What is Cross-Contamination?

Overview

The danger of cross-contamination is what separates Celiac Disease from a gluten intolerance. For most with a gluten-intolerance, as long as they do not directly consume gluten, they do not cause damage to themselves. For Celiacs, even a minuscule amount of gluten is enough to cause severe symptoms to arise. Cross-contamination is defined as “the process by which bacteria or other microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one substance or object to another, with harmful effect.” In this case, the microorganism is gluten, and this process takes place during food preparation.

Prevention

  • Celiacs should have their own toaster. Sharing a toaster oven is okay as long as the rack is cleaned throughly or Celiacs place their food on foil or a tray instead of putting it directly on the rack
  • Celiacs should have their own condiment jars, or all condiments should be in squeezable containers. Double dipping is a major culprit in cross-contamination
  • If there is flour in the household, it should be stored in sealed bags in a separate place from Celiac safe foods.
  • Gluten-free baking should be done before any regular baking. Flour can sometimes linger in the air and could settle on gluten-free products
  • Wash your hands after touching anything that contains gluten, especially if you are about to eat
  • Celiacs should have separate wooden and plastic cooking utensils (or anything made of porous material)
  • If a Celiac is sharing pots and pans with a non-Celiac, they should be thoroughly washed before cooking anything gluten free in them
  • Gluten free pasta and regular pasta cannot share the same water, or it will contaminate the gluten-free pasta
  • Gluten-free items in a fryer will become contaminated if they are in the same fryer with something that contains gluten

For more ways to prevent cross-contamination, please visit the Canadian Celiac Association or The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.