Reactions to gluten consumption are often hard to detect, and are NOT recognized by professionals as a valid measure. Regular consumption of small amounts of gluten can lead to serious medical conditions, without any warning. Therefore, it is very important to adopt habits and safeguards in your home to prevent cross contamination from occurring.
Obviously, the safest method is to turn your home into an entirely gluten free zone, but this can be very difficult for many families. We have compiled a list of tricks and tips for people who are trying to ensure they live 100% gluten free in households where gluten is present.
Once someone has been diagnosed in your household, it is extremely important to go through every single food item in your house and determine which ones are safe to eat. Go through your pantry, fridge and freezer and check the status of each item on myProduct List. Then separate safe and unsafe items.
Proper Cleaning Procedures
If there is gluten in your kitchen, it is imperative that you properly wash your hands and all kitchen surfaces (counter tops, grills, utensils, appliances, pans and cutting boards) immediately prior to cooking gluten free food.
The Gluten Free Cupboard
Designate a space for gluten free products, separate from all other food items. Make sure to wash this area very carefully. This will not only help avoid gluten contamination, but also make it easy for everyone to understand what foods are safe and unsafe for you to consume.
It is also important to remember that this area should be large enough to store extra stock. Often gluten free items need to be special ordered or can only be purchased at specialty shops and you will save a lot of time if you stock up on these items rather than buying them on a weekly basis. If you have room, it may be worthwhile to have a pantry built or a cupboard added in the basement to house extra gluten free food.
Small Appliances and Cooking Utensils
For the most part appliances and utensils can be shared, as long as they are washed well between cooking gluten and non-gluten items. There are a few however, where cross contamination is difficult to avoid, and thus separate ones should be purchased and used solely for gluten free items.
Toasters: It is hardly feasible to properly clean out all crumbs from a toaster. A separate toaster should be used only for gluten free breads, no exception.
Colander/ Strainers: A separate colander should be used for gluten free pasta and when rinsing fruits and vegetables. You should ensure that the gluten free one is a different color or clearly labeled so that it is never misused.
Bread Makers: As it is so difficult to ensure that there is no flour residue left in a bread maker, you should be designated for gluten free use only.
Food Processors/Electric Mixers: For the same reasons as the bread makers, if you use your food processor to make items containing flour, you should be specifically dedicated for gluten free items. It is important to remember to use the gluten free food processor, not only when mixing gluten free breads and cakes, but also when chopping vegetables or mixing soups and sauces.
This category includes items such as peanut butter, jams/jellies, butter, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, cream cheese, etc. There are a number of ways to prevent cross contamination when dealing with such items.
One Dip Rule: knives and spoons can only be dipped into containers once if they are going to be used on gluten containing food items. This can be difficult to ensure however, especially with visitors and children.
The safest way to prevent cross contamination is to have duplicates of all of these items, clearly marking the gluten free items.
Use as many squeeze bottles as possible, as it avoids knives and spoons being placed into the jars and thus decreases the chance of cross contamination.
Don’t be Shy
Explain the kitchen and food rules to all visitors, even if you do not expect them to be helping out in the kitchen. This is especially important for visitors spending the night, an early rising visitor can contaminate the kitchen without anyone even realizing.
Think Outside the Box
Every household is different, and thus it is important to take the time and sit down with family members and review common practices and routines. Seemingly harmless actions can place gluten intolerant and celiac individuals at great risk. Here are some common place examples;
Middle of the night snackers beware! Make sure that no one is in the habit of drinking directly from juice or milk containers, especially after eating gluten containing treats.
Play-doh is a wheat based substance and should only be used under strict supervision. Wash hands carefully with a nail brush after using. Gluten free varieties can be purchased or made at home.