While out with friends for dinner at an Italian restaurant, I ordered what I consider my fail-safe dinner: Steak, steamed vegetables and a baked potato. It’s a slam dunk, right? No sauces, creams, seasonings or additives to worry about. Unless, of course, they dunk those steamed vegetables in pasta water. A hard lesson was learned that day.

CC000552Unless something is prepared in a dedicated g-free facility or kitchen, the chances of cross contamination are high. Retracing what you ate, what you purchased or how something was made can help solve the mystery. But it’s often impossible to pinpoint the source or avoid cross contamination, even when you’ve taken great pains to go g-free.

A fun little point to keep all of my neurotic readers awake at night: Cross contamination can happen before products even make it to store shelves.  A 2010 study by the American Dietetic Association found that of 22 naturally g-free grains purchased and tested, nine (41%) had been contaminated with a small but significant amount of gluten, while seven (32%) contained enough gluten to not be considered g-free.

In other words: 73% of the g-free grains tested had been contaminated with gluten. How? Unless those naturally g-free grains had been processed and packaged in a g-free facility, they very likely could have come in contact with gluten-containing products.

So what’s a g-free person to do? Look for labels that specifically say “Processed in a dedicated gluten free facility.” Other tips to avoid cross contamination:

  • Have dedicated g-free dishes, cookware and condiments at home
  • Be specific and ask questions when ordering out
  • Avoid items fried in the same oil as breaded items
  • Ask how food was prepared when eating at a party
  • Make sure serving utensils aren’t used across g-free and other dishes

Find more tips from the ADA here.

For a list of g-free friendly restaurants, click here.