Are Johnsonville Smoked Brats Gluten-Free?

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Bratwurst

If you're looking for gluten-free food ideas and love the taste of Johnsonville smoked brats, you're in luck. Johnsonville makes a variety of smoked brat products, and many are gluten-free. However, if you have Celiac disease or other types of extreme gluten sensitivity, beware of potential cross contamination.

Are Smoked Brats Gluten-Free?

Not all brats are gluten-free, but Johnsonville smoked brats are labeled gluten-free by the manufacturer so you're welcome to include these food items in gluten-free meal plans as long as you're not on a strict gluten-free diet. That's because potential cross contamination is a concern, and Johnsonville smoked brats contain monosodium glutamate (MSG). Examples of Johnsonville smoked brats that are labeled gluten-free include Johnsonville smoked beef brats and Johnsonville smoked brats links. However, Johnsonville brats made with beer are not gluten-free.

What does this mean? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for gluten-free labeling say manufacturers who use the claim "gluten-free" are accountable for using the claim truthfully (and not misleading consumers), and must comply with all FDA gluten-free labeling requirements. The FDA criteria for a gluten-free food is the item must have a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million (ppm), which is the lowest level that can reliably be detected in foods.

Other Gluten-Free Johnsonville Brats

In addition to Johnsonville smoked brats, several other brats are labeled as gluten-free. These include:

  • Johnsonville Original Brats
  • Johnsonville Cheddar Brats
  • Fresh Polish Kielbasa
  • Chipotle and Monterey Jack Brats
  • Jalapeno and Cheddar Brats
  • Stadium Brats
  • Buffalo Bleu Brats
  • Irish O'Garlic Links
  • Hot n' Spicy Brats
  • Grilling Chorizo
  • Firecracker Brats
  • Hatch Green Chili Brats
  • Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Sausages

Smoked Brat Ingredient List

Ingredients in Johnsonville smoke brats vary based on the type you choose. For example, ingredients that make the list for Johnsonville's smoked pork brats include pork, water, salt, corn syrup, sugar, preservatives, flavor enhancers, and natural and artificial flavors. Smoked beef Johnsonville brats contain the same ingredients as port brats, but consist of beef instead of pork.

Ingredients to Watch Out For

When choosing smoked brats, it's important to watch out for certain ingredients if you have to follow a strict gluten-free diet. Beer is one of them. So is Worcestershire sauce, modified food starch, monosodium glutamate (MSG), malt products, soy sauce, and barley malt unless these ingredients (or food products containing them) specifically state the term "gluten-free" on the label, says the Gluten Free Society. Some Johnsonville brat products claim "no MSG added," but Johnsonville smoked brats do not (smoked brats do contain MSG).

What About Cross Contamination?

Cross contamination is always a concern when trying to eat gluten-free, and brats are no exception. Because Johnsonville makes other kinds of brats (in addition to gluten-free smoke brats), facility cross contamination during manufacturing is a potential concern. Johnsonville is responsible for making sure this doesn't happen, as they must abide by FDA regulations when using the "gluten-free" claim. But if you're concerned about gluten-free brats being made in the same facility as gluten-containing brats, call the manufacturer to find out for sure.

If you're ordering Johnsonville smoked brats from a restaurant or ball game-or eating brats at a cookout with friends-the brats likely won't be gluten-free. That's because traditional brat buns are a source of gluten, so even if you order brats without buns cross contamination is a big concern. If you're making Johnsonville brats at home and choose gluten-free buns, you should be okay (as long as you take normal precautionary measures to avoid cross contamination).

Should I Eat Johnsonville Brats?

It can be difficult to avoid gluten entirely when on a strict gluten-free meal plan. The Gluten Free Society says up to 41 of products labeled "gluten-free" may contain gluten from cross contamination during processing. So if you have Celiac disease and must avoid gluten entirely, it's probably best to skip processed foods (like brats and hot dogs) entirely and opt for whole, fresh foods instead.

Are Johnsonville Smoked Brats Gluten-Free?