For some people dealing with cross contamination is the hardest part of the celiac diet to manage. I agree that Gluten cross contamination, also known as cross contact, definitely adds complications to the celiac diet. For me, it’s what makes traveling, eating out and the holidays so difficult to manage.
→ Technically, the correct term is gluten cross contact, but according to Google most people call it cross contamination.
For this reason, I will use the two terms interchangeably.
What Is Gluten Cross Contamination?
• Gluten contamination, or cross contact happens when a gluten free food comes in contact with foods that contain gluten.
• Often gluten contamination is unintentional or accidental.
• It can be very harmful to those with celiac disease and make gluten free foods unsafe to eat.
Where Does Gluten Contamination Happen?
Gluten cross contamination can happen anywhere, but restaurants are a common place for it to occur.
Here are some examples where gluten contamination is a problem for people with celiac disease.
- Condiment jars due to double dipping
- Cutting Boards
- Bulk Bins
Why Gluten Cross Contact Is So Hard
→ Individuals who comply with the celiac diet know how difficult cross contamination makes meal planning and preparation.
→ Cross contamination is why my non celiac gluten free friends can order the menu items marked gluten free in a diner I could never eat at.
→ Gluten cross contamination is why I won’t eat the gluten free foods my generous friends try to make for me. No matter how much I teach them about food preparation for a celiac, the risk their food will accidentally get me sick is too high.
→ Cross contact is the main reason eating out is so risky.
Should I Worry About Cross Contamination
Some people don’t worry too much about eating out. In fact, there are celiacs who don’t have any symptoms (asymptomatic) when they consume gluten. For asymptomatic celiacs it can be more challenging to really care about cross contact. It can be tempting to order anything on a menu marked gluten free. After all, if it doesn’t make you sick it’s probably fine right?
For other celiacs, getting “glutened” happens every so often, it is just a normal part of life and it’s worth the convenience and risk of eating out.
Other celiacs strictly avoid gluten, only eat at dedicated gluten free restaurants and can go years or decades without getting “glutened.”
You get to decide what kind of celiac you are.
I’m here to tell you the best practices for avoiding gluten so that you can make an informed decision.
The important thing is to stay informed and stay honest!
I’d love to boss everyone around and tell you all to never eat gluten again! Instead I will tell you the dangers of continuing to eat gluten as a celiac, but only you can decide what is right for you.
When writing I try to mention that there are celiacs that don’t comply with the diet, not to shame them, but because if you are one of them it’s important to know you’re not alone.
⇒ I have other food limitations and I live entirely gluten free.
⇒ I know the celiac diet can impact relationships with friends and family.
⇒ Make your decision, live it without shame and revisit your decision in six months or a year.
Even if you aren’t compliant with the diet right now, stay connected with the community and keep yourself informed on celiac disease. You deserve it!