Ask Shelley Case: How to Avoid Cross-Contamination
Answer: In addition to always checking the ingredients in any food you eat, you must also be aware of the possibility of cross-contamination (a process by which a gluten-free product comes into contact with something that is not gluten-free).
Many people, as careful as they are, unwillingly still ingest gluten by cross-contamination, even in their own homes. Here are some pointers and guidelines to help you prevent this avoidable ingestion of gluten:
• Label It: Store all gluten-free products in separate labeled containers. Some families buy bright stickers and put them on everything that is and/or should remain gluten-free. In addition, you may want to keep all gluten-free foods in a separate place in the cupboard and refrigerator. Another tip is to store gluten-free products on the upper shelves of the pantry or cupboards ABOVE the gluten-containing products to prevent flour dust and crumbs from falling onto the packages and containers of gluten-free items.
• No Sharing Allowed: Buy separate containers of items like peanut butter or jam and label “gluten-free” to prevent them from becoming cross-contaminated by other family members preparing gluten-containing products (e.g. toast, sandwiches).
• Give it a Squeeze: Buy squeeze bottles of condiments such as ketchup, mustard, relish and mayonnaise. This prevents any crumbs from getting in the containers.
• No Double Dipping: Avoid other’s crumbs! Have a separate butter or margarine container designated for gluten-free users only.
• Even a Little Gluten and You’re Toast: Have your own toaster. If not, use a toaster oven, where the rack can be removed and washed if others have used it. Another option is to buy special toaster bags for gluten-free bread that can be placed in a regular toaster. These bags can be washed and re-used. Available from www.celinalfoods.com, www.elpeto.com, or www.glutenfree.com.
• Space it Out: Always make sure that the counter space you are using to prepare gluten-free foods is freshly washed to ensure it is free from crumbs or flour dust.
• Scrub, Scrub, Scrub: Make sure pots, utensils, etc., that are also used for other foods are thoroughly scrubbed before using with gluten-free foods.
• Pasta Concerns: Do not boil gluten-free pasta in the same water that previously had gluten-containing pasta. Also use a separate colander to drain gluten-free pasta, as it is difficult to remove traces of pasta from the colander.
•You-Tensils: Have your own set of utensils and other items for gluten-free baking and cooking (e.g., wooden spoons, cutting boards, sifter.)
Ask Shelley Case is a feature of BeFreeForMe.com. It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case is a Registered Dietitian, Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. Visit Shelley and get more gluten-free tips & info at: www.glutenfreediet.ca