If you're wondering if all beef jerky is gluten free you won't find a simple answer. Since gluten comes entirely from wheat it makes sense that it would not be found in beef. But even if you don't find gluten in fresh cuts of meat, it can sometimes appear in products taken for granted as being purely meat, like beef jerky.
While beef jerky really is only made up of dried and sometimes smoked strips of marinated meat, some of the ingredients that go into the marinade may contain gluten.
Unfortunately, you can't always rely on product labeling to identify the presence of gluten in beef jerky.
Beef jerky is regulated by the USDA so it has to comply with FDA Gluten Free Labeling Standards if it's labeled as "gluten free." While there are organizations that provide a third-party certification, these are uncommon. However, if a jerky product has not been identified as gluten free it still could still be.
When looking for a gluten-free beef jerky:
There are two components containing gluten commonly used in beef jerky marinades that Karl Family Farms does not use. They are:
Soy is a bean, so it's gluten free by itself. However, regular soy sauce is made by mixing soy with crushed wheat and letting it ferment in salty water, so common soy sauce does contain some gluten. Since regular soy sauce is one of the four main parts of many teriyaki sauces, it's also a source of gluten.
Instead, we use Tamari, which is a similar to soy sauce, but is a wheat-free alternative.
Since members of the Karl family have their own issues with gluten, we are committed to making gluten-free products, including beef jerky. Our process has never included gluten in our marinades, seasonings, or anything else.
The result is gluten-free beef jerky that's made simply using grass-fed beef and fresh ingredients in a simple process to bring out a rich, natural flavor.
Not all beef jerky is gluten free. Differences in product labeling can create confusion, but if the presence of gluten is a concern, select only products that are clearly labeled as gluten free.
If you're just looking to cut down on gluten, some great gluten-free brands simply don't have a label on them and you could be missing out. It's best to find a jerky brand you can trust and learn how to eye over the ingredients so you can decide for yourself.
Here's a list of our products made without gluten: