barley allergy foods to avoid 102284216

Barley Allergy Foods to Avoid

Author Avatar

Updated on March 7, 2024

Navigating the labyrinth of food choices can feel rather daunting when you’re faced with a troublesome barley allergy. As a team who had to dive into copious amounts of research to craft safe and tasty meals, we’ve discovered that barley happens to be one of the world’s most harvested grain crops.

This blog is your trusty compass, steering you clear from foods laden with barley and guiding you towards scrumptious alternatives for a balanced diet. Shall we embark on this culinary adventure together?

Key Takeaways

  • Barley can be found in various foods such as breads, cereals, pasta sauces, condiments, beer, and whisky.
  • Foods to stay away from if you have a barley allergy or gluten intolerance include bread made from wheat, rye, or barley; cereal containing barley; pasta sauces with barley ingredients; condiments that may contain barley like butter and mustard; beer made from barley grains; and whisky that is primarily made from barley.
  • Some ingredients derived from barley, like lectins and horcolin, can cause allergic reactions and digestive issues for individuals with a barley allergy.
  • Safe alternatives for those with a barley allergy include gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also great options for a healthy diet free of gluten-containing grains like barley.

Foods That Contain Barley

Barley can be found in a variety of foods, such as breads, cereals, pasta sauces, condiments, beer and whisky.

A bowl of barley soup surrounded by a variety of nature-themed photographs.


We need to talk about bread. Bread is a key food that people with barley allergies should avoid. This includes loaves made from wheat, rye and, of course, barley itself. These all have gluten in them, which can cause issues for those with coeliac disease or other gluten-related disorders.

To stay safe, try gluten-free breads instead!


Cereals are a must in our daily meals. They come in many forms, such as wheat, rye, oat, and barley. These cereals have gluten, which is a type of protein. Some people cannot eat food with this protein because they get sick.

Barley is the same grain as corn, durum wheat, rice and rye. It belongs to the Poaceae family. Eating cereals that do not need lots of water to grow, like maize, millet, and sorghum, will not cause trouble for those who cannot take barley.

Pasta Sauces

Pasta sauces can have barley in them. This is bad news if you have a barley allergy or gluten intolerance. Your love for pasta could lead to an allergic reaction! This is because barley has gluten, a no-go for those with coeliac disease or wheat allergy.

We always check the label when we buy pasta sauce from the store to make sure it doesn’t list any cereals containing gluten. It’s sad, but being careful helps avoid any health problems later on.



We must be careful with condiments. Some, like butter, peanut butter, jam and mustard, might have barley in them. This could happen if the same spoon is used for these and for food that has gluten.

It’s easy to forget this can happen! So we need to check all foods before eating them. Even those ones that seem safe at first glance may not be! And, of course, it’s important to avoid any condiment known to contain barley outrightly.


Beer is a no-go for people with a barley allergy. It’s made mainly from barley, one of the key foods that set off allergic reactions in some folks. These reactions can be caused by gluten-like proteins found in the grain.

So, if you love beer but are allergic to barley, don’t worry! There are beers out there made without barley. You just need to look for gluten-free options when picking your pint.


We enjoy a good glass of whisky now and then. But we found out that this drink has barley in it. Barley is the prime grain used in making most whiskies. So, if you have barley allergies, you should be cautious with whisky.

There’s also something known as malt whisky. This type gets made from barley, too, but goes through a process that makes it safe for coeliac disease sufferers. Still, others may have alcohol intolerance due to barley proteins still present in these drinks.

Even gluten-free whiskies might not be safe due to other barley proteins they may contain. So please take note before having your next sip!

Ingredients Derived From Barley

There are a couple of ingredients that are derived from barley, such as lectins and horcolin.

A picturesque sunset scene of a barley field with swaying stalks.


Lectins are a type of protein. They are in many foods like nuts, whole grains and legumes. You can also find them in barley. Some people may have issues with their digestion because of these lectins.

They might get gas or feel bloated. If you eat too much, it could even lead to malnutrition. That’s why if you know you have a barley allergy, it’s best to stay away from foods that have lectins in them.


Horcolin is a substance found in ingredients derived from barley. It’s important to know about Horcolin if you have a barley allergy because it can cause allergic reactions. Some food products, like beer and certain condiments, may contain Horcolin because they use barley-derived ingredients.

However, some manufacturers choose not to use barley-derived ingredients due to the awareness of gluten allergies and coeliac disease. So, if you have a barley allergy, it’s best to avoid consuming products that contain Horcolin.

Barley-Free Ingredients and Food Alternatives

For those with a barley allergy, there are plenty of alternatives to enjoy. Gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa, and buckwheat can be used as substitutes in recipes. Additionally, integrating fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet allows for a wide range of delicious and nutritious meal options.

Gluten-Free Grains

Gluten-free grains are a great alternative for people with barley allergies. Some of these grains include:

  1. Rice: Rice is a popular grain that is naturally gluten-free. It can be used in various dishes, such as stir-fries or as a side dish.
  2. Quinoa: Quinoa is another gluten-free grain that is high in protein and fibre. It can be used as a base for salads or even served as a side dish.
  3. Buckwheat: Despite its name, it is not related to wheat and is gluten-free. It can be ground into flour and used to make pancakes, noodles, or bread.
  4. Millet: It is a nutritious grain that is often used in birdseed but can also be consumed by humans. It has a mild flavour and can be cooked similarly to rice.
  5. Amaranth: An ancient grain that is packed with nutrients. It can be popped like popcorn or used in recipes like porridge or salads.


Rice is a great option for people who have a barley allergy or are sensitive to gluten. It is gluten-free and suitable for individuals with coeliac disease. You can choose from diverse types of rice, such as basmati rice or black rice, depending on your preferences.

However, it’s important to note that individuals who are sensitive to bran may experience allergic reactions when consuming black rice. If you suspect that you have an allergy or intolerance to rice, you can undergo a rice intolerance test to diagnose the issue.

Overall, rice provides a safe and tasty alternative for those looking to avoid barley in their diet.


Quinoa is often considered a healthy alternative to grains that contain gluten. It’s naturally gluten-free, which means it doesn’t have the proteins that can cause problems for people with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.

However, some individuals may still experience allergic symptoms after eating quinoa because of its saponin content. If you’re allergic to quinoa, it’s important to avoid foods that contain this ingredient.

While quinoa can be a good option for many people, those with specific allergies or sensitivities should be cautious and choose other alternatives like rice or buckwheat instead.


Buckwheat is a grain that is not related to barley or wheat, so it’s a good alternative for people with barley allergies. It can be found in various food products like breads, cereals, and pasta sauces.

Buckwheat is gluten-free, which means it doesn’t contain the protein that can cause allergy in some people. However, it’s important to note that buckwheat itself can also cause allergy in certain individuals, leading to symptoms such as hives and difficulty breathing.

So, if you have a barley allergy but want to try buckwheat as an alternative, make sure to monitor your body’s response and consult with a healthcare professional if necessary.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

We all love eating fresh fruits and vegetables because they are delicious and healthy. Plus, if you have a barley allergy, they are safe for you to enjoy. Here are some great options to include in your diet:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Bell peppers
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)

Symptoms of Barley Allergy

Barley allergy can cause various symptoms, including skin reactions such as hives or eczema, breathing difficulties like wheezing or shortness of breath, and abdominal cramps or digestive issues.

Skin Reactions

Skin reactions are common symptoms of a barley allergy. When you have a reaction, your skin becomes itchy and red, and it might even swell up. Sometimes, you get a rash on your skin. It can happen on different parts of your body, like the face, eyes, lips, or tongue.

It’s not fun to deal with these reactions, but there are tests available that can help diagnose if you have a barley allergy. So, if you notice any skin irritations after eating foods that contain barley, it’s important to pay attention and talk to your doctor about it.

Breathing Difficulties

Breathing difficulties can be a symptom of barley allergy. When you eat barley or foods containing barley, it can cause problems with your breathing. It’s not just you – many people with a barley allergy experience respiratory distress, too.

In severe cases, it might lead to a life-threatening allergic reaction that affects the airways and breathing, called anaphylaxis. It’s important for those of us with this allergy to be cautious and avoid any foods or drinks that contain barley to prevent these unpleasant breathing symptoms from occurring.

Abdominal Cramps

Barley allergies can cause digestive discomfort, including abdominal cramps. If you’re having coeliac disease or gluten intolerance triggered by consuming barley, you may experience recurring symptoms of abdominal cramps.

Foods like bread, cereal, and pasta that contain barley can lead to these uncomfortable digestive reactions in individuals with barley allergies. It’s important to be aware of the connection between barley and abdominal cramps if you have a sensitivity or allergy to this grain.


In conclusion, if you have a barley allergy, it’s important to be aware of the foods that may contain barley and avoid them. This includes breads, cereals, pasta sauces, condiments, beer, and whisky.

Look out for ingredients derived from barley, such as lectins and horcolin. Instead, opt for gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa or fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure a safe and healthy diet.

Stay vigilant with reading food labels to prevent any accidental consumption of barley-containing products.


1. Can I still eat gluten-free products if I have a barley allergy?

Not all gluten-free products are safe for those with a barley allergy, as some may still contain traces of barley. It’s important to read labels carefully and look out for any potential cross-contamination.

2. Are there any alternative grains or flours that can be used instead of barley?

Yes, there are several alternative grains and flours that can be used instead of barley, including rice, corn, oats (if labelled gluten-free), quinoa, and millet.

3. Can I consume malt vinegar if I have a barley allergy?

Malt vinegar is typically made from barley and should be avoided by those with a barley allergy. Instead, consider using alternative vinegars such as apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.

4. How to ensure that the foods I eat are safe for my barley allergy?

To ensure your safety with a barley allergy, it’s important to carefully read ingredient labels on food packaging to check for the presence of any forms of wheat or gluten, which include ingredients like malt extracts/flavourings/colouring agents/syrups/barley/rye/triticale/oats in bulk form unless tested & confirmed they’re free from contamination through analysis done at an independent lab before being approved for consumption.

Share with our social media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *