What is cross contamination?….
Cross contamination is when allergy safe foods or drinks come in contact with allergens via cooking, equipment or the storing process.
And one of the biggest ways to have a gluten whoopsy is due to cross contamination.
What I have noticed is that many food providers believe they are providing GF suitable foods when actually they are putting us at risk due to the cooking/storing process.
The most important part of our food allergy journey is education.
Don’t ever feel like you can’t ask how your meal has been stored and cooked if you are worried, I do it all the time.
The cooking risks….
The risk of cross contamination when cooking I find is quite high.
I don’t know how many times I’ve ordered a meal and when asked how it is cooked they have said in multi use equipment.
And when I explain that due to this cooking process it no longer can be classed as GF they got snotty with me.
Like I always say, education is key.
What I have noticed it that alot of establishments are now placing a paragraph at the bottom of their menu’s explaining that GF food is cooked in a kitchen enviroment where other none GF foods are cooked and prepared so cannot guarantee no cross contamination. Which is a fair statment as they are being open and honest with us.
But to what degree do GF and none GF foods mix in a kitchen?
Is it they just live there together, seperate but together. Or is GF food is actually placed, cooked and stored next to or touching surfaces and cooking equiment that non GF touches.
Again, ask if you are unsure.
The safest option, which unfortunatly is not always available, is to only eat or purcahse GF certified food. Look out for the cross grains symbol to inform you of GF products.
Any product oe food providor stating that their food is GF must legal be supplying food with or less than 20 parts per million (PPM). Some European countries have very low gluten specialist substitute products. This means that they contain 21-100 PPM, there are no very low gluten registered products in the UK at this time.
The storing risks….
It seems pretty obvious not to store GF products next to or in the same container as non GF products but believe me it happends.
Just like cooking the contact made between the two will cause cross contamination when storing.
I believe, and this is just my thoughts, thats why GF food comes in so much packaging when purchasin g in supermarkets. So they can guarantee there no cross contamination.
I am proactive in helping the enviroment and try my hardest not to waste or use to much plasic especially when purchasing food items. For more information on how to be more sustainable click here.
One of the other main areas of cross contamination when storing foods is surrounding condiments.
I have a serious love affair with condiments and no meal goes without, but when at food establishments Im so wary due to the risks.
I will often go without but that makes me sad, and as I said above, I hate to use plastic for no reason so individual little tubs/sachets are not my first choice. However, they are the safest option and one I have to go to if needed.
Talking condiments, especially if they are pre put out for you in little ramakins or in shared bottles make sure they are whats on the label or a GF suitable. Check out here for all my favorite condiments.
Foods to keep an eye on….
Obviously most if not all food can be caught up in cross contamination, but there are particular food which can come at a higher risk.
Maintaining a strict allergen free diet when someone else is cooking for you can be a bit daunting but we have laws now in place to protect us. These laws make it harder for companies to not inform us of ingredents and to provide allergen safe foods and drink so everyone can enjoy without confusion.
So go eat, go travelling, find new places and experiance new tastes. But be careful and if unsure always ask!