Are Topo Chico Margarita seltzers gluten-free?

As someone who enjoys the occasional margarita but also aims to follow a gluten-free diet, I was curious to find out if Topo Chico’s popular margarita seltzers are safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. With the rise in popularity of hard seltzers in recent years, it’s great to have more low-calorie, gluten-free alcoholic beverage options. But are the Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers actually gluten-free? Let’s take a closer look.

What are Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers?

Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers are a line of alcoholic, ready-to-drink beverages made by Topo Chico in partnership with Molson Coors. Topo Chico is a brand known for its iconic sparkling mineral water, which originates from the Cerro del Topo Chico spring in Monterrey, Mexico. The margarita seltzers combine this lightly carbonated water with tequila and natural lime flavors to create a convenience store-friendly canned cocktail.

The seltzers come in 12 oz slim cans and are 4.7% alcohol by volume. There are currently two flavors available: Tangy Lemon Lime and Strawberry Hibiscus. They are gluten-free, low in calories (96 per can), and made without any artificial sweeteners or preservatives. The mix of refreshing mineral water, real tequila, and natural flavors makes these an appealing option for people looking for a ready-to-drink margarita that’s bubbly and not too sweet.

Are flavored malt beverages generally gluten-free?

Before investigating Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers specifically, it’s helpful to understand whether flavored malt beverages (like hard seltzers) are typically safe for people avoiding gluten. Beer is obviously off-limits for anyone following a gluten-free diet, since it’s made from barley (a gluten-containing grain). But what about fermented, gluten-free sugars like cane sugar and agave nectar that are simply mixed with alcohol?

The consensus seems to be that pure hard seltzers and flavored malt beverages made only with gluten-free ingredients (e.g. cane sugar, fruit flavors) and gluten-free alcohol bases like sugar cane are generally considered gluten-free. Of course, it’s always important to double check the packaging and research individual brands.

Potential sources of gluten could include:

  • Malt barley or wheat used in fermentation
  • Added flavors containing gluten
  • Cross-contamination during manufacturing if facilities also process gluten-containing ingredients

But assuming the alcohol base is gluten-free and no gluten-containing grains or additives are used, flavored malt beverages are typically safe on a gluten-free diet. Popular brands like White Claw, Truly, and Bon & Viv are marketed as gluten-free.

Are Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers gluten-free?

So what about the ingredient list and manufacturing process specifically for Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers? Based on the packaging and information provided by the manufacturer, Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers do appear to be gluten-free.

Here are the key reasons why:

  • The ingredients list does not contain any gluten sources like wheat, barley, rye or malt.
  • The alcohol is distilled from sugar cane, a gluten-free base.
  • The seltzers are produced at Molson Coors Beverage Company’s facility in Fort Worth, TX. This facility does not process any gluten-containing grains according to the manufacturer.
  • The product packaging states the beverages are “gluten-free.”

Topo Chico’s website also confirms the seltzers are gluten-free. On the FAQ page, in response to the question “Are Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers Gluten-Free?” they state:

“Yes. Topo Chico Margarita Seltzer is gluten-free. Our seltzer is fermented from cane sugar and contains no gluten ingredients. The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), an independent organization that certifies products as gluten-free, has also reviewed and certified Topo Chico Margarita Seltzer as gluten-free.”

This level of verification from a trusted third-party certification organization provides extra assurance that care has been taken to avoid cross-contamination. The Gluten Intolerance Group’s certification involves on-site inspections and gluten testing of both raw ingredients and finished products.

Ingredient list

Let’s take a closer look at the exact ingredients printed on Topo Chico Margarita Seltzer cans and packs:

Tangy Lemon Lime Ingredients:

  • Sparkling water
  • Alcohol distilled from sugar cane
  • Natural flavor
  • Citric acid
  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)

Strawberry Hibiscus Ingredients:

  • Sparkling water
  • Alcohol distilled from sugar cane
  • Natural flavor
  • Citric acid
  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
  • Red cabbage concentrate (for color)

Scanning this list, there are clearly no wheat, barley, rye or malt ingredients that would contain gluten. The alcohol is made from a gluten-free base of sugarcane. And the flavors are listed as “natural flavors” without specifically calling out any problematic grain sources.

Manufacturing process

In addition to the gluten-free ingredients, Topo Chico also appears to use a production process that avoids cross-contamination with gluten. As mentioned previously, the Molson Coors facility in Fort Worth, TX where Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers are produced does not handle any gluten-containing grains. And the facility and product lines are subject to thorough cleaning and testing procedures to avoid gluten cross-contact.

Here are some of the gluten-free manufacturing precautions implemented by Molson Coors:

  • Facilities are designed so there is complete physical separation between gluten-containing and gluten-free production lines.
  • Separate equipment is used for gluten-free production.
  • Rigorous sanitation procedures are followed including flushing lines between products and extensive cleaning before and after gluten-free production runs.
  • Gluten testing is performed regularly on ingredients, in process samples during production runs, and on finished products.

With these manufacturing controls in place, in addition to certification from the Gluten Intolerance Group, consumers can feel confident Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers are produced in a manner that avoids gluten cross-contact.

Verdict: Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers are gluten-free

Based on an evaluation of the ingredients list, manufacturing process, and third-party certification, Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers do appear to be a gluten-free alcoholic beverage option:

  • No gluten-containing ingredients are used to make the seltzers.
  • The production facility and production lines are completely free of gluten exposure.
  • Rigorous procedures are followed to avoid cross-contamination.
  • The Gluten Intolerance Group has certified the products as gluten-free after extensive review.

While it’s always smart for anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to take an extra level of precaution, Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers seem to be formulated and manufactured with the highest standards in mind when it comes to gluten safety.

Of course it’s also a good idea to review the latest packaging and manufacturer information for any new gluten-free product, since ingredients and processes can change over time. But at the time of writing, Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers appear to be a delicious gluten-free option for mallaritas!

Other tips for enjoying Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers gluten-free

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind if you need to avoid gluten and want to enjoy Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers safely:

  • Check packaging for “gluten-free” label – Make sure your packaging states the seltzers are gluten-free, which confirms no recipe changes have occurred.
  • Consume straight from the can – Pouring into a glass could introduce cross-contact from shared surfaces, utensils, etc. so your safest bet is to drink straight from a fresh, sealed can.
  • Verify no mixing with gluten ingredients – If drinking Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers at a bar or restaurant, make sure they have not been mixed with a gluten-containing ingredient like beer or malt-based syrup.
  • Use dedicated gluten-free preparation areas – At home, avoid any cross-contact by preparing and serving your Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers in a dedicated gluten-free zone.

By starting with a gluten-free base and taking a few simple precautions, you can feel confident enjoying refreshing Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers while maintaining your gluten-free diet!

The bottom line

Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers are a convenient, refreshing way to enjoy ready-to-drink malt beverages in fun flavors like Tangy Lemon Lime and Strawberry Hibiscus. For those needing to avoid gluten, the good news is that Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers are formulated without any gluten-containing ingredients and produced in a facility free of gluten exposure. The manufacturer also obtains third-party certification to confirm the gluten-free status of the products. So based on all available information, Topo Chico Margarita Seltzers can be considered a gluten-free option – just remember to always check the packaging and enjoy straight from a sealed can to be extra careful!

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