Decoding Snack Labels: Understanding Gluten-Free, Vegan, Non-GMO, All-Natural and Soy-Free

Navigating snack labels while staying focused on healthy eating habits can be complicated. That’s why more people are seeking snacks that are non-GMO, gluten free or vegan.

But what does all of this mean? It’s important to realize that while some people truly need to avoid gluten for health reasons, most of the gluten-free (GF) buzz is simply marketing by the food industry. So, while a product can’t say it’s GF if it’s not, many products are GF without the claim. For this reason, it’s important to look past marketing to what snack food labels mean.


Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Most bread, pastries and cereals will have it –except when they’re made of rice, potato, oats, tapioca, beans, buckwheat, etc. In those cases, they should be naturally gluten-free, even if the snacks you choose do not make this claim.

healthy snacks

However, keep an eye out for mixed ingredients on labels. You could have an “oat bar” that also includes wheat. Wheat may also be called semolina, spelt, farro, and “cereal grass.”


Soy may appear as soybean oil, soya, soy isolate, soy lecithin, soy protein, and miso. Additionally, anything labeled “tofu” should be suspect since tofu is traditionally made from soybeans.


Humans have been genetically modifying plants for centuries through selective breeding. Did you know that we wouldn’t have bananas, watermelon, or corn without them?

But Genetically Modified Organisms today are different. Genes from non-plant organisms (such as bacteria) are inserted into the DNA to make them herbicide resistant or produce “natural” insecticides.

Unless expressly stated otherwise, you can count on big cash crops like wheat, corn, and soy and their derivatives to be GMO.


When we’re speaking about food, vegan means no animal-derived ingredients. It sounds easy to spot “animal products” on a label. Whether you eat vegan for health concerns or personal preference, here are some non-vegan products you might not know about:

  • Gelatin – made from animal bones
  • Honey – “bee spit” (regurgitated nectar)
  • L-cysteine – food affitive made from featehrs; makes some bagels chewy
  • Chitosan – derived from crustaceans; used to slow decomposition of fruits like bananas

all natural nuts as a healthy snack


Here’s a marketing term that really doesn’t mean anything. Many isolates and unfamiliar chemicals you see on labels have natural origins and were altered. That doesn’t mean they’re bad. These are often just flavor and color enhancers. They have chemical-sounding names but come from natural sources.

BostonbeaN Snack Options Satisfy

You can enjoy a wider variety of snacks when you know what labels mean to ensure that what you are eating aligns with your dietary needs. BostonbeaN offers a wide assortment of healthy snacks (and some sweet ones, too) so that you can stock options to satisfy every member of your team.

Keep those hunger pangs at bay so employees stay energized and focused throughout the day — the perfect accompaniment to our water, tea and coffee machines.