Understanding Gluten Contamination


It’s day five of the 10 Days of Gluten Free blog hop!  I am covering topics related to getting started on the gluten free diet.  Be sure to visit the other participating blogs listed at the end of this post.  Each one is covering a different gluten-free topic and has a great giveaway you can enter.

Understanding Gluten Contamination

Gluten can show up in foods by being part of the ingredients.  It can also show up through cross contamination (or cross contact) during the processing or preparation of foods.

When gluten-containing foods are processed, those foods can leave gluten behind on the equipment, particularly dry foods such as cereals and baking mixes.  In addition flour and other fine particles can become air born and hang in the air up to 24 hours before settling on surfaces.

When food is prepared in a kitchen that contains gluten, whether at home or restaurant, there is a risk of that food becoming contaminated.

Contamination During Processing

Equipment:  Some companies clean their equipment between various products that they run.  Other companies use separate equipment for allergy free products, but the equipment is part of the same facility.  A few companies have a separate manufacturing facility for gluten or allergy free items.  And, of course, there are companies who produce only gluten-free foods.

Labels:  When you start reading labels you will notice that some of them contain a statement at the end of the ingredient information that communicates the fact that the food was processed on equipment or in a facility that contains other allergens.

These statements are not required by law nor are they regulated.  That means that a product without a statement may still be produced on equipment with other allergens (including wheat).  It also means that just because a statement indicates that a food was produced in the same facility as other allergens, it does not mean that it is not produced on the same equipment.

I go into a little more detail about  warning statements in the post Reading Labels Part 3.

Contamination During Preparation

If you think of a kitchen like a food processing line, the risk of contamination is the same.  Anything that gluten comes in contact with can potentially contaminate gluten-free food.

On Monday I will be talking more about your kitchen.



Shelley Case is giving away a copy of her book Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide.  The title is an appropriate description.  This book would be useful to anyone on a gluten-free diet.

Giveaway Guidelines

  • This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents 18 and older.
  • You are allowed one entry per “10 Days of Gluten Free” blog post for a total of 10 entries on this blog.
  • Enter by leaving a comment on this post (and other 10 Days of GF posts)
  • The giveaway begins May 7, 2012 and ends at 11:59 pm eastern time on May 18, 2012.

No purchase is necessary.  Odds of winning are based on the number of entries.  The winner will be randomly chosen and will be contacted by email.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond.  If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be randomly chosen.

10 Days of Gluten Free Continues:

These bloggers have great tips and ideas to share with you.  Please stop by and remember to enter the giveaways.


This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.


  1. says

    I agree, we are still relatively new to this, but even we see the red flags all over it. My 7 year old gluten free girlie will not be eating this one! Thank you for the info. It was a great post!

  2. Deanna says

    Thank you for the information on cross contamination. It is so hard to get others to understand that cross contamination is just like picking up that slice of “gluten” and eating it.

  3. Vicky says

    Boy, don’t get me started on this subject. Going into any restaurant, my heart starts a pumping and some anxiety starts in, worrying about is this place safe, will they understand my allergic reaction, just repeating myself again about how I can’t eat this and that. And please don’t cross contaminate!

    I wish the servers were taught to say, ‘ Hi I’m _____, your server. Welcome to ____ and before I start is there everyone here that has any food allergies I need to know about.’ Wouldn’t that be wonderful!!

  4. says

    I educate all my friends on how easy cross-contamination can occur. Things like using a knife to spread mayo on their gluten laden bread, and then sticking it back in the jar. Or at a buffet line, using a spoon from the gluten-free potato salad in the gluten laden macaroni salad, and then putting it back into the gluten-free potato salad. While these may seem like innocent acts, they do not realize the risks associated with their actions for those of us with food allergies.

  5. Susan says

    We had to learn how to make sure cross-contamination does not happen in our kitchen – it took us about a year or two before we now almost automatically make sure of that. (I have gluten-intolerance – my DH can eat “normally”.) For example, we have separate butter dishes. I hate picking up an interesting product, only to see “produced in a facility with wheat, soy, etc …, because it means I probably can’t eat it. Once in a while I will take a chance and buy the product and just hope I don’t get sick!

  6. jennifer s says

    Great info! Still learning, and eating out is one of the hardest parts about being gf.

  7. Cindy says

    Hopefully some day soon, there will be safe restaurants across the US. Until then, we have to be very careful.

  8. Natalie says

    My gi symptoms are disappearing but more symptoms are taking their place…like neuropathy and shaking hands. I have just had blood tests to determine my levels of vitamins and hormones. I am not sure, but I do believe that I get cross contamination. No one in my family except me has celiac disease. Thanks for the info. I hope others and I can learn from your advice and get better!!! (gluten free ~ 2 mos)

  9. Colleen M. says

    It is so important to educate your entire family about cross contanimation in the kitchen if everyone is not GF. Everything from cutting boards, strainers, separate toasters, “condiment” jars, butter dish, etc. I continue to educate my family at EVERY opportunity!

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