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Are Blue Cheeses Safe for a Gluten-Free Diet?

By: Gillian Olins, Ph.D. on August 5, 2011

Recently, I posted a recipe for Blue Cheese, Walnut & Spinach Salad on this website. The recipe specifically called for Gorgonzola blue cheese with a note next to it to double check that it is gluten-free. We received a comment that those who are gluten-sensitive are often advised to avoid blue cheeses because they may contain gluten. I think this is a topic worth clarifying.

Celiac Biopsy Guidelines Often Not FollowedTraditionally, blue cheeses, e.g. Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton, were made by leaving bread in damp caves for 6-8 weeks until it went moldy. The mold was then dried to a powder that was used to inoculate a cow milk or goat milk cheese to produce the blue or green veins and distinctive flavor.

For the last 40 years, blue cheeses are now developed using commercially manufactured, mold-producing spores that can be produced in a laboratory to allow for greater consistency. It is extremely unlikely that blue cheeses today contain gluten. In fact, Alexandra Anca, principal researcher for the Canadian Celiac Association’s Pocket Dictionary of Ingredients, submitted several representative blue cheese samples to a reputable testing facility to see if they contained gluten. None of the samples had detectable levels of gluten, i.e. 3 parts per million or less (Ref. 1). It was concluded that the consumption of blue cheese is safe as part of a gluten-free diet.

Ref. 1: A. Anca (2009) Celiac News 23: 1-5. Blue Cheese in the Gluten-Free Diet - A Research Update.

However, always read product labels and, if in any doubt, contact the manufacturer. And, if you still have doubts, don’t eat it!

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