IN THE KITCHEN:
Use a separate toaster oven, toaster, bread machine, and colander or strainer.
- You can use aluminum foil in a shared toaster oven if you don't always have the time to clean the rack before every use.
- It is also difficult to remove traces of pasta from colanders, so having a designated gluten-free colander will help to avoid cross-contamination.
- Use special toaster bags for your gluten-free bread. These toaster bags can be washed and re-used and are great to use when traveling, too. 1
There is no need to buy your own pots, pans, plates and utensils if they are washed well and often (dishwasher is suggested).
- Simply washing with soap and water can remove traces of gluten from plates and kitchenware. Be sure that anyone else using these items understands the need to thoroughly clean items that come in contact with gluten-containing foods or ingredients.
If you need to sift or measure gluten-containing flour, clean the food preparation, cooking and eating surfaces very well afterwards (or ask someone else to do it!). Breathe in as little gluten as possible since airborne exposure can also damage the lining of the small intestine. Consider wearing a face mask if you are sensitive. Owning two flour sifters, one for gluten-containing flour and another for gluten-free flour, will minimize cross-contamination risk.
A completely gluten-free kitchen is desirable but not often practical if others in the home do not require the gluten-free diet. Just focus on keeping the kitchen clean!
IN FOOD STORES:
- Purchase flours, grains, and other products* that are labeled "gluten-free" by the manufacturer.
- Avoid grain foods that are not specifically labeled gluten-free. Avoid vague labeling on these products such as "made with gluten-free ingredients" or "no gluten ingredients used." This is a red flag that the manufacturer does not test for gluten contamination.2
- Avoid purchasing grains, flours, seeds, nuts, etc from bulk bins. There is a high risk of cross-contamination from shared scoops in open or adjacent bins. 3
- Avoid purchasing grains, flours, seeds, nuts, etc that have been purchased by a store and repackaged in their own packaging and labeling. This method can expose you to cross-contamination with other gluten-containing grains.3
* Depending on the product, it is not always necessary to choose a gluten-free label. Example: the product is naturally gluten-free and has no likely contact with cross-contamination during its growth, processing/manufacturing, or transportation, such as a can of olives.
For detailed information on this important topic, please visit Dining Out
GLUTEN-FREE GRAINS: LOOK AGAIN!
Results from a 2011 study indicate that a certain percentage of naturally gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours are NOT actually gluten-free. The results further suggest that consumers cannot rely on the voluntary allergen advisory statements for wheat to guide them in determining which products are more likely to be contaminated. 4
Two celiac research dietitians sampled 22 naturally gluten-free grains, seeds and flours NOT labeled gluten-free to test for the amount of gluten. One-third of the tested products contained a voluntary allergen advisory statement on their labels. Nine of the products (41%) contained higher than the limit of quantification for gluten (with this test, it is 5ppm), with results ranging from 8.5ppm to 2,925ppm. 4
The sample size was too small to determine which specific grains, seeds, and flours are more or less likely to be contaminated. 4
Bottom line: Purchase only those gluten-free grains and flours that are labeled gluten-free. These products will likely be more expensive because manufacturers must take extra steps to ensure their products are not cross-contaminated.2
For more information on the study details, more important tips, questions to ask manufacturers, and cross-contamination as it relates to gluten-free grains, visit Grains: Safety vs. Contamination or http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/contamination-of-naturally-gluten-free-grains-part-2/
TAKE HOME MESSAGES:
- Airborne exposure to gluten can damage the lining of the small intestine. So, minimize your contact with wheat or gluten-based flours in the air, such as when people are baking.
- Whenever possible, use separate food preparation tools that are likely to be contaminated, such as wooden utensils, colanders/strainers, sifters, and cutting boards. Color-coding them is a helpful technique. If you have only one pasta strainer, for example, strain the gluten-free pasta before the wheat-based pasta, and wash it very well before and after (dishwasher preferred). 3
- Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition, Shelley Case. Case Nutrition Consulting, Inc., December 2010.
- Thompson, Tricia. Contamination of Naturally Gluten-Free Grains: Part 2. 2011.http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/contamination-of-naturally-gluten-free-grains-part-2/ . Accessed Nov 30, 2011.
- Dennis M, Kupper C, Lee AR, Sharrett MK, Thompson T. Celiac Disease Toolkit. American Dietetic Association. Chicago, IL, 2011.
- Thompson T, Lee A. Gluten contamination of grains, seeds, and flours in the United States: a pilot study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110:937-940.
Revision Date: 10-31-12
Author: Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN
Editors: Shelly Asplin, MS, RD, LMNT and Rupa Mukherjee, MD