Wheat Allergy | Corn Tortillas | Allergy

Can a Person with a Wheat Allergy Eat Corn Tortillas?

by Allergy Guy

Tortillas are a staple food in Mexico. The staple crop in Mexico is corn (maize). Put two and two together, and you might assume that if you have a wheat allergy, then you can eat tortillas, right?

It isn’t quite that straight forward.

The traditional recipe for tortillas uses pure corn, and there are still a lot of pure corn tortillas to be had in Mexico. Mostly that is what you will find in local restaurants. If you buy frozen tortillas in a North American supermarket though, it is much more likely to be made of (or with) wheat.

Even in Mexico, not all tortillas are pure corn. Firstly, there is the wheat tortilla, identified by its colour. It is nearly white, where as a corn tortilla is yellowish, and usually has more texture. Large, hand-made tortillas are generally safe. Everyone I spoke to in Mexico was very sure that a hand-made tortilla is pure corn, and that’s the end of it. This may not be true in northern Mexico, I have not had the chance to look into this.

Tortillas bought in Mexican supermarkets may be wheat-free, but they are just as likely to have wheat in the ingredients. You must check every time. If you eat at a food stall, ask where they get their tortillas from. For this, you must know some Spanish, so if you don’t know any Spanish, look for a food stall that uses large tortillas that do not look machine made. If you see the owner making their own (they squeeze a ball of maize dough in a big press, then slap it on a hot grill) then you are safe (at least in central and southern Mexico, again, I have not had the chance to verify northern Mexico).

Of course “tacos” bough in the USA or Canada are pure corn. These are hard discs formed into a U-shape, which can be stuffed with meat and vegetables. They are not Mexican at all, but they are wheat-free!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 maryjane January 13, 2009 at 23:19

watch out

I live in New Mexico and the corn tortillas that are available at the supermarket here are definitely wheat free. Basically the only ingredients there “should” be in corn tortillas is corn, water, lime. We also have many choices of tortilla chip that are made only of corn, water, oil, and salt. However, as for pre-made hard, formed taco shells, many actually have wheat so watch out! We had to look through several brands to find one that didn’t include wheat. Generally my reaction to wheat isn’t that horrible, especially if I don’t eat a lot of it, so I’ll usually go ahead and trust corn tortilla products at most restaurants here, but if you want to be really safe you need to ask…

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2 admin January 14, 2009 at 10:53

Soft tortillas have wheat

Thanks for that comment, Maryjane.

All the soft tortillas I have seen contain wheat.

So always, where ever you are, read the ingredients, ask the waiter, and if in doubt, give it a miss!

Still, tortillas are a good bet most of the time.

I’ve yet to see corn chips with wheat in them, but I always check.

The rise of biofuels may change the price of corn more than wheat, and some manufacturers might start slipping wheat in.

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3 NB April 1, 2008 at 02:39

does yeast free mean no wheat? I cant eat yeast or sugar.

I have Fibromyalgia and have been told a yeast free, sugar free diet helps some sypmtoms and also helps loose weight and detox……I am a little confused with regard to wheat ie whole wheat flour tortillas?? and also, found vinegar was a NO No on the list of yeast free and sugar free foods…why is this???what makes this food off limits???
Thanks

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4 admin April 1, 2008 at 15:56

Wheat is wheat by any name

Restrictive diets certainly can be confusing when you first start on them.

Regarding wheat, a whole wheat flour tortilla will have wheat in it, so that’s off limits.

Wheat comes by many names. Please refer to the following:

Please concentrate on the last one. Yes, you do need to know what to avoid, but dwelling on that will only depress you!

Regarding yeast, see Yeast Allergy.

Vinegar is fermented, somewhat like wine. White vinegar is refined and may be OK, but wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar etc. has certain types of yeast in it.

For more about testing you reaction to foods, see Self-Testing for Food Allergies.

Hope that helps.

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