Chen Ben Asher – Functional Nutrition – Silicon Valley – What is Gluten Cross Contamination vs. Hidden Gluten?

For some people, it might be highly important to avoid gluten for all costs, for example, when being allergic to it and various other reasons. It is not so easy to be done as there are different hidden dangers even with foods labeled as gluten-free. Hidden gluten products are in the market, and many of them might look harmless. Also, food cross contamination can ruin the different grains and other foods.

Cross contamination

Cross contamination in simple terms is when gluten comes into with any gluten free food thus contaminating it. This problem might occur when food is harvested (e.g., growing gluten-free grains and using the same land for something that is not gluten-free), manufactured, packed and prepared for eating. According to the Canadian Celiac Association, anywhere you see crumbs can be “a potential place for cross-contamination.”[1]

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Avoid cross contamination at home

  • A person who is eating only gluten-free should have his butter dish, cutting board, toaster, etc. used only for gluten-free food. Another alternative is to wash the place, for example, an oven.
  • First, it is needed to do gluten-free baking because regular flours can settle and contaminate.
  • One needs to wash hands before touching any gluten-free products.
  • Stay alert on any guests helping in the kitchen because not everyone will have such a good gluten awareness and can make an error.
  • Pots, utensils, and other kitchen things need to be thoroughly washed and scrubbed before the use.1


Avoid cross contamination away from home

  • Be careful of bulk bins as people use scoops in many bins.
  • Be careful when choosing meat. Gluten-free meats that are cut on the counter can become contaminated by using the same utensils without cleaning them, or some meats might overlap others.
  • Take caution in buffet lunches somebody might be measuring temperature with one thermometer.
  • Food (fries, meat, etc.) cooked in oil where battled foods were, or the place might be not cleaned properly. This means that there is a high risk that gluten-free food is contaminated and should be avoided.
  • Gluten-free pasta might be cooked in the same water as the regular one. It is safer to ask before buying.
  • Don’t buy gluten-free grains if you are not sure that the producer hasn’t milled them on equipment used for regular grains. There are companies that follow strict standards and wouldn’t allow that to happen.1


Hidden gluten

The biggest difference is that hidden gluten can be found on the label. Hidden gluten is found in items that people usually don’t consider to be grains.


Foods and items that can contain hidden gluten

  • Soups
  • Chocolate
  • Dressings
  • Lunch meat
  • Stamps
  • Lotions
  • Toothpastes
  • Playdough
  • Hairspray, shampoo
  • Detergents
  • Envelopes
  • Makeup, etc.[2]

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Cross contamination and hidden gluten are not always that easy to see. Although hidden gluten is labeled on products, you need to know what to look for like MSG, modified food starch, maltodextrin, etc. Specialists might help to find the right food solutions and help to avoid problems with gluten.



[1] Cross-Contamination. Accessed from: http://www.celiac.ca/?page_id=679rel=”nofollow”

[2] Hidden Gluten & Cross Contamination. Accessed from: https://www.glutenfreesociety.org/wp-content/uploads/Gluten-Cross-Contamination.pdfrel=”nofollow”

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