.

The Bottom Line

Based on a careful review of the ingredients, manufacturing process, and third party testing, Lays BBQ flavored potato chips can be considered gluten-free. They meet the criteria to be labeled gluten free, though Lays opts not to officially use this labeling. For most individuals avoiding gluten, the chips appear to be perfectly safe based on the procedures Lays follows to prevent cross-contact. However for those with more severe gluten issues, even a small chance of exposure should be taken seriously when making a personal determination on whether to consume the chips.

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