October 19, 2011

Cross Contamination

Oh goodness! Cross Contamination... Where to even begin? It is such a huge topic in the gluten free community and it is so important to know and understand COMPLETELY if you are ever going to cook for someone who is gluten intolerant.

So many people think cross contamination is complicated and hard to understand, when really, it is extremely simple. All you need to do is pay attention to what you are doing. Here is a very good example of cross contamination when someone isn't paying attention. On the stove is two pots of pasta. One pot has GF pasta and the other pot has G pasta in it. When cooking a "mixed meal", we will call it, you must have separate utensils for the GF items and the G items and you MUST keep them separate. If you take the G spoon and stir the GF pasta, then you have contaminated the GF pasta and the gluten intolerant person can not eat it.

A type of cross contamination that I have mentioned in previos posts has to do with jars or containers of things that you dip into. For example, peanut butter, jelly, butter, mayonnaise, mustard, cheese spreads, etc. Anything in your pantry or refrigerator that is dipped out of, you need to label "Gluten Free" or "Gluten" and you will need two jars of that specific thing. At our house, we are completely gluten free, so I do not have two jars of everything BUT, I still have everything labeled "Gluten Free" or "GF" so that my guests will know. (Obviously I do not deprive my guests of gluten while they are in my house, they just simply get a quick cross contamination lesson and they are all set!)

There are other types of cross contamination that people do not even think about. Here is a quick list of those things:
-Toaster- bread crumbs get stuck on the sides that hold the bread in place.
-Hand Mixer/Stand Mixer-when you turn the mixer on, flour flies everywhere and gets into the mixer, when you turn it on again, the flour falls into whatever you are mixing next.
-Counter Tops
-Knife blocks (Some people use the bread knife and simply wipe it and put it away, this gets the block contaminated as well)
-Sugar container-When you are baking from scratch, do you use the same measuring cup for the sugar after you have dipped it into the flour?
-Sifters-If you use a flour sifter, flour gets stuck into the rim of the sifter. I feel in order for things like this to be cleaned properly, they need to go through the diswasher.
-Frying oil-DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, fry something covered in glutened flour and then use the same oil to fry something gluten free.

Cross contamination is so dangerous. For some people who are gluten intolerant or have Celiac disease, cross contamination is as bad as them actually consuming something that contains gluten on purpose. Even the smallest molecule could cause this person to have a reaction. If you are ever cooking for someone who is gluten intolerant and you are afraid you are going to mess something up, or you have questions about an ingredient, all you need to do is ask them for help. I know people who end up not cooking for that person who is gluten intolerant because they don't want to get them sick. All you need to do, is read the ingredients and be careful. If you are too concerned about cooking a meal and contaminating something, all you have to do is cook a 100% gluten free meal!! I promise, it's not as bad as some people make it out to be!!!

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