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Beware the corn tortilla, it could have wheat!

Posted By Alison On Sep 29, 2008 @ In Celiac Disease,Gluten Intolerance,Restaurants/Stores,Tips,Wheat Allergy | 27 Comments

I’ve got bad news for you wheat-free and gluten-free people out there: some corn tortillas are now being made with WHEAT GLUTEN! It is a disappointing trend that makes dining out even more difficult. And it’s just another example of how wheat is added to almost everything our society eats… no wonder more and more people are suffering from gluten intolerance and don’t even know it.

I first encountered this at Mamacita restaurant in San Francisco when they opened a few years ago. After it replaced the delicious regular restaurant of mine, Marimba (I still miss it), my husband and I ventured in for brunch one time to see what all the hype was about. After informing our waitperson that we could not eat gluten, he returned to tell us that there was nothing on the menu that we could have. NOTHING! The “corn” tortillas and the tortilla chips had wheat in them. I was seriously shocked (and hungry and really mad and I think I almost cried – I was pregnant at the time!) I checked that restaurant off my list but didn’t suspect that this would be a problem in other places.

A few weeks ago, I received a call from my friend Karen who has been gluten-free for 2 years now. She had eaten at Guaymas restaurant in Tiburon, just north of San Francisco. After she ate one and a half corn tortillas, she stopped. She thought they tasted a little different, kind of sweet, and continued the rest of the meal. Her stomach cramped a little throughout dinner, but she brushed it off, not realizing what she had eaten. The next morning she didn’t feel well. But, since the weather was so beautiful, and the restaurant has a great a view of San Francisco, she and her husband returned the following night. After pressing the waitperson to talk to the chef to find out if there was wheat in the corn tortillas, she found out that indeed there was! Since that night, she has found yet another restaurant using corn tortillas with added wheat.

And then yesterday, I was in a grocery store and saw new tortillas being made my La Tortilla Factory, who makes the gluten-free wraps. I love La Tortilla Factory for going out of their way to create something for the gluten-free community, but now they are making new “handmade style corn tortillas” called De la Cocina (From the Kitchen), that contain WHEAT GLUTEN.

All of these restaurants and makers of tortillas claim that they have “authentic” food. First of all, putting wheat gluten in corn tortillas in not authentic. Authentic corn tortillas are made of corn. Second of all, it is misleading to call it a corn tortilla. How is anyone supposed to know now whether a corn tortilla really means a corn tortilla?

Call them Cornwheat tortillas or at least put a big warning that says “Contains wheat”, so there is no confusion for those of us that count on corn tortillas every time we go out for Mexican food, or, more importantly, to warn those who would have a serious reaction to wheat. Just when I thought food companies were starting to get it…

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