Gluten Intolerance and Grain Fed Meat

Do you ever wonder about the connection between gluten intolerance and grain fed meat? You’re not alone. We received a reader question regarding how meat from livestock that are fed grain affects people who have a gluten allergy. We ran the question by Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Chair and Professor of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University.

Are people with Celiac disease (a gluten intolerance) at risk when they consume grain-fed meat?

Dr. MacDonald:

The simple answer is no. The animal converts food proteins into animal proteins by breaking down their structure during digestion (amino acids are separated and then repackaged during metabolism). Therefore, the meat will never contain any consumed proteins in their intact form. Meat, regardless of what the animal is fed, will not contain any gluten. The only way gluten could be in the meat is if the meat has been processed using fillers or if breading or some other type of preparation is done that adds a product containing gluten. But meat, by itself, is always gluten-free.

What is Celiac disease?

People with gluten intolerance are at risk of suffering damage to their intestines by eating foods containing wheat, rye, or barley. It is a genetic disorder that affects at least 1 in 133 Americans. Classic symptoms are diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition. It has been found mostly among people of European (especially Northern European) descent, but recent studies show it also affects Hispanic, Black and Asian populations.

Read more about Celiac disease and the foods people with the disease should avoid here.