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Avoiding gluten cross-contamination for celiac disease

Lana Bandoim's picture

Cross contamination with gluten is a serious problem for people with celiac disease, and it extends beyond the fear of eating at an unknown restaurant or fast food chain. Although it is easier to control the cooking environment at home, contamination can still become a problem. People who are severely sensitive to small amounts of gluten must learn to avoid this protein.


A study from the Current Opinion in Gastroenterology journal found that cross-contamination was a problem experienced by people who were on a gluten-free diet. The researchers mentioned that foods labeled as free of gluten could still be contaminated with the protein because of shared facilities or packaging. Although there are FDA rules to help reduce the chances of gluten ending up in a product marked as safe, people with celiac disease still have to be vigilant.

Eating out is often cited as the first place to be careful because of the frequency of gluten cross-contamination in restaurants, bars and other locations. Places that promise to cater to restricted diets can still make mistakes and can be careless. It is important to determine if the food on the gluten-free menus is cooked separately in clean pots and pans with utensils not being used for other preparations. You should also request that bread or other items with gluten not touch your plate or table.

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Eating at home can still be dangerous for people with extreme gluten sensitivities because cross-contamination can occur in any kitchen. Many people with celiac disease have learned to use separate counters, shelves, utensils, pots and appliances to avoid ingesting gluten that other family members may eat. If you can afford it, having separate toasters and microwaves for gluten and gluten-free foods is best because crumbs are difficult to remove. Others have simply changed the entire kitchen into a gluten-free zone that does not allow the protein inside.

You may not think about gluten while shopping for kitchen items, but it is still important to consider it. Antiques such as serving platters must be washed thoroughly before being used because it is not possible to tell how much gluten could have accumulated on it over the years. You may also want to consider washing a new kitchen utensil before using it because of potential cross-contamination during manufacturing, transportation and store storage.

Read more about celiac disease:
Celiac disease tips for making bread at home
Saving money while on a gluten-free diet: Celiac disease support

Image: Karen Horton/Wikimedia Commons