What is cross-contamination? Does a small amount of gluten make a difference? How can I avoid getting sick? How do I explain this concept to others?
To be honest, cross-contamination is tough. Even we still struggle with explaining it, dealing with it, and preventing it. We are not perfect and definitely make mistakes but the more informed we get, the better we are in cross-contamination situations. This section will hopefully answer all the questions you have about the tricky topic!
What Is Cross-Contamination?
Cross-contamination is a big issue for anyone with Celiac Disease, especially those first starting. It is when food touches equipment, other food, or materials that also touched gluten, creating a possible threat to sensitive people. Each person is different, so you must determine for your self how sensitive your immune system is and how careful you want to be. We take every precaution because when in doubt, go without!
Spotting Cross-Contamination In a Product
Cross-contamination can appear in various different ways. At a restaurant, it may look like:
sharing knives or equipment with the GF product
frying foods in the same fryer
putting bread on the same plate as your GF meal
Making something "gluten free" by taking bread (etc.) off of it.
Cross-contamination on a label can say:
"processed in the same facility"
nothing about gluten on the label.
Again, you must be careful about the risks you take and it is up to you whether you speak up.
Cross-Contamination At Home
Cross-contamination can happen anywhere, even in your house! Here are some tips to preventing it. Just remember: the best strategy is always to be aware!
Clean out toaster, pans, etc. to get rid of any gluten crumbs before using it for gluten free.
It is easier to use and label separate butters, jams, peanut butters, and more for the gluten free kid. This way, everyone can double dip their knives while spreading without having to worry about cross-contamination.
Wash your hands before preparing gluten free foods.
Cross-Contamination In Public
Wherever you go, gluten foods are going to be part of your life. Therefore, you will have to determine what is cross-contamination, what you can tolerate, and what you are comfortable with. Here are some tips that will make it easier to process what is going on in public places.
Celiac disease is not airborne.
As long as you are comfortable, and make sure to be careful, you can sit next to people with gluten foods. For example, in the cafeteria you can eat with your regular friends.
Most restaurants and public places contain gluten, however, if you are careful, you should be able to eat there.
Keep your food away form other food, crumbs, utensils, and things associated with gluten.