Avoiding Gluten Cross-Contamination in your kitchen. (For the original article, please click here.)
This is NOT my kitchen (honest)! Aside from being messy, this kitchen is a recipe for gluten cross-contamination.
As I've mentioned previously cross-contamination is a risk for all gluteys (and anyone with a food allergy). Cross-contamination occurs when a food that is naturally allergy-free comes into contact with the allergen through food handling, preparation or storage.
Especially if you're new to gluten-free, making your kitchen safe can seem like a daunting task. It's up to you how far you want to go with de-glutening your kitchen, but there are two basic options, that will meet most people's needs.
If you have allergies (other than gluten), the same cross-contamination process will also work for you.
There are two methods to avoiding cross-contamination in your kitchen. Choose the method that works best for you and your family:
1. Total elimination - removing every source of gluten from your house.
2. Careful separation - carefully separating gluten and gluten-free items so that there's less risk of contamination.
This is the safest option, but also the hardest to maintain and can initially be quite costly. If you can manage this in your household, go for gold! Here's how:
- Check EVERYTHING in your kitchen, and if it contains gluten, throw it away. Some examples of food stuffs that can contain gluten that are easily forgotten include: herbs and spices, sandwich spreads, sauces, and packet mixes. Remember to check the fridge and the freezer.
- Throw out all spreads - they'll have crumbs in them! e.g. peanut butter, margarines.
- Clean everything to ensure no crumbs are left behind.
- If you're taking any medication (including supplements), check that they're gluten-free (a pharmacist will be able to check for you).
- Chuck out any non-metal or ceramic kitchen equipment e.g. plastic bowls, containers, wooden or plastic chopping boards, wooden mixing spoons, plastic tongs (it's very hard to make these items 100% gluten-free once they've been contaminated).
- Replace your toaster - you'll never be able to get all the crumbs out of it! Get yourself some toaster bags if you intend on using a toaster outside of the home e.g. at work, on holiday.
- Check non-food items for gluten and replace with gluten-free versions e.g. pet biscuits, cosmetics.
- Maintain your gluten-free house by ensuring no gluten sneaks in. This can be tricky when you have visitors, let them know in advance what not to bring into your home.
This option allows for family members who don't need to be allergy-free to still enjoy their noms. It requires more ongoing effort, but usually works well if the whole family (and visitors) are careful.
- Purchase separate kitchen equipment for gluten-free use, and label it. You might also like to store your kitchen equipment in a separate location to the gluteny equipment so there's less risk of it being used accidentally. e.g. chopping board, plastic bowls, plastic containers, plastic tongs, wooden mixing spoons
- Purchase a gluten-free dish brush to use on gluten-free kitchen equipment. Label the brush and store it in a separate place to the regular dish brush.
- Store gluten-free food stuffs on a separate shelf in the pantry, making sure that gluteny items can't accidentally be spilt onto the shelf.
- Store all flours, baking mixes and spices in sealed containers, and label the containers so you can easily see what's gluten-free.
- Buy a separate toaster and label it clearly. If you don't want to buy a separate toaster, or you want to be able to toast at work - you can purchase toaster bags that will protect your bread from crumbs (purchased through the Coeliac Society).
- Check your cosmetics for gluten - some people react to gluten in non-food items.
- Educate the whole family (and any visitors) about cross-contamination, so everyone knows how to keep gluten away from gluten-free foods, surfaces and equipment.
- Purchase (and label) separate gluten-free spreads e.g. peanut butter, margarine.