People who have Coeliac disease have different thresholds of how much gluten they can take before experiencing symptoms. However, even if they don’t have any symptoms, as little as 50mg gluten (equivalent to 1/100th of a slice of standard wheat bread) can cause damage to their small intestine. This risk of damage means that it is essential that people with Coeliac Disease don’t come in contact with gluten from any source and in addition to excluding gluten from the diet they need to avoid cross contamination with foods containing gluten.
Tips to reduce the risk of cross-contamination at home:
- Store gluten free products and ingredients in separate sealed containers, and clearly label all foods in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer
- Keep the gluten-free foods above the gluten-containing items in the pantry and fridge, so gluten particles don’t fall or settle into gluten-free foods.
- Have separate jars of jam/nut butter/ condiment jars to reduce gluten crumbs and contaminated spoons getting dipped into your mustard or peanut butter.
- Purchase a second toaster, to be used exclusively for gluten-free toast. If this is not possible then ensure the toaster (and other appliances such as sandwich makers and grills) are cleaned thoroughly before preparing gluten free foods.
- Thoroughly clean bread boards, knives, pots and pans and other cooking utensils used in food preparation. It might be necessary to have a separate bread board.
- Use clean, fresh water in a clean saucepan for cooking or re-heating gluten free pasta and use a separate strainer for gluten free pasta or strain it first.
- Do not dust meats or fish with regular flour prior to cooking and don’t dust cake tins with gluten containing flour (including wheaten cornflour which has wheat!) and be aware that icing sugar may contain wheat.
- Clean oil should be used when deep frying and always cook gluten-free foods before gluten containing foods.
- If hosting a party or dinner at home make the whole thing gluten-free to make it easier and to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
- Remember to wash your hands frequently if using gluten products.
- it may be worth hahving a sperate sponge for the gluten free products and always wash the gluten free dishes etc first.
Some sites recommend avoiding using wooden spoons or cutting boards that also are used to prepare gluten-containing foods as they can harbor residual gluten and bacteria, however if washed thoroughly the risk is very small of any measurable gluten remaining on the spoon. One estimate is that after washing you would have around 3ppm gluten which is well below the 20ppm definition of gluten-free in the US FDA regulations.
In supermarkets, healthfood shops and food co-ops, don’t buy unpackaged foods stored in bins. The bins and the scoops may have been previously used for gluten-containing foods and may not have been sufficiently cleaned.