Are Hot Tamales celiac safe?

Hot Tamales are a popular cinnamon flavored candy made by Just Born. They have a chewy texture and spicy cinnamon flavor that makes them an iconic and nostalgic treat for many. But for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the safety of Hot Tamales may be a concern. So are Hot Tamales celiac safe?

The quick answer is yes, Hot Tamales are considered gluten-free and safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Hot Tamales do not contain any wheat, barley, or rye ingredients that contain gluten. They are made without gluten-containing grains. The candy is produced in a facility that does not process any gluten ingredients. And independent gluten testing has verified the products contain less than 10 ppm of gluten.

Ingredients in Hot Tamales

To understand if Hot Tamales are celiac safe, we need to look at the ingredients. Hot Tamales contain the following main ingredients:

– Sugar
– Corn syrup
– Hydrogenated coconut oil
– Less than 2% of: citric acid, artificial flavors, carnauba wax, carmine color, sodium phosphate, monoglycerides, & sodium alginate.

None of these ingredients contain gluten. Sugar, corn syrup, and hydrogenated coconut oil make up the bulk of the candy. Citric acid provides sour taste. Artificial flavors, carnauba wax, carmine color, and other minor ingredients enhance the flavor, color, and texture.

Importantly, the ingredient list does not contain any wheat, rye, barley or ingredients derived from these gluten-containing grains. This is the first sign that Hot Tamales are likely gluten-free.

Manufacturing Process

In addition to the gluten-free ingredients, the manufacturing process for Hot Tamales is important in assessing celiac safety.

Hot Tamales are produced by Just Born, a candy manufacturer located in Pennsylvania. The facility and equipment used to make Hot Tamales are dedicated entirely to gluten-free candy production. No wheat or gluten ingredients are used on the same equipment as Hot Tamales. This dramatically reduces the risk of cross-contamination during manufacturing.

Additionally, Just Born implements thorough cleaning protocols and regular gluten testing to ensure no detectable gluten. The facility and production lines adhere to gluten-free standards and avoid shared equipment with gluten ingredients.

Third Party Testing

Further evidence that Hot Tamales are celiac safe comes from independent third-party testing. Samples of Hot Tamales have been sent to professional gluten testing labs.

The most recognized gluten testing certification is the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO). GFCO requires that products contain 10 parts per million or less of gluten in order to be certified gluten-free. They test the products in an accredited lab.

Hot Tamales have been tested by GFCO and contain less than 10 ppm of gluten. This strict third-party testing confirms that Hot Tamales are low enough in gluten to be considered celiac safe.

Statements from the Manufacturer

The manufacturer, Just Born, has explicitly stated that Hot Tamales are gluten-free. Here is their statement on Hot Tamales and gluten:

“Hot Tamales® Candy DOES NOT contain any gluten ingredients. However, they are manufactured in the same facility that processes other products with gluten so there is a possibility that they contain traces of gluten.”

While they acknowledge the possibility of trace amounts of gluten due to shared facility, independent lab testing has shown it to be below certification levels. Just Born’s transparency and declaration that Hot Tamales are gluten-free provide further support that they are safe.

Reactions from Celiac Organizations

Beyond the manufacturer, celiac advocacy groups also consider Hot Tamales to be celiac safe.

The Celiac Support Association, one of the leading non-profits for people with celiac disease, has marked Hot Tamales as a gluten-free food that is safe to consume. Other celiac organizations have endorsed Hot Tamales as a gluten-free candy option.

These endorsements from reputable celiac groups provide added reassurance that Hot Tamales adequately protect against cross-contact and test below the necessary thresholds.

Individual Tolerance and Sensitivity

While all evidence points to Hot Tamales being gluten-free, individual tolerance levels can vary. Factors like celiac disease severity and gluten sensitivity impact how much cross-contact is safe.

For the majority of people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, Hot Tamales fall well below the gluten limits that cause issues. But others may be extra sensitive. It’s important to try a small amount first and discontinue use if any symptoms occur. Drink plenty of water to dilute any trace gluten.

Those with more mild gluten issues can more freely enjoy Hot Tamales. But people with severe celiac disease should take extra care and monitor themselves for reactions.

Kids with Celiac Disease

For kids and children with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, extra caution with Hot Tamales may be warranted. Kids tend to be more sensitive and less able to tolerate small amounts of gluten. Parents should check with their child’s doctor before introducing Hot Tamales.

Trying a tiny portion first is advised. Discontinue use if any issues arise. Overall, the testing indicates Hot Tamales are likely safe for most celiac children. But individual discretion based on celiac severity is important, especially for a new food.

Pregnancy and Celiac Disease

For pregnant women with celiac disease, sticking to a gluten-free diet is critical to baby’s health. Pregnancy impacts celiac disease and often increases sensitivity and reaction to gluten.

While Hot Tamales are considered gluten-free, it’s best for pregnant women to exercise caution and consult their doctor before consuming. Some OBGYNs may advise avoiding entirely until after giving birth in order to eliminate any risk of cross-contact. Each case may be different.

Cross-Contact Risks

Cross-contact refers to trace amounts of gluten transferred from other products in shared manufacturing environments. Even gluten-free items can pick up traces of gluten from equipment, workers, and airborne particles.

This presents a small risk with any product not made in an exclusively gluten-free facility. Although Hot Tamales undergo stringent cleaning and testing, the shared facility creates potential for cross-contact.

However, the levels have been found to be below 10 ppm through numerous independent lab tests. The cross-contact appears well controlled. No incidents of reactions have been reported from Hot Tamales due to gluten cross-contact.

Gluten-Free Labeling

Currently, Hot Tamales do not carry any official gluten-free labeling. The packaging and marketing does not include a gluten-free badge or claim. Some consumers look for the certification for added peace of mind.

However, a lack of gluten-free label does not mean the product is unsafe. Hot Tamales likely meet the requirements but have opted not to pursue official third-party certification and labeling at this time. The existing testing still supports that Hot Tamales fall under gluten-free standards.

Are Hot Tamales Vegan?

In addition to being gluten-free, many people wonder if Hot Tamales are also vegan friendly. Unfortunately, Hot Tamales are not vegan due to containing carmine-based red food coloring.

Carmine is a red dye made from crushed cochineal insects. Certain colors of Hot Tamales use this non-vegan additive. So strict vegans would want to avoid Hot Tamales. But they can safely be eaten on gluten-free, vegetarian, or other diets as long as celiac precautions are followed.

Other Flavors and Versions

The standard original cinnamon Hot Tamales are both gluten-free and celiac safe. But Just Born also makes other flavors and varieties. These include:

– Hot Tamales Fire: Cinnamon and Chile Pepper Flavor
– Hot Tamales Fierce Cinnamon
– Hot Tamales Tropical Heat: Mango and Chile Pepper
– Hot Tamales Sizzlin’ Cinnamon
– Hot Tamales Candy Corn
– Hot Tamales Gummi

According to Just Born, all types of Hot Tamales are gluten-free to the same extent as the original version. However, it is always smart to check the ingredients list for any potential recipe changes whenever trying a new flavor. Stick to the standard cinnamon if unsure.

Where to Buy Hot Tamales

Hot Tamales can be found at most major candy retailers. Here are some common places to purchase Hot Tamales:

– Grocery stores – Check the seasonal candy aisle near the registers. Larger chains like Walmart, Target, Kroger, Publix, and Safeway often carry them.

– Convenience stores – Brands like Wawa, 7-Eleven, and Casey’s General Store will have Hot Tamales in stock. Look near the checkout.

– Candy specialty stores – Stores like IT’SUGAR, Sugarfina, and Dylan’s Candy Bar sell Hot Tamales.

– Online – Hot Tamales can be purchased from retailers like Amazon, Candy Warehouse, Blair Candy Company.

– Movie theaters – Many cinemas sell Hot Tamales at their snack bars along with other candy favorites.

Always check that you are purchasing the original Hot Tamales. Some third-party sellers offer knock-offs so beware. For celiac safety, stick with reputable retailers and check that Just Born is listed as the manufacturer.

Price Comparison of Hot Tamales

Hot Tamales come in a few different package sizes. Here is a price comparison among some popular retailers:

Retailer 5oz Box 1.125oz Box 1lb Bag
Amazon $1.59 $0.69 $8.99
Walmart $1.98 $0.78 $8.48
Target $1.69 $0.79 $8.79

As you can see, prices tend to be fairly consistent across major retailers. Amazon offers the best deals for buying Hot Tamales in bulk. For small single serve packs, Walmart has the best rates. Target has slightly higher prices overall.

Gluten Free Alternative Candy

In case you want additional gluten-free candy options beyond Hot Tamales, here are some recommended alternatives:

– Skittles – Another chewy fruit candy made by Mars that is gluten-free. Avoid “Darkside Skittles” as they have different ingredients.

– Swedish Fish – Chewy fish-shaped gummy candy by Mondelez International that comes in a variety of flavors.

– Jolly Rancher Hard Candy – Bold fruit-flavored suckers made by The Hershey Company that are gluten-free.

– Sour Patch Kids – Soft, chewy candy with a sour coating and fun shapes. Manufactured by Mondelez.

– Smarties – Both the American version (made by Smarties Candy Company) and the international version (by Nestle) are gluten-free.

– Haribo Gummy Bears – Classic gummi bear candies naturally gluten-free but some flavors contain wheat so double check.

– Twizzlers – Licorice twists and ropes made wheat-free by The Hershey Company. Select flavors are gluten-free.

– Dum Dums – Popular lollipops from Spangler Candy Company that avoid barley malt and gluten ingredients.

Tips for Safely Enjoying Hot Tamales with Celiac

Here are some tips for safely eating Hot Tamales with celiac disease:

– Check the ingredients every time you buy Hot Tamales to ensure no recipe changes with gluten added.

– Carefully check the packaging to make sure it is the Just Born brand and not a knock-off.

– Start by eating a small portion such as 1-2 pieces to test your reaction when trying for the first time.

– Have some gluten-free snacks on hand in case symptoms arise so you can restore gluten-free intake.

– Avoid eating Hot Tamales if you are currently experiencing celiac symptoms or have just been “glutened.”

– Look into buying Hot Tamales in bulk on online sites like Amazon to have gluten-free candy readily available.

– Combine eating Hot Tamales with probiotics to support gut health and digestive function.

– Choose plain Hot Tamales without other ingredients mixed in that may add gluten.

– Call the manufacturer if ever in doubt about ingredient changes or safety protocols.

Should You Eat Hot Tamales If Sensitive to Gluten?

If you have celiac disease or are highly sensitivity to gluten, exercise some caution with Hot Tamales, especially when eating them for the first time. While testing shows the risk is very low, they are manufactured in a shared facility so cross-contact is possible.

Try a small amount first and wait 48 hours to see if any symptoms develop. Be sure to check every package for any recipe changes. And consider avoiding Hot Tamales entirely if you are pregnant or already ill when celiac tends to flare up.

For those with milder sensitivities or well-controlled celiac disease, Hot Tamales do not contain gluten ingredients and are likely safe in moderation. But don’t overindulge just to be safe. Overall, the testing data supports most gluten-free consumers should be able to safely enjoy Hot Tamales.


In summary, Hot Tamales can be considered celiac safe based on:

– No gluten ingredients
– Dedicated gluten-free production
– Third party certification testing
– Manufacturer declarations
– Endorsements from celiac organizations

While no food is 100% guaranteed gluten-free, Hot Tamales present very minimal risk of cross-contamination based on thorough independent testing. Most people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities can safely consume Hot Tamales in moderation as part of a gluten-free diet. Always exercise individual caution and monitor reactions when trying any new product.

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