Cross-contamination. You might not have thought about it too hard. If you have coeliac/ celiac disease or an allergy or sensitivity to certain foods; cross-contamination is a serious concern. For your health alone it’s REALLY important to Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen.
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – Why Bother?
If you haven’t really thought about cross-contamination in your kitchen before or are still getting ill despite cutting out the food(s) you know you have issues with then you really need to understand how much of an impact cross-contamination can have.
To give you some context of how little gluten could make you sick if you have medical issues, in the EU, in order to be labelled ‘gluten-free’ an item must contain less than 20 ppm gluten. That is, less than 20 parts per million. So if you think about this – that is less than one grain of rice in one million grains of rice. One grain of rice weights about 0.03 grams. One million grains of rice weigh around three kilograms (over 6.5 lb). That means anything more than one grain of rice in a 3 kilogram bag could make you ill. That translates to breadcrumbs left on a work surface… One breadcrumb from a work surface or left in a tub of vegan margarine could very easily make someone with coeliac/ celiac disease or gluten sensitivity sick.
Cross-contamination is easy to do: spreading margarine contaminated with ‘normal’ breadcrumbs on your gluten-free toast; using the same toaster for gluten-free and ‘normal’ bread; stirring a gluten-free vegan dish with a spoon that has been stirring a dairy and wheat flour sauce. Even small amounts of gluten can affect those with an allergy, intolerance or immune response to gluten, dairy or eggs badly.
So, if you have cut the offending food from your diet and have not been conscious of cross-contamination issues and have unexplained illness which you think is related to food you are eating – take a look at potential cross contamination in your kitchen and home.
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination If You’re Gluten-Free and Vegan
It isn’t always possible to live in a gluten-free, vegan home. If you are gluten-free for medical reasons but the rest of your family isn’t or you live in shared accommodation maintaining a gluten-free, vegan diet can be challenging. If you live in a home which isn’t gluten-free and vegan the simple points below will help prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen.
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – Utensils, Knives and Cooking Equipment
Use separate utensils, knives and pans to prepare gluten-free, vegan food. I mean everything. Knives, chopping/ cutting boards, wooden spoons, pans, baking tins, serving spoons. This way you can be certain you have minimised the risk of cross-contamination.
Anything wooden is difficult to clean well enough to not cause cross-contamination so it is super important that you are careful about the use of wooden items and cross-contamination. It is best to use separate chopping/ cutting boards.
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – Food Items
Whether you are storing food items in a cupboard, fridge or freezer, if possible, you should keep your ‘safe’ gluten-free, vegan food stored safely and separately. If you can use a cupboard which is just for gluten-free, vegan food, a freezer draw that would be ideal. But, that’s not always possible.
All is not lost if you don’t have the space for separate storage. What I do is store my food in sealable bags or boxes and store them carefully on or in specific gluten-free, vegan shelves or drawers.
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – Storage
The wise words above on food storage also applies to preparation and cooking items.
Keep your (labelled) gluten-free, vegan cooking utensils, chopping/ cutting boards, pots and pans (and more!) in separate drawers, cupboards or spaces (if you have the space). If you don’t have the space have sealable bags or boxes you can store them in on ‘your’ shelves or drawers.
Top-tip. Label your gluten-free, vegan preparation and cooking items.
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – Hygiene
Great hygiene will take you a long way. I’m talking keeping everything super tidy and wash everything well (hands as well as preparation and cooking items) and cleaning surfaces before cooking and eating.
A dishwasher is your friend. It will clean crockery and cutlery super-well. Wooden products are harder to clean and keep cross-contamination free. Plus wooden items don’t go respond well to going in the dishwasher.
We also need to talk about keeping gluten containing items out of your food. Gluten-ey, breadcrumb filled knives dipped in your gluten-free, margarine isn’t going to work!!! Keep your own food out of reach of those with gluten-filled knives and fingers!
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – Other Considerations
There are a few other cross-contamination avenues you might want to peruse. Not directly related to your kitchen but still pertinent. If you have an issue with an allergy, intolerance or immune response of any kind it is well worth exploring how else that allergy or sensitivity might affect you or wheedle their way into your life.
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – The Rest Of The House
We’re talking about the kitchen here but it’s not all about your kitchen, it’s about your bathroom and bedroom to. In fact it’s about your whole home.
I’m assuming that you are using vegan products throughout your home (hair, face, body, cleaning products, etc.) but haven’t necessarily thought about gluten in products.
If you have serious allergies medicine can be a challenge and this should be discussed with your GP. However, we often take supplements such as vitamins or minerals e.g. vitamin D. This is another are to be cautious about. Not just gluten-free but vegan supplements can be challenging to find. The internet is a great source and I explore supplements in a couple of blog posts.
Five Ways To Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin D In Your Diet
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet
How To Make Sure You Get Enough Calcium In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet
There is conflicting advice about the use of gluten containing products such as shampoo, conditioner, make-up etc. Some medics say it has no effect (you are not ingesting it – well you’re not ingesting very much!) others say it does have an effect. I would suggest if you notice an effect on your skin or any other part of your body from using products that contain gluten, seek out gluten-free products instead.
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – Eating Out
Now that you are all over cross-contamination issues you might be thinking all about how else cross-contamination might occur. Restaurants and take-away food are two big areas of concern for those with allergies or sensitivities. There are many, many well recorded incidents of people being served contaminated food to their detriment. I cannot tell you how and where to be but I can advise you to ask questions. Including
- Is gluten-free food prepared and stored separately in your kitchen?
- Is gluten-free food cooked separately in your kitchen (e.g. fryers and pans)?
And, after asking questions you don’t feel comfortable then walk away. If have allergies, intolerance or immune responses it’s not worth the risk.
There are a few restaurants that are a few totally gluten-free such as Niche Restaurant in Islington, London and Leggero in Soho, London. Both are totally gluten-free but not vegan. They do serve pretty good vegan food but if you have allergies you may want to check out the menu. As restaurants with clear, allergy-friendly menu I would consider they are aware of cross-contamination issues. But, that is not always a given!
How To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – Off The Shelf Products
Many ready-made or off the shelf free-from products (that do not contain gluten, dairy or eggs) carry a warning of cross-contamination. This is usually because the products are made in the same facility as products containing gluten, eggs, milk and other allergens. The risk is low however, this labelling enables you to make a decision regarding your own health and any potential reaction to such products.
Although not strictly cross contamination, gluten, diary and eggs are ingredients in many, many off the shelf products. Read the ingredients of every product. This sounds obvious but you will be surprised by the amount of ‘filler’ that is not gluten-free or vegan used in the most simple, pre-prepared food. For example, wheat flour is often used as a thickener or filler in many prepared sauces, lots of brands of flavoured crisps (chips) contain gluten and milk and most gluten-free bread contains egg.
Products also change their ingredients (surprisingly frequently). Don’t assume that the product you buy every week has the same ingredients from one week to the next.
And, If After All That You Are Still Getting Sick
If you’re concerned that despite your best efforts you are still getting sick and you think it is something you’re eating try keeping a food diary. (NOTE: If your reactions appear to be allergic reactions and include any swelling or tingling you should seek medical help).
If you are getting sick and it isn’t an allergic reaction, log everything you eat and drink for several weeks – you need to do it for an extended period of time for it to be representative of your intake. You can then take your food diary with you to discuss with your GP. Keeping a food diary for a few weeks will give you a solid foundation for discussions with medical professionals.
I have a FREE Food Diary you can download. Just click the button below to sign-up and download.
What Are Your Top Tips To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen?
There are bound to be other tips and hacks to To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen – this is my tiny, tiny selection of ideas.
What are your Top Tips To Prevent Cross-Contamination In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen? Drop a comment below or ping me on social media! 🙂