The gluten free diet has become very popular for many people. Trendy products in supermarkets, and gluten free menu items can now be found everywhere. Anyone who wants to follow a gluten free lifestyle now has the ability to find more than enough choices. But for people who must follow a gluten free regime for life because of a medical condition, gluten avoidance goes beyond merely choosing foods known to be gluten free. One needs to be extra vigilant about avoiding all sources of gluten. Unfortunately, gluten may be lurking in places that one would never imagine. Even meticulous attention to the finer details of gluten avoidance may not prevent incidental exposure to gluten from other places.
Here’s my list of hidden gluten sources which can cross contaminate safe and otherwise gluten free foods:
1. The toaster: If your toaster was previously used for toasting wheat products, this is a source of gluten contamination. It is impossible to clean out the inside of a toaster adequately. Purchase a separate toaster that is used solely for the purpose of toasting gluten free breads or muffins. Alternatively, if you have a toaster oven with a removable tray that can be thoroughly cleaned, you may use that to toast the gluten free bread.
2. Flour sifters: The mesh screen found in flour sifters or mesh strainers are difficult to clean. For the gluten free kitchen, these items should be replaced.
3. Wooden cutting boards, spoons, spatulas: Wood is porous and if used with wheat products previously, small particles of gluten remain in the wood, despite cleaning.
4. Colanders are often used to drain pasta. The small holes in colanders are difficult to clean and get completely free of gluten.
5. Peanut butter, jam, or mayonnaise are just a few examples of foods that are spread on bread. Knives that come in contact with bread and then go back into a jar will contaminate the spread. Purchase separate jars of each, then label “gluten free” for the person who needs to avoid gluten.
If you have been maintaining the gluten free diet for a while, yet still experience symptoms, dig a little deeper to see whether you are exposed to gluten from a “hidden” source. In addition to the suggestions I’ve listed here, don’t forget to check your medicine cabinet, vitamin, and mineral supplements as well!
Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Wellcoach. She is the author of “The EVERYTHING Guide to Managing and Reversing Pre-Diabetes 2nd Ed.”, “The EVERYTHING Diabetes Cookbook 2nd Ed.”, “Virtual Grocery Store Tour: Getting The Most Nutrition Out Of Your Food Shopping”, “Pre-Diabetes: Your Second Chance At Health”, “The Quick Start Guide to Healthy Eating”, “The Quick Start Guide To Pre-Diabetes” and “Quick Start Recipes For Healthy Meals”. Read her articles, recipes and blog at http://www.nutritionxpert.com and learn more about her books at
© 2014 Gretchen Scalpi. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Donovan Govan