Gluten Free Diet and Nachos

by Allergy Guy

Gluten free diet usually means being very strict about it, especially if you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy.  Are Nachos from restaurants safe?

At first, nachos appear like they should be gluten-free, and therefore safe for celiacs and those with a gluten allergy.

Because even tiny amounts of gluten can trigger gluten allergy symptoms or set off celiac problems, we have to consider this very carefully.

Gluten-Free Corn Chips

In most cases, corn chips, one of the main ingredients in nachos, are gluten-free.  This sounds like a good start, and it is.

But are all corn chips gluten-free in all cases?  I am disturbed the the appearance of adulterated products on the market, such as rice crackers with wheat added.

You can not trust that, just because corn chips should be gluten-free, that all brands really are gluten-free.  Always check ingredients.  If you order nachos in a restaurant, you have to be sure they use a brand that uses 100% corn.  Don’t be complacent about this.  If you ask 99 times, there is still a chance that in the 100th case, the corn chips have wheat in them.

Gluten-Contaminated Deep Fryer Oil

The biggest risk of ordering nachos when avoiding gluten is that the corn chips are deep fried.

Most of the time, restaurants deep fry many different types of food, most covered in wheat-based batter.

Gluten can get into the oil used in the deep fryer, and attach itself to the corn chips.

This is unfortunate, as it contaminates the nachos for sensitive individuals.

If you have a gluten allergy, this may not be enough to bother you – only you can tell.

If you have celiac disease, then any amount of gluten is too much, even if you don’t notice the symptoms, so you have to avoid nachos deep fried in the same oil as wheat-based foods.

Gluten Cross-Contamination in Restaurants

Toped with cheese, chopped olives, and other goodies, nachos do need some preparation.

There is a risk that the preparation may lead to gluten contamination from other meals, especially from sliced bread, if the bread is used on the same surface as other food preparation.

This varies form restaurant to restaurant, and from menu to menu, but it is a distinct risk.

Are Nachos Safe for a Gluten Free Diet?

While not usually packed full of gluten (unless the corn chips are not 100% corn), nachos are a risky choice for very sensitive individuals.  This includes all celiacs, and some people with a gluten allergy.

You are best to avoid nachos in most cases.  You may wish to quiz the cook, find out if anything containing wheat is deep fried in the same oil as the nachos, and ensure that the corn chips are wheat-free.  If that all checks out, it might be worth the risk.

Have you had problems with Nachos and your gluten free diet?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Ben McDonnell November 23, 2017 at 19:31

In restaurants here in the UK I am often served imitation “Nachos” made entirely with wheat. The question is why? Why would anyone want to make imitation Nachos that taste nasty and poison gluten allergic people? It’s not as if pure tortilla chips are expensive. We have funny attitudes to eating in the UK.

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