Cross Contamination Prevention in Celiac Disease

Children living with celiac disease must avoid eating anything containing gluten. This can be challenging in a household where not everyone has celiac disease or reacts negatively to gluten.

To help families adjust, Clinical Dietitian Janel Steinhoff, RDN, LDN, with the Center for Celiac Disease of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), details a few ways you can make it safer for your child with celiac disease to eat at home, including:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing, serving or eating food.
  • Consider purchasing two of certain shared food items – like peanut butter –and dedicating one (labeled "GF") for family members who must eat gluten-free.
  • Prepare gluten-free foods first to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Use utensils and tools made of glass, stainless steel or hard plastic instead of wood. Difficult-to-clean products like toaster ovens should be avoided by people with celiac disease unless two separate appliances can be maintained and one is clearly labeled as "gluten-free only".
  • Clean surfaces and prep items before using them.


Cross Contamination Prevention in Celiac Disease

Janel Steinhoff, RDN, LDN: Cross contamination avoidance is an important part of following a gluten-free diet for people with celiac disease. Cross-contamination happens when gluten containing crumbs are transferred from one surface to another. This can commonly happen in your kitchen. Avoiding cross-contamination helps those with celiac disease stay healthy and symptom free.

In this video we are going to discuss our top five tips to prevent gluten cross-contamination in your kitchen.

Wash your hands. Washing your hands before eating and after handling gluten-containing products is a good habit to get into. Use of soap and water instead of hand sanitizer is best.

Keep gluten containing and gluten-free products separated. You can designate a separate drawer or cabinet in the kitchen to store gluten-free products such as bread, crackers and snacks. Shared condiments such as butter, peanut butter and mayonnaise, can also accumulate gluten crumbs.

Dedicated gluten-free condiments are recommended to prevent cross-contamination. Shared squeeze bottles can also be used. Prepare gluten-free first. If you are making a gluten-free in a gluten containing recipe in the kitchen, always make the gluten-free first.

Utensils and appliances. Porous utensils can harbor gluten particles; therefore, wooden mixing spoons and cutting board should be replaced with hard plastic utensils and either plastic or glass cutting boards.

Difficult to clean appliances, such as toasters and waffle irons, should not be used for both gluten containing and gluten-free food prep. A designated gluten-free toaster is recommended. Use of toaster bags and aluminum foil should be used for shared appliances.

Clean surfaces and prep items. Keeping the kitchen table, countertops and sink clean and sanitized is a good way to prevent crumbs from accumulating. Shared prep items such as stainless steel pots, pans, utensils and glasses, should be thoroughly washed with hot soapy water.

Following these simple steps to avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen, will help your child with celiac disease stay safe and healthy. The staff at the Center for Celiac Disease at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is also here to guide you through any other questions you may have about cross-contamination.

Related Centers and Programs: Center for Celiac Disease, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition