Modern Kitchen

Preventing

Cross Contamination

 

What is cross-contamination?

Cross-contamination is considered a process in which food is in contact with a foreign substance that is potentially harmful to an individual's health (1). In the gluten-free diet, exposing gluten-free foods to gluten can occur at any point in the cooking process. If your family does not eat gluten-free, it is important to consider areas of the kitchen that are high risk for contamination. Follow the guidance below to keep your kitchen safe and minimize cross-contamination as much as possible.

Super Health Food

Food storage

Contamination is most likely to occur in areas where a variety of foods are stored (1). Following a plan to organize your kitchen can minimize the risk of accidental gluten exposure.

Store gluten-free foods in a separate cupboard if possible. If a separate location is not available, keep gluten-free foods on shelves above foods containing gluten. This will prevent foods from spilling or leaking on gluten-free products.

Kitchen Sink

Kitchen sink

  • Always check that the sink is clean before filling it with water and soap. The sink may have small pieces of food that should be removed before gluten-free dishes are washed.

  • Wash gluten-free dishes first. Gluten-free dishes should always be washed first to prevent gluten exposure in the sink.

  • Use the appropriate cleaning equipment. There should be a designated gluten-free washcloth and drying towel used only to clean gluten-free dishes. 

  • Designate a gluten-free sponge

Minimalistic Kitchen

Microwave

  • Always cover gluten-free foods in the microwave to reduce the risk of gluten exposure. 

  • Keep the microwave clean by wiping the inside and outside of the appliance (including handles and buttons) regularly.

Dish Washer

Dishwasher

  • Dishwasher filters can hold particles of food if they aren't cleaned. For most properly working dishwashers, this shouldn't be an issue. Make sure your dishwasher is working efficiently. If applicable, regularly use your dishwasher's self-cleaning option. 

  • Check to make sure clean dishes are actually clean when unloading the dishwasher. A small piece of food left on a dish may lead to accidental contamination.

 

Wooden Kitchen Utensils

Kitchen Tools

  • Avoid using wooden kitchen tools that aren't designated gluten-free. This includes salad bowls, tongs, spoons, cutting boards, etc. Wood is porous and can "hold" gluten causing cross-contamination (2).

  • Have a set of gluten-free kitchen tools on hand for preparing celiac-friendly meals. If not properly washed, shared kitchen items can hold small bits of food that will combine with gluten-free foods while cooking. The gluten-free tools should be washed separately using a gluten-free cloth, stored in a separate location from other dishes, and labelled appropriately.

  • Have a gluten-free cutting board used only to prepare gluten-free meals.

Toaster

Toaster

Gluten-free bread cannot be placed in a shared toaster (2). Bits of bread crumbs are often held in the toaster and easily expose gluten-free bread to contamination.

Instead, purchase a separate toaster used only for gluten-free foods. You can also toast your bread on a designated gluten-free pan using a little butter or oil.

Condiments

Condiments

  • It is a good idea to have separate condiments that are designated gluten-free to avoid accidental contamination with utensils that may be used to spread on gluten-containing foods. If a condiment comes in a squirt bottle, it can be safely shared if cautiously used and stored appropriately. 

  • There should be a separate butter dish to be used only for gluten-free foods (2).

Cleaning the Counter

Kitchen counter

  • If possible, designate a separate area of the counter top for preparing only gluten-free foods (2).

  • Check that the counter space being used to prepare foods is free of crumbs or dust of flour. Clean the counter top regularly to keep your kitchen safe and gluten-free.

Restaurant Kitchen

Kitchen equipment

  • Make sure to thoroughly wash equipment such as pots and pans before cooking gluten-free foods (2).

  • Have a separate strainer designated for gluten-free pasta to ensure you are minimizing your risk of contamination.

  • Ensure baking equipment is well scrubbed before use. If possible, consider separate gluten-free baking equipment and use paper muffin liners. 

 

References

1. Bascuñán K, Catalina Vespa M, Araya M. Celiac disease: understanding the gluten-free diet. Eur J Nutr 2017;56:449-459.
2. Canadian Celiac Association. Getting Started on the Gluten-free Diet. https://www.celiac.ca/living-gluten-free/newly-diagnosed/; 2020 [accessed 15.12.2020]