Until recently blue cheese has been classified as a food to avoid on gluten-free diets. Understandably so - traditionally the milk used to make blue cheese has been, and still is, inoculated with mold spores grown on bread or cultures that contain gluten.
However, analysis of blue cheese samples conducted by Dr. Terry Koerner's laboratory at Health Canada's Food Research Division found that neither cultures used with gluten-containing media or those used with wheat-based dextrose contained detectable levels of gluten when formed into blue cheese.
Other names for blue cheese include Roquefort (French,) Stilton (English,) gorgonzola (Italian), and blue cheese can be made from cow, sheep, and goat milk.
Alexandria Anca, Advisor to the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) Professional Advisory Board, has written a revealing article in Celiac News entitled "Blue Cheese in the Gluten-Free Diet: A Research Update" that should put to rest our perceptions that blue cheese is unsafe to eat on gluten-free diets.
Research Analysis and CCA Acceptability
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits use color change and antibodies to determine the identity of a substance. According to Anca's report, analysis of blue cheese samples conducted by Koerner's laboratory used three different commercial ELISA test kits to determine the gluten content of blue cheese fermented using products that did and did not contain a glutenous base.
The process involved testing five blue cheese and mold samples total, with three made with mold cultured on gluten-containing media and two samples of mold cultured on wheat-based dextrose.
Each sample was then tested three times using each of the ELISA tests. As a result, no detectable levels of gluten were found in any of the samples.
The Canadian Celiac Association has added blue cheese to its "Acceptability of Food and Food Ingredients for the Gluten-Free Diet" pocket dictionary, meaning that it should not bother even people with celiac disease, much less those with gluten intolerance or those on a gluten-free diet for health concerns.
Best Blue Cheeses Made With Gluten-Free Cultures
Even if you think you're safe to consume as much blue cheese as you desire without affecting your gluten-free diet, you can make sure your blue cheese has absolutely no traces of gluten by shopping for blue cheeses cultured in wheat-based dextrose.
Ultimately when it comes to matters of your health, you should carefully observe your body if you feel that blue cheese might be causing you pain or discomfort, especially if you might have a food allergy to gluten or dairy.
Rosenborg Blue Cheese is made using mold cultures that are gluten-free, making it safe for everyone with gluten aversions, including those with celiac disease. Additionally, BelGioso, Dutch Farms, Litehouse, Organic Valley, and Rogue Creamery all produce versions of blue cheese not fermented in gluten-based spores.
For a full list of other blue cheeses that are considered completely gluten-free, check out Sure Foods' "Living List of Gluten-Free Blue Cheese Products," and be sure to consult the label before buying if you're especially concerned about the less-than-trace amounts of gluten used in making traditional blue cheese.