My sister went to great lengths to make sure food was safe for Jon and me when we visited this past week. She either cooked the entire meal gluten-free, or made sure there were no issues with cross-contamination if she did have anything with gluten for those that aren’t following the gluten-free diet.
Tuesday night’s menu included tacos, refried beans, corn and salad. She had soft corn tortillas, hard corn shells and flour tortillas (not GF) available to build tacos. Kelly wasn’t feeling well, so my mom and I took over serving the food. I was carefully building my salad, Jon’s dish and then BAM – I stuck the spoon for the taco meat right onto Hannah’s non-gluten-free flour tortilla and back into the pan. I realized my faux pas as soon as I did it. Couldn’t I just rewind & undo what I had just done?
The reason I think it is important to share this story is to show that even a person who is very experienced with the gluten-free diet is capable of making a mistake. Fortunately I caught what I did and then knew that the meat was “off limits”. When gluten-free foods & non-gluten-free foods are made in the same kitchen, there is always a potential for cross-contamination. I think that it is easy to get complacent as time goes on, and it takes something like this to send an important reminder about steps you should take to prevent future similar occurrences.
Here are some steps to help prevent cross-contamination when cooking both gluten-free and non-gluten-free foods:
1. Use separate sides of the stove, utensils, etc for GF and non-GF food.
2. Make gluten-free food first and consider reheating later on.
3. If making the gluten-free food first isn’t an option, make sure to serve the gluten-free food first.
4. If you must use the same colander for gluten-free & non-gluten-free pasta, drain the gluten-free pasta first.
5. Slow down & think through each step.
I have been following the gluten-free diet for over 6 years and I still made a mistake. Anyone can make a mistake like this – whether you’re new to the diet or have been following it for years.
If your kitchen isn’t 100% gluten-free, have you made similar mistakes?