If you have gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, you already know that you need to scrutinize labels of any products that might contain wheat, rye or barley. As little as one-eighth of a tsp. of the gluten protein found in these grains can set off a reaction. Many Margarita mixes contain gluten, but you also can find gluten-free Margarita mixes. Tequila, which is used to make a Margarita, doesn't contain gluten.
Because wheat is one of the eight most-common food allergens, in addition to being a trigger for celiac sufferers, manufactured food products that contain wheat must include this information on their nutritional label. This makes it easy to discover when wheat is as an ingredient in Margarita mixes. The label might say wheat flour, wheat starch or hydrolyzed wheat protein.
Barley, on the other hand, may be present in any food product that lists “malt” as an ingredient. Avoid barley malt, malt vinegar, rice malt, malt extract, malt flavoring and malt syrup. A drink mix labeled gluten-free should not contain any of these ingredients.
If you order a Margarita in a restaurant, don’t assume it’s gluten-free. Ask your server to verify that it is. Some restaurant chains list foods or drinks containing gluten on their websites or menus. Remember that mixing a drink using the same blender or spoon that was used to make a drink containing gluten, or handling a basket of chips containing gluten and then handling your glass, could contaminate your drink. Let your server know you have a gluten intolerance so that she’ll take extra care to avoid contaminating your drink.
If you have gluten intolerance, reading labels can seem like a full-time job. But if it keeps you symptoms-free, it’s worth it. Don’t rely on manufacturers to be consistent from one year to the next. Just because a mix was gluten-free at one point doesn’t mean it will remain that way, so always read labels. If a mix contains no gluten but the label states that the product was made in the same factory or on the same equipment used for gluten-free products, avoid it.