Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gatorade Remains Gluten-Free

For as long as I can remember, I've relied on Gatorade as my electrolyte replacement sports drink of choice. It's one of the few exceptions I make to my personal "no high fructose corn syrup" rule, and the nutrition section of the Gatorade website explains their seemingly sound rationale for using HFCS in their sports drink formulation.

Of course, one of the benefits of Gatorade for me is that the product is gluten-free. (I'm fiercely loyal to the original Holy Trinity of Gatorade flavors: lemon-lime, orange, and fruit punch.) On my most recent trip to the grocery store, I couldn't help but notice a total overhaul in the labeling, which has coincided with Gatorade's new image and switch to the "G" logo with the orange lightning bolt through it.

Concerned that this new label might also indicate a change in the formulation of the drink, I quickly checked the ingredients list. Sure enough, I found something new that wasn't there before: modified food starch. As you know, MFS can often be a hidden source of gluten in foods, so I immediately contacted Gatorade customer service.

I heard back earlier today from Gatorade Customer Relations. The modified food starch is used "to help thicken our products," I was told. (Why they need to thicken a sports drink, I don't know.) However, they also explained that their MFS is corn-based, and that their drinks remain gluten-free. So, without belaboring the Gatorade issue longer than I need to, the take home message is this: drink up, gluten-free athletes. Your sports drink is safe.

- Pete

18 comments:

GFE--gluten free easily said...

I can't do Gatorade. Even though it's gluten free, it gives me an instant headache. My husband reacts the same way. Maybe it's the dyes that are used.

It's my understanding that MFS is either made from corn or wheat, so if it had been made from wheat, it would have to be shown on the label. Still I can see why you called--reassurance is always good! This is an example of why I wish they had just made the FALCPA law to show all gluten to begin with. Then we wouldn't need part one and part two and all that's required to figure out if foods are gluten free to 20 ppm or less (if that is the level the FDA decides on). Anyway, let me get off my soap box ...

Keep enjoying your Holy Trinity! ;-)

Shirley

Concetta said...

Hi Pete

This is my test run to see if I set up the account etc and my first comment.
Found your article and the one on distilation very interesting

peterbronski said...

Hi Shirley. Is there an alternative sports drink that doesn't cause the headache? For Gatorade, the dyes are purely cosmetic - they help consumers "visually differentiate between the flavors."

Hi Connie. Test successful! Glad you enjoyed the posts!

Cheers, Pete

marylandceliac said...

Thanks for the info on Gatorade. I wondered too when I saw the new label. I drink it often.

amy said...

thank you so much! that is exactly what i thought when i just saw the new logo, read the label, found food starch (??) and my son waited eagerly while i googled it. It was great to find your post. I would like to find an alternative to gatorade that doesn't have the food dye, food starch, and high fructose...

peterbronski said...

Hi Amy... glad you found us! Have you tried the GU Electrolyte Brew? They make four flavors, all free of HFCS, modified starches, and colored with fruit and vegetable juice and other more natural options than artifical colorants.

Cheers, Pete

Jane said...

thanks so much for this post -- I noticed the same thing in the ingredients list and started googling right away. ^_^ thanks for doing the due diligence for the rest of us and sharing your results!

peterbronski said...

Hi Jane. No problem! Happy to provide useful information.

Cheers, Pete

Chris said...

I have used the powder Gatorade for several years without any problems, until the last can we bought. With this batch, I have a very sever reaction every time I drink it.Something has changed in it.

peterbronski said...

Hi Chris... What is the nature of your reaction to the recent batches of powdered Gatorade? According to the ingredients labeling, there still shouldn't be any gluten in it. Are they using a sweetener or color dye that you're sensitive to?

Cheers, Pete

Chris said...

Hello Pete,
Gluten gives me severe head aches & sinus infections. When I drink some from this last can, I get the head aches. The can I have lists modified food starch as an ingredient. The can before this one did not list the modified food starch.

peterbronski said...

Hi Chris,

In the U.S., if modified food starch is made from wheat (gluten), it must be declared as an allergen. Because the Gatorade label doesn't list that allergen after the ingredients, you can safely surmise that the MFS is made from a source other than wheat. I contacted Gatorade to confirm, and they told me their MFS is made from corn.

Cheers, Pete

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone has tried Overtime. It is a sugar-free electrolyte replacement drink sweetened with sucralose. It isn't thick like Gatorade which i have to wash down with water afterwards. It is also Gluten-free. Very low in sodium and as much potassium as a bananna! Love this drink. It also comes in Lemon-lime, Grape, Fruit Punch and Orange. So its safe for Diabetics, Hypertension and Gluten-free diets. www.drinkovertime.com

Anonymous said...

My self & a family member are having negative reactions as well. I use Innergize made by Reliv and get much better hydration with no negatives. It is powder but they also have a ready made natural energy shot that is also giving me no negative reactions. Maybe as well as gluten intollerance, we have other sensitivities.

Lawrence Wm. Smith II said...

I notice the OP was in 2009, last year 2011, the Lemon Lime and Rip Tide Rush were free of Gluten. Not so this year. Rip Tide is okay but within two hours of drinking the new Lemon Lime my arms were breaking out and itching. If they were using MF-Cornstarch they could list it as such. MFS that they are using is not gluten free. And last year I did contact them, and they gave the same answer, they use MFS, but it is corn based. Not so much truth in packaging.

Anonymous said...

My 12-yr-old son and I have Celiac, and we cannot have Gatorade. It causes a reaction within 12 hours. He's a gymnast and spends quite a bit of time at the gym--very frustrating. We stick to lots of water.

Alannah Wallace said...

Its necessary to double check even if it doesnt list wheat as an allergen ive noticed many products dont list wheat as an allergen even though they say malt and barely in the ingredients

peterbronski said...

Alannah,

A product may contain malt or barley, but won't list wheat as an allergen, because they're different grains. Wheat is one of the Top 8, and hence must be declared, while barley is not. That's why a product may be labeled wheat-free, but isn't necessarily gluten-free. The take home lesson is that, yes, it's always important to read labels.

Cheers,
Pete