11 top tips to avoid cross-contamination
When you’re coeliac it can be infuriating to realise you’ve got ill because you were cross-contaminated.
Let's face it, if I knew I'd have to suffer the effects of eating gluten then at least I'd enjoy myself first, like sinking my teeth into a sugary donut or biting into a crusty pizza slice. I wouldn’t say “never mind” after someone shoved their crumby knife into the butter and then onto my bread. (And don’t forget, it only takes one fiftieth of a slice of bread to set off symptoms.)
So here are my top ten tips on how to avoid cross-contamination…
1. Get a different colour chopping board for gluten-free bread. I got a bright pink one (quite hard to miss).
2. Use different cooking trays. Even if you think you can guarantee the dishwasher will blast away all traces of gluten, it means you don’t have to worry.
3. Don’t use the same cooking tray with food spaced apart. When you pull a tray out of the oven it naturally tips slightly and the last thing you need is to have your gluten-free chicken kiev slide into a gluten-filled one.
4. Have a separate cupboard for gluten-free food. This is especially important if your family keeps food that can easily ‘travel’ like crumbs from bread and clouds of flour.
5. Put a magnet lock on your cupboard if you think someone might be tempted to raid it with crumb-y fingers.
6. Keep your gluten-free toaster out of bounds. Once used, put it up on a high shelf so no-one uses it accidentally.
7. Prepare gluten-free packed lunches before ‘normal’ ones. This avoids the possibility of a knife being dipped into something and then used on your gluten-free bread after everyone else’s bread.
8. Get squeezy products where possible to avoid knives being dipped into condiments and crumbs being spread. Examples include mayonnaise, honey & ketchup.
9. Don’t buy gluten-free flour in the supermarket if it’s next to normal flour. I thought this practice was obsolete until recently when I saw a major chain doing it. Think about what happens when a bag of flour is gently squeezed and how far the flour travels. If a bag containing gluten’s next to it, it’s not worth the risk.
10. Buy sealed wrapped food in cafes (like the inevitable gluten-free brownie in coffee shops). Those shops that sell food sitting next to normal food and use the same tongs? Not worth it.
11. Order a naturally gluten-free meal in a restaurant. Too many times I’ve been given a plate where stuffing’s been hastily removed or a jug of gravy that’s got traces of wheat flour from the stock cube. I’d really rather be well and have a boring option (like dry meat) than risk illness.
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. If you’ve got tips to add then please share them!