Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Glute-Free Info (Cross-Contamination) Continued
"Celiac" is a serious disease and can cause many other problems with your health. Because of that, a person must eliminate "Gluten" from the foods they eat. Even the smallest amount of gluten is harmful to them. The same holds true for those who are "Gluten Sensitive" too.
So that sounds relatively simple to do. But it is not. Not all foods sold are labeled "Gluten-Free" and so you have to read and understand package labeling. It doesn't stop there either. Whether you are cooking and/or eating at home or at a friends, eating at a restaurant or bringing take-out home, you have to be careful. In these situations, you have to worry about "Cross-Contamination" with gluten.
In this week's series, I will be talking about "Cross-Contamination" and what you need to be aware of both as the one eating and the one doing the cooking.
In the next series in 4 weeks on "GF" I will get into to "Label Reading" and how to approach it.
Let's start by identifying what "Cross-Contamination" is and how it can effect you. I do cover this in my cookbook (More That Your First Cookbook) in the chapter on "Sanitation (Food and Personal)", page 53. In general, cross-contamination can happen when you do two different things without cleaning in between. An example would be cutting chicken on a cutting board with a knife and then cutting up a lettuce salad on the same cutting board using the same knife. Because you didn't clean the board and knife in between uses, the chicken can contaminate the salad with it's bacteria.
The same holds true with gluten. If you, for example, make sandwiches on the counter using wheat bread. Then you make something for the GF person on that same counter without cleaning it. The GF person will most likely pickup gluten in their food. Even this small amount is damaging to them.
Again using the example in the previous paragraph. What makes better sense is to make things for the GF person first. Then make the gluten including food for others. Of course, you want to clean the area before making the GF food too.
But that is only part of the problem. Let's start in the home first. Simple things like buttering your toast, adding jelly or peanut butter to it. That knife that goes into the butter, jelly or peanut butter than spreads onto gluten containing toast. You put the knife back in any of these items and you have contaminated them for a GF person. That little bit can cause a GF person BIG problems.
What about equipment in the kitchen? You use the same toaster, BIG problem. Wooden utensils, wooden cutting boards, colanders, oven racks, toaster ovens are all items to consider. Wood absorbs and therefore shouldn't be used for both gluten and gluten-free items. Colanders used for pasta should probably not be used for gluten-free items. If you cook pizzas directly on the rack in an oven, I wouldn't use the rack for gluten free items. The toaster oven is similar to a toaster. If you have used it for gluten items than don't use it for gluten-free items.
Do you see where this is going? If you are not a "Gluten-Free Household", you have to be very careful. You need to have storage, equipment, etc. for GF items to be safe for those people with a gluten intolerance.
As you are maybe starting to see, it is difficult for everyone involved in a household with a gluten problem. What you need to do is decide if you are to become a "Gluten-Free Household" or a shared one. It is a difficult decision and expensive too. Either way, you than have to determine how you are going to approach it in regards to foods in the house, equipment used with foods, etc. Either way you go, those not effected by gluten will have to adjust as much as those with the intolerance.
Enough for today. Tomorrow I will address eating out at restaurants and other people's homes. I hope this has been helpful to you or that you may be able to pass this information on to someone you know it could help. Thank you for doing that too.