Gluten cross contamination is a real thing. Did you know one lousy bread crumb is enough to make a gluten free person sick? That is, using the crumbed chicken tongs to turn your steak in a fry pan or a bread crumb falling onto your plate as the waiter carries the bread basket out on top of your meal. Not only does this cross contamination lead to some nasty side-effects for most gluten free people, for people with coeliac disease it is also health damaging in the long term.
So how do you avoid gluten contamination and maintain your health?
When you go gluten free make sure you thoroughly clean your kitchen. If the whole house isn't going to be gluten free, then you must educate your family or housemates about you condition and the importance of gluten free areas. Here is our guide to making you kitchen gluten free friendly.
At home, for the dual gluten and gluten free kitchen
- Keep your kitchen clean and tidy, not just the benches but the cupboards and fridge too.
- Label everything and keep it airtight with clips or in containers.
- Get a toaster specifically for gluten free bread.
- Clean and clean again if using the grill or sandwich press for gluten free food.
- Have separate and specifically labelled gluten free condiments and butter etc.
- If cooking gluten free pasta and normal pasta use different pots, spoons and colanders. Pay close attention to not confuse them! The easiest thing to do though is just cook gluten free for everyone when preparing these types of meals.
- If deep frying at home, use fresh, clean oil for gluten free foods.
- When serving food give each plate its own serving implements.
- Do not serve a platter or cheese plate with both normal and gluten free crackers. Dips and knifes can easily be cross contaminated.
- BBQ gluten free food in tin foil or on baking paper to prevent it from touching the BBQ.
Eating out when you require gluten free food is a cause for vigilance but you will get used to it! Here are our tips for eating out;
Some basic questions you might like to ask, once you are sure the ingredients are gluten free of course, are;
- Will it be cooked separately from gluten containing foods.
- Will clean or specifically gluten free cutting boards and utensils be used.
- Can they be careful to prepare the food away from other meals to reduce the risk of cross contamination.
Eating at a friend or family member's
The people who love you will always try very hard to look after you but you may need to do a bit of investigating before you sit down to their meal to ensure there is no cross contamination. Do it kindly, because you don't want to scare them off cooking for you again but if you find something that isn't gluten free, don't eat it out of politeness! Always offer to bring a dish, be available to answering questions before an occasion and send them some tips to cooking for a gluten free guest. Here are some tips on what to look for before digging in;
- Check for the unassuming non gluten free ingredients such as soy sauce, stocks, gravies, mayonnaises, wheaten cornflour and icing sugar.
- If gluten containing food was prepared as well ask about utensils and preparation areas to ensure they were safe.
- If there is a BBQ involved ask for gluten free food to be cooked in tin foil or on baking paper and make sure separate utensils are used or that it is cooked first, otherwise just cook your own in a frying pan inside.
- Dig in first! Ask politely if you can serve yourself first, this way none of the dishes have a chance to be cross contaminated before you get to them.