Yes, Honey Is Gluten Free. But Here’s The Problem


8 minutes

Essential Takeaways

Honey (when in its purest, all-natural form) is gluten-free and safe to consume for those with severe intolerances and coeliac disease.

Unfortunately, honey can become contaminated by gluten for a few different reasons. These are avoidable, and you can make sure you get genuinely gluten-free honey with just a short checklist.

This guide explains what to look for and why UMF™-graded manuka honey is the safest for those wanting to avoid gluten.

Pure, raw honey is gluten-free.

But pure, raw honey isn’t always what comes in the jar.

The global honey market is worth about $8 billion¹, and its demand massively outweighs the supply.

So what’s the deal? Why is honey such a hot commodity?

Its incredible all-natural health benefits have been passed down for millennia. And thanks to research in the last few decades, we now understand why.

And then of course, there’s the delicious flavour and versatility in cooking.

So it’s only fair that everyone should get to enjoy honey. Even those with a severe gluten intolerance.

Fortunately, it’s easy to spot pure, raw and gluten-free honey if you know how.

That’s what this guide is all about.

In this guide to gluten-free honey:

Why Honey Is Gluten-Free

If you’re wondering, ‘does honey contain gluten?’, the answer is no.

The natural composition of honey makes it free from gluten.

“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye.

Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.”

Foods most associated with containing gluten include bread, pasta, cereal, oats, and baked goods.

It can also be found in more unusual places like stock cubes that contain wheat, soy sauce, and even some chocolate (thanks to its manufacturing)².

But honey isn’t one of those - at least not pure, raw honey.

Although it varies by location and honey type, the chemical composition of honey is roughly³:

  • 80-85% carbohydrates

  • 15-17% water

  • 0.3% proteins

  • 0.2% ashes, amino acids and vitamins

You won’t find any gluten-containing wheat proteins in honey.

That is, as long as it hasn’t been added later - but we’ll get to that.

Can coeliacs eat honey?

Yes, as long as the honey is not contaminated by gluten after harvesting, it is safe for coeliacs to eat⁴.

Coeliacs can check whether a specific honey item contains gluten by reading labels, doing their research on the manufacturer, and understanding how honey is certified.

The safest honey for coeliacs is UMF™-graded manuka honey, like ours. That’s because it’s the most regulated in the world, and has been certified pure and raw.

Is manuka honey good for coeliac disease?

Yes, evidence suggests that manuka honey eases the symptoms typically experienced by coeliacs. These include bloating, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain after eating gluten⁵. It can cause real damage to the gut and limit healthy nutrient uptake.

Manuka honey has been shown to help with bloating and stomach issues, ease diarrhoea⁶, and promote good gut health⁷. So it may be a fantastic natural remedy for coeliacs looking for a general wellness boost as well as those wanting to relieve the symptoms of eating gluten.

Why Does Some Honey Contain Gluten?

There are a few potential touchpoints from honey production to consumption where gluten might nudge its way in.

Here are a few examples so you know where to look and what to avoid.

Hives placed close to agricultural land

You probably know that bees make honey by collecting nectar. You may not know that bees can travel miles during this process, and unless beekeepers know exactly what species of plants are within this extensive boundary, they have to label the honey as “multifloral”.

If there are agricultural fields within this boundary that produce wheat or grain products, it’s quite possible that the honey could become contaminated. The extent of this is hard to pin down, and it might not be dangerous - but it’s important to be aware.

How to avoid this risk: Purchase certified monofloral honey (like UMF™-graded manuka honey) so you can be sure of where it came from.

During the manufacturing process

Some types of honey are filtered and ultrafiltered to make them clearer and more syrup-like in consistency. Some are diluted to increase supply.

These steps make honey more susceptible to contamination. It might be through the equipment used, or they might be in factories that process gluten-containing foods.

It might even be the additives themselves. For example, barley malt syrup is a relatively new honey adulterant that has started cropping up in tests and typically contains gluten⁸.

How to avoid this risk: Choose pure, raw honey only. There are tests you can do to check if your honey is pure at home. But check labels for certifications like UMF™, ingredients lists, supplier locations, and a thicker, more opaque consistency in the honey itself.

Before consuming the honey

Even if you choose exactly the right kind of honey that is highly regulated and certified gluten-free (like our manuka honey), it’s possible to contaminate it at home.

If you have coeliac disease then no doubt you’re well versed in how to keep that pesky gluten away from your kitchen. But if not, basic hygiene will keep it at bay.

How to avoid this risk: Use clean utensils to serve your honey and store it in an airtight container in your pantry. 

Why It Matters That Honey Is Gluten-Free

We still don’t know exactly why some people are intolerant to gluten. It can be genetic and something you’re born with, or something you develop later in life⁹.

Some people might just feel a little uncomfortable when they eat gluten. They might get bloating, fatigue, or a headache⁹.

But others can experience serious life-threatening complications from eating it.

So, what’s up with gluten? What’s the deal?

Protease is the type of enzyme that helps us to break down proteins - but it can’t quite seem to handle gluten. Instead, gluten is sent to our small intestine undigested¹⁰. For most of us, this isn’t a problem. But for some, this triggers an autoimmune response.

Undigested gluten and carbohydrates ferment in the gut, and if the lining is damaged, they can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation¹⁰.

If you don’t have a gluten intolerance, then it is a healthy and safe ingredient to eat. It may not matter to you if honey has become contaminated with gluten.

But for coeliacs and those with this sensitivity, it’s important that gluten is excluded from their diet.

So here’s a checklist to be 100% sure that your honey is gluten-free.

Your Checklist for Gluten-Free Honey

Here’s your easy checklist to bookmark and open up when you’re standing at the grocery store shelf.


  1. Opt for the most regulated honey

Manuka honey is unique for two key reasons: it offers the most potent health benefits with the highest levels of antibacterial activity, and it is the most regulated honey in the world as a result.

The UMF™ grading system was developed specifically to certify authentic, pure, and raw manuka honey from New Zealand. If a jar of manuka honey has this coveted grade, then you can rest assured that it is monofloral and unprocessed.

Our UMF™ graded manuka honey is all of this and more - it’s 100% gluten-free.

It is perhaps one of the only types of honey in the world that you can be completely confident in its contents and claims.

  1. Check the ingredients list

It seems obvious but check the list. Are there any additives that you don’t recognise or aren’t completely sure what they are?

It is worth looking them up. Many ingredients can legally be called many different things which makes it confusing for the consumer.

  1. Check the country of origin and supplier

If this is difficult to figure out, then the manufacturer may not be one of the most trustworthy or transparent.

You should be able to trace the origins of the honey and check where it has been harvested and packaged. These things might require a little more digging to find out and you can always contact brands to ask if and how they ensure their honey is gluten-free.

Our jars display a batch number that you can look up online to trace the origin of your manuka honey.

  1. Check the consistency of the honey

It’s relatively easy to spot ultrafiltered and processed honey. If it looks more like syrup, then that’s probably what it is.

Pure, raw honey is generally thicker and not very runny. You can do some at-home tests if you’re unsure and already have a jar in the pantry.

  1. Look at the clarity of the honey

How clear is the honey? Honey can be filtered and filtered again to remove any of the impurities, some of which can be quite beneficial.

Clearing the honey makes it look more commercial, but honey in its all-natural state is quite opaque. If you can see through it, it may have been overly processed.


Shop Our Premium Gluten-Free Manuka Honey

The safest way to ensure your honey is 100% gluten-free and that it offers the very best health benefits is to opt for our fully-traceable UMF™ manuka honey.

But don’t just take our word for it.

“I am extremely pleased with the benefits of Manuka Honey. Also New Zealand Honey Co. is an excellent, efficient company to work with. I use the Manuka Honey for my digestive issues and also use the honey as a mask for my Rosacea. Much improvement.”

“I love your honey! It helps with my digestion, and gastritis. It helps with wound healing! So many things!!”

“High quality honey and very good for the stomach.”

Shop our raw manuka honey range.

Unsure which grade is right for you?

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¹ Honey market worldwide and in the US, Statista.

² 20 foods you think are gluten-free but aren’t, BBC Good Food.

³ Honey: single food stuff comprises many drugs, National Library of Medicine.

Is honey gluten free? Celiac.

Coeliac disease, NHS.

Honey: its antibacterial action, National Library of Medicine.

The potential of honey as a prebiotic food, National Library of Medicine.

Detection of barley malt syrup as an adulterant in honey, Science Direct.

Gluten intolerance, Cleveland Clinic.

¹⁰ What is gluten and what does it do? Hopkins Medicine.

Your wellness journey starts with a spoonful a day.


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