Celiac disease: Five tips for gluten-free online grocery shopping

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Online grocery shopping can be convenient and offer a broader selection of gluten-free options than shopping in person. Use these tips to help you and your family navigate online grocery shopping for a gluten-free diet.

Key points

  • Online grocery shopping or bulk buying may offer your family convenience and more selection. It can also help your family manage your grocery budget.
  • It is important to make sure the grocery items you purchase online are gluten-free.
  • Shop safely online by purchasing naturally gluten-free foods, reading labels, verifying that purchased items are gluten-free and clearly communicating your need for gluten-free groceries.

Many families shop for groceries or purchase gluten-fee bulk items online. While online grocery shopping may be convenient for busy families, offer more selection and help manage a grocery budget, it may require extra steps to ensure the grocery items you purchase are gluten-free. Here are some considerations for grocery shopping or bulk buying online.

1. Shop online like you would grocery shop in person

Focus on selecting naturally gluten-free grocery items that can support a healthy gluten-free diet, such as:

  • vegetables and fruit
  • plant-based proteins
  • dairy and dairy products
  • plain nuts and seed
  • plain poultry, fish and meats

Just like when you grocery shop in person, it is important to read labels or product descriptions, examine allergen statements and look out for certified gluten-free claims when purchasing packaged grocery items online.

You may not be able to physically touch and examine a product online, but images and product descriptions can provide important information.

Look out for the words "gluten-free" in the product name or description. Verify that the product is gluten-free by reading the ingredient lists and allergen statements. This information may be provided as an image or in the product description. Also look for gluten-free and certified gluten-free claims or symbols on the product page or label.

If you are not sure if a product is gluten-free but are still interested in purchasing the product, you can contact the manufacturer for verification. You may have to search for the manufacturer's contact information online (e.g., look for a "contact us" page for email or telephone number on the manufacturer's website) as this information may not be provided through the online grocery store. When contacting the manufacturer, provide as much detail as possible about the product, such as the product's name, products SKU number or UPC (universal product code), if this information is provided on the online grocery store website.

If you are in doubt about the product, it is best to leave it out of your online grocery cart! Find a safe alternative that you can confidently verify is gluten-free.

2. Be aware that some online information may not always be up to date

Ingredients lists in images or product descriptions used by online grocery stores may not the same as those on the product you will receive. Food manufacturing companies can change their product's ingredients or production practices without warning, leaving grocery stores with outdated ingredient lists.

When you receive your groceries, it is important to check the label and ingredient list of every gluten-free product to verify that it is safe.

3. Shop trusted gluten-free brands

Use the search function to look for the trusted gluten-free brands that your family enjoys. If an online grocery store does not carry your preferred gluten-free brands, try shopping directly from the brands' websites. Some gluten-free brands will offer bulk buying deals or free shipping if you spend a specified amount of money on their products.

4. Review your online grocery store's return policy

Nothing is worse than receiving a product you cannot return! Before purchasing your groceries online, review the store's return policy. You may want to return products if you find they are not gluten-free when they arrive.

If you cannot find your online grocery store's return policy on their website, contact the store directly.

5. Specify in your order that your grocery items must be gluten-free

Sometimes, online grocery stores will provide a substitution item for a product that is not available or is out of stock. Disclosing in your order that a member of your family has celiac disease and requires groceries to be gluten-free may prevent your family from receiving a gluten-containing product. Alternatively, you could state in your order that you do not wish to receive any substituted products and, instead, would like to receive a refund if the grocery item is not available.

Provide your email address and phone number in case the online grocery store needs to contact you to clarify your order.

Online grocery shopping may offer convenience, more selection, and the potential to better track your grocery purchases. While there are benefits to online grocery shopping, it is important that you purchase gluten-free items and clearly communicate your family's needs.

Last updated: February 12th 2024