Knorr powdered bouillon is commonly used throughout Mexico. It is an excellent choice for a quick and easy way to boost flavor in dishes from soup and stews, to sauces and marinades. Knorr is one of the most popular brands of powdered bouillon available in Mexico. But if you are following a gluten-free diet or have celiac disease, is Knorr bouillon safe for you to eat?
Because this ingredient is so prevalent in Mexican home cooking, I wanted to take a closer look at this question. This article will outline what I have found based on my own pantry research, as well as research that I have done through the Knorr and US Food and Drug Administration websites.
Ready to learn more?
My pantry research
Knorr has a variety of bouillon products in a range of flavors (chicken, beef, vegetable) and presentations, like cubed or powdered varieties. I happened to have 2 different Knorr bouillon products in my pantry as I was writing this article. I used them both to check for ingredients containing gluten.
Knorr powdered chicken broth
We use Knorr powdered chicken bouillon to flavor rice and soups when we cook at home. I happened to have a Knorr powdered chicken broth in my pantry, so I took a quick look at the ingredient label.
This particular product is made with 100% natural flavors, with ingredients like salt, cornstarch, chicken concentrate, chicken fat, onion powder, sugar, dehydrated parsley, carrot, garlic, and other herbs and spices.
While nothing immediately jumped out at me as containing gluten, I did notice yeast extract as one of the ingredients.
I investigated yeast extract further on the beyondceliac.org website. The website states that some types of yeast extract may contain gluten from barley. Manufacturers aren’t required to indicate the origin of the yeast extract that they use, at least in the US.
This makes it difficult to tell if the yeast extract on the Knorr powdered bouillon comes from a gluten-free source. And since the Knorr broth I have on hand doesn’t specifically state that it is gluten-free, I would avoid using this if you are gluten-intolerant, just to be safe.
Knorr beef rib broth cubes
I also had another Knorr product on hand: beef bouillon cubes (rib-flavored).
The ingredients list includes salt, vegetable oil, MSG, cornstarch, sugar, beef, caramel color, and herbs and spices. Again, no ingredients jumped out at me as containing gluten, but the label did clearly state that the product contained soy, nuts, and gluten.
So, at least determining whether there was gluten in these Knorr cubes was more straightforward than the powdered broth version.
But, I only have access to Knorr products that are available at my grocery store in Mexico. So, I wondered if maybe Knorr products in the US might have different formulations and include gluten-free varieties. To answer this question, I took a look at the Knorr US website to find out more.
What does Knorr say?
While my pantry research indicated that the products that I had on hand might not be gluten-free, I wanted to see what the company had to say. Did their website list any gluten-free or allergen information? Did they point to any specific gluten-free products that they make?
I took a look at Knorr’s FAQs page to get more product information.
Regarding allergen and cross-contamination, the company states that they don’t operate allergen-free facilities. They do have an “allergen management program” which helps prevent unintentional cross-contamination between product lines. While this is good, it doesn’t guarantee that foods that don’t include gluten ingredients haven’t come into contact with other foods that have.
I took a look at their gluten information section next. The company states that its labels clearly identify all ingredients. So, those products containing gluten like wheat, rye, or malt will be labeled accordingly and listed in plain language.
The bottom line is that Knorr suggests that consumers read the label each time they purchase a product since sometimes their product recipes can change.
It is for this reason that Knorr doesn’t publish a list of gluten-free flavors.
What are the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements on gluten-free labeling?
Although Knorr doesn’t publish a list of gluten-free products, some of its competitors have gluten-free labels on their bouillon. I wondered what the US Food and Drug Administration requirements were for manufacturers who use “gluten-free” labels on their food.
According to the FDA website, a “gluten-free” label can only be applied to foods that contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
Since Knorr doesn’t have a list of any gluten-free products, nor have I seen their products labeled gluten-free, I would assume that the company doesn’t test their products to this requirement. Or has tested their products and they don’t meet the requirement to include a “gluten-free” label per the FDA requirements.
Here are a couple other questions and answers about Knorr bouillon.
Does Knorr bouillon have MSG?
Some Knorr products do contain MSG (monosodium glutamate). I noticed on the powdered chicken broth that I have on hand, MSG is not listed. However, MSG is listed as an ingredient in the beef rib broth cubes. If you are sensitive to MSG, make sure that you review the ingredient labels on Knorr products before purchasing.
Does Knorr powdered bouillon expire?
There is date information on Knorr products that will give you an expiry or “best by” date so that you know how long the product will last.
The bottom line
Powdered bouillon cubes are a great option to have on hand to make delicious beef, vegetable, or chicken broth. These powdered broths are a versatile ingredient that can be used to help boost the flavor of your favorite dishes like sauces, rice, soup stocks, or marinades.
But for people with gluten sensitivities, it is important to read the product label before using it. Based on my research, I would be hesitant to use Knorr products in gluten-free applications. And since there are similar products with gluten-free bouillon options, there are alternatives to using Knorr brand bouillon if you are following a strict gluten-free diet.
To learn more about gluten-free Mexican food, check out my article, “Is Mexican food gluten-free?“
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