Diet and Nutrition

Making Gluten-Free Foods in a Non-Dedicated Kitchen

Making Gluten-Free Foods in a Non-Dedicated Kitchen

Avoiding foods containing gluten when eating in restaurants is difficult enough for those with wheat allergies and more critically, for celiacs? Restaurants provide “gluten-free” dishes, but what can be done to ensure that techniques avoid cross-contamination? And are being followed?

Joan has celiac disease. She cannot have even the slightest crumb of a gluten-containing product. Joan loves to go out to different restaurants with friends, but her last experience provided her with a trip to the hospital.

She ordered just a simple salad, discussed her requirements with the wait staff, and was assured there would be no cross-contamination. The salad was delicious, and Joan was happy with the restaurant following her instructions to a tee. As Joan ate the last of the salad, she crunched on something hard. It was a tiny piece of a crouton. Of course it was gluten free. Right? She had been assured. Joan swallowed. A few hours later, Joan was rushed to the nearest emergency room with terrible stomach pains, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Joan’s resolve? Joan now inspects all the salads and foods she orders at restaurants. And, she asks about ingredients. It is annoying to the restaurant staff, but she now knows enough to check for cross-contamination of foods.

Gluten 101

Gluten is the protein in grains that adds volume, texture, and elasticity to bread and other baked goods. This protein is found in wheat, rye, barley, and to a lesser extent, oats as well as other hybrids of these grains. These proteins are similar to that of a papercut or splinter digging into the lining of your gut, causing an inflammatory response. 

In your small intestine, there are finger-like projections called villi. Villi work hard to turn the foods you eat into nutrients. When you eat the slightest amount of gluten, villi will be damaged, and you will experience dangerous consequences.

Gluten-free diets are the only treatment for those with celiac disease and to a lesser extent, those with wheat, rye, and barley intolerance. Watch out for hybrids of these grains; they will also cause problems to your intestines.

It's okay to fix food in a non-certified environment, just be aware that cross-contamination may occur. Someone with celiac disease may become violently ill, even if they eat the tiniest bit of gluten.

Non-dedicated facilities and baking gluten-free

You can bake gluten-free products in a non-dedicated kitchen, but you must also follow specific procedures to prevent cross-contamination. Listed are the steps and rules you need to follow:

  • Handling Ingredients. Make sure there are separate storage and preparation areas for gluten-containing ingredients and gluten-free foods.
  • Check that you have equipment clearly marked for either gluten-free or gluten-containing products. Fixing gluten-free products in a non-gluten free environment means you will need double the mixing bowls, utensils, and cooking pans, and utensils.
  • If you are preparing foods that need to be labeled gluten-free, use clothing designated for gluten-free food preparation. Provide clean lab coats and gloves for those who are preparing gluten-free meals.