You have celiac disease and you know you need to avoid certain foods like barley, rye, wheat, and other ingredients as well as products that are derived from them. Do you also know the dangers of cross-contamination and how you can be affected?

As you begin to implement your gluten-free diet, it will be important to set up your gluten-free kitchen at home. 

First, be aware that there are many places in your kitchen where gluten might exist silently. And even a little gluten is enough to make you sick. Even a pinch of gluten can set off an autoimmune response. Many people find that preventing cross-contamination is one of the biggest challenges of a gluten-free diet.

Cross-Contact and Cross-Contamination

Cross-contact happens when any gluten-free food gets exposed to any food which has gluten. If this happens, the food becomes unsafe for people with celiac to consume. There are several ways which food faces a risk of cross-contact and at times this happens even before the food makes its way to your kitchen. Cross-contact can happen at any time during the manufacturing, processing or even during growing periods.

Cross-contamination means that the food is contaminated by gluten in which some glutenous substance has touched or been mixed with the food you wish to eat and again it is no longer safe for those who have celiac to eat. Cross-contamination can happen through something as simple as when condiments are shared or even when a knife is double-dipped while spreading peanut butter and jelly or in a common butter dish. Cross-contamination frequently happens when the same utensil is used for cooking gluten-free food and also used for cooking glutenous foods.

It is important to understand that there are many hidden sources of gluten. It may seem tough to create a gluten-free household but with some planning and organization it can be achieved and remember that we are always here to support you. 

Home Safety is Important – How to Prevent Cross-Contamination

Those with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease must understand the importance of avoiding cross-contamination at home. This is especially critical when there are family members who do not have celiac disease and do not adhere to a gluten-free diet. Experts recommend the following steps to ensure cross-contamination is prevented at home.

  • Use separate cutting boards or wooden spoons for gluten-free foods which and those with gluten. Cutting boards and spoons can harbor residual bacteria and gluten. Plastic and metal utensils are preferred for gluten-free cooking.
  • Have a separate bread maker or a waffle maker. Clearly label the one used for gluten-free products.
  • Have a separate toaster and clearly label it for gluten-free toast only.
  • If parties are being arranged at home, prepare a buffet which is 100% gluten-free. This is the only way to prevent cross-contamination among food items for guests and family members.
  • Condiments should be used with great caution. If available and affordable, the best option is to purchase squeezable condiment containers. However, separate containers and serving spoons for mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup are also serviceable.
  • Different colored stickers (or any type of stickers that make it fun and easy to identify items) can be used so that gluten-free products can be distinguished from others, especially in the pantry and fridge.
  • When buying flours or grain, do not forget to carefully read the labels. Purchase products only from companies that are known to be gluten-free facilities or work with a 100% dedicated gluten-free co-packer, like we do, so that chances of cross-contamination can be reduced.
cooked waffles

Tips When Cooking at Home:

  • Clean all pans, pots and utensils with water and soap thoroughly after every use.
  • Avoid using non-stick pans or have separate pans for gluten-free foods. The non-stick surface can absorb gluten and cause cross-contamination.
  • Clean all surfaces well, especially countertops.
  • Be careful with the scrubbers and the sponge you use for washing dishes. You need to keep all your utensils, pots, pans and utensils separate.

When you are on a gluten-free diet, it takes a concerted effort to prevent cross-contamination. It may seem daunting in the beginning but once your system is in place it will be easy to maintain. If you are looking for more tricks and tips check out our resources and follow our blog. You can also try out some of our delicious gluten-free recipes. You can also shop our gluten-free flours and mixes in our online shop.