Do Don Miguel mini tacos have gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause serious health issues. With so many gluten-free options available nowadays, those avoiding gluten want to know if popular foods like Don Miguel mini tacos are safe to eat.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and all their species and hybrids (such as spelt, kamut, and triticale).

The two main proteins that make up gluten are:

  • Gliadin
  • Glutenin

When flour and water are mixed together, these proteins form elastic strands that give bread dough its chewy texture. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape and gives a chewy texture.

For most people, gluten does not cause any issues. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it can lead to serious health problems.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. This damages the villi, which are small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine and promote nutrient absorption.

When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body. This can lead to symptoms like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anemia

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease. It affects around 1% of people worldwide.

The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. When gluten is removed from the diet, the intestine can heal and symptoms will resolve over time.

What is non-celiac gluten sensitivity?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a condition where gluten triggers symptoms, but celiac disease and wheat allergy have been ruled out.

People with NCGS experience issues like:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Symptoms appear after consuming gluten and resolve when gluten is removed from the diet. Yet tests appear normal and no damage can be seen in the small intestine.

The exact cause of NCGS is not fully understood, but it is estimated to affect around 6% of people.

Why must those with celiac disease avoid gluten?

For people with celiac disease, consuming gluten triggers an immune reaction that damages the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten (like traces in sauces or cross-contamination) can cause issues.

Eating gluten can lead to:

  • Severe intestinal damage and malabsorption of nutrients
  • Health complications like osteoporosis, infertility, neurological issues and certain cancers

That’s why those with celiac disease must maintain a 100% strict lifelong gluten-free diet with no cheating. This is the only way to manage the disease.

Do Don Miguel mini taco shells have gluten?

The packaging and website for Don Miguel mini taco shells state that they are made from corn flour or masa flour. Therefore, Don Miguel mini taco shells do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients.

Corn tortillas and corn taco shells are naturally gluten-free. Corn does not contain gluten. Don Miguel mini taco shells are made from stone-ground corn masa flour, water, and trace ingredients. They do not contain any wheat, barley, rye or gluten ingredients.

So the taco shells themselves can be considered gluten-free. However, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should still check all other ingredients and be aware of cross-contamination.

Are Don Miguel mini taco shells safe for celiac disease?

For those with celiac disease, even tiny amounts of cross-contamination can trigger a reaction. That’s why it’s important to consider the manufacturing process of gluten-free foods.

Don Miguel mini taco shells are labeled gluten-free, indicating that steps are taken to avoid cross-contamination. The Don Miguel website states:

“Our products are produced in facilities free of gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and soy. Our manufacturing facilities have programs in place to address cross-contamination of allergens.”

So Don Miguel mini taco shells themselves should be safe for those with celiac disease. However, other allergens like corn are still processed onsite. Those with corn allergy should take caution.

It’s also important to check all ingredients inside the taco shells and beware of cross-contamination at home or restaurants.

Are Don Miguel mini taco fillings gluten-free?

Don Miguel mini taco shells may be gluten-free, but people still need to check the ingredients in the taco fillings. Fillings often include sauces, seasonings and meat that could contain gluten or cross-contamination.

For example, taco meat can contain gluten from fillers or soy sauce. Seasoning mixes may contain wheat flour or maltodextrin from gluten sources. Sauces and salsas can contain wheat thickeners or malt vinegar from barley.

So while the shell is gluten-free, the other ingredients must be verified. Contacting manufacturers directly and reviewing allergen information is important.

Are Don Miguel mini tacos safe from cross-contamination?

Cross-contamination is another consideration, both at home and restaurants:

  • At home: Fillings, utensils and pans should be kept separate from gluten-containing foods if also used by family members who eat gluten. Crumbs around the kitchen can also contaminate.
  • At restaurants: Don Miguel shells may get contaminated from shared fryers or utensils. It’s important to check protocols at individual restaurants.

So while the base taco shells may be gluten-free, cross-contamination is still a risk from fillings, restaurant procedures and household practices.

List of potential sources of gluten in Don Miguel mini tacos

Here is a summary of the potential sources of gluten when consuming Don Miguel mini tacos:

Ingredient Contains Gluten? Notes
Taco shells No Labeled gluten-free. Made from corn.
Meats Sometimes May contain gluten fillers, batter or marinades.
Cheese No Most cheeses are gluten-free.
Salsas Sometimes May contain malt vinegar or wheat thickeners.
Sauces Sometimes May contain soy sauce, maltodextrin or wheat flour.
Seasonings Sometimes Seasoning blends may contain gluten ingredients.
Cross-Contamination Possibly May occur from cooking methods or shared kitchen items.

Tips for eating Don Miguel mini tacos gluten-free

Here are some tips for safely eating Don Miguel mini tacos if you are avoiding gluten:

  • Verify all taco fillings and ingredients are gluten-free by contacting manufacturers
  • Check allergen information for potential wheat or barley ingredients
  • In restaurants, ask about ingredient sources and preparation methods
  • At home, keep tacos separate from gluten-containing foods
  • Use designated gluten-free cooking supplies and prep areas
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after meal prep

By checking all ingredients and being aware of cross-contamination risk, those avoiding gluten for medical reasons can still enjoy Don Miguel mini tacos.

Should you avoid Don Miguel mini tacos with gluten sensitivity?

Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be able to tolerate small amounts of cross-contamination. The choice depends on individual tolerance levels.

Some with NCGS choose to eat gluten-free the majority of the time but still occasionally consume traces of gluten. Others need to be as strict as those with celiac disease.

It’s best to try eliminating gluten completely first to see if symptoms improve. Then slowly reintroduce and see if any tolerance thresholds can be determined.

Those with severe sensitivities likely need to avoid Don Miguel mini tacos unless all ingredients are confirmed gluten-free. But less sensitive individuals may be able tolerate potential traces of cross-contamination.

Don Miguel mini taco gluten-free certifications

No gluten-free certifications are listed for Don Miguel mini taco shells. However, they make a gluten-free claim on packaging and the website.

There are a few common gluten-free certifications to look for:

  • GFCO Certification: Products are tested to under 10ppm of gluten.
  • NSF Certification: Facility and products follow guidelines to avoid cross-contamination.
  • GIG Certification: Products have been tested rigorously to below 10ppm of gluten.

While Don Miguel mini taco shells don’t have an independent certification, their procedures should render the corn shells safe for gluten-free diets. But as always, diligence is still required for best results.

Should celiac disease patients eat Don Miguel mini tacos?

Celiac disease patients need to completely avoid gluten to prevent intestinal damage. Even traces of cross-contamination can trigger issues.

Don Miguel mini taco shells themselves appear to be safe, based on their gluten-free labeling and corn-based recipe. However, celiac patients would still need to verify ALL ingredients, seasonings and manufacturing procedures before consuming.

It would be best if Don Miguel mini tacos obtained a certified gluten-free certification to provide added assurance. Until then, celiac patients may want to exercise caution and choose certified options instead.


In summary, Don Miguel mini taco shells are labeled gluten-free and made from corn flour. But gluten may still be introduced through fillings, seasonings or cross-contact situations.

Those with celiac disease or NCGS need to thoroughly investigate all ingredients, manufacturing processes and potential for cross-contamination. An official gluten-free certification could offer added assurance.

In general, Don Miguel mini taco shells can be part of a gluten-free diet as long as proper precautions are taken. But diligence is required to avoid adverse reactions to any potential traces of gluten.

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