Do you have to have a dedicated gluten-free kitchen when you have celiac disease?

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q: Do you have to have a dedicated gluten-free kitchen when you have celiac disease?

Answer


No, it is not required to have a completely gluten-free kitchen. Some have an all gluten-free kitchen, others have some gluten-containing items for other family members.

However, it is definitely best if family meals that are eaten together are gluten free as it is a risk to prepare gluten-containing items near gluten-free foods, especially loose flour. You should never bake gluten-free and gluten-containing items at the same time. Flour easily gets everywhere and can contaminate other foods.

Studies have found that people with celiac disease can react to as little as 10 mg of gluten per day (1). That is the amount in a few crumbs, so cross-contact is a real concern for someone with celiac disease.

If you are not able to have a dedicated gluten-free kitchen here are some general guidelines:

  • Keep surfaces such as counters and microwave turntable clean from crumbs and debris.
  • Wash pots, pans, measuring cups and utensils between use.
  • Use separate utensils for each foods.
  • Use separate dedicated condiments such as butter, jam, jelly, and peanut butter to avoid double dipping and crumbs. Squeeze bottles are also a good option.
  • Use separate sugar, baking powder/baking soda etc. for baking to prevent cross-contact from flour.
  • Avoid cooking gluten-containing foods and gluten-free foods together in the oven - do it separately. Also, do not use the convection feature when cooking gluten-free because there might be flour in the fan from when regular bread/food was baked that can recirculate and potentially contaminate the food.
  • Store GF products in a separate cabinet or shelf, or above gluten-containing products.
  • Label or color code GF foods or utensils.

Do I need to use dedicated equipment?

I would recommend that you use dedicated items for things that are porous or difficult to clean.

Below are items that are too hard to clean or porous, and we recommend using a dedicated gluten-free version:

  • Wood cutting boards/utensils/rolling pins
  • Strainer/colander
  • Sifter
  • Cast iron pans
  • Bread maker/ sandwich maker/waffle iron
  • Fryolator/air fryer
  • Use a dedicated toaster or use foil in a toaster oven (2)

A recent study showed that washing pots and pans with detergent and water was enough to get rid of gluten and safe to cook gluten-free food in (no need for completely dedicated GF pans). However, the same study showed that cutting GF foods with the same knife as gluten-containing foods and not washing it in between transferred too much gluten, while washing it was enough to get rid of the gluten. They found that washing is key to remove gluten and recommend to wash hands and surfaces with soap and water to remove gluten (3).

Cleaning with soap and water or running through the dishwasher should be enough to get rid of gluten from any non-porous material. When hand-washing items, make sure to use dedicated gluten-free sponges/brushes and rags as they can get gluten stuck to them and introduce gluten on dishes and surfaces.

References:

  1. Catassi C, Fabiani E, Iacono G, et al. A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to establish a safe gluten threshold for patients with celiac disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(1):160‐166. doi:10.1093/ajcn/85.1.160
  2. Going Gluten Free: Off to a Fresh Start. Presentation. Published November, 2021.
  3. Weisbrod VM, Silvester JA, Raber C, McMahon J, Coburn SS, Kerzner B. Preparation of Gluten-Free Foods Alongside Gluten-Containing Food May Not Always Be as Risky for Celiac Patients as Diet Guides Suggest. Gastroenterology. 2020;158(1):273‐275. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2019.09.007

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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