Cross Contamination: What it is, Why it’s a Concern, & How to Prevent it.

I talk a lot about Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, the gluten free diet and have mentioned cross contamination. I haven’t really addressed cross contamination though, what it is, why it’s a concern for us who have to follow a gluten free diet and how to prevent it.

What is cross contamination?

The best way I think to describe cross contamination (cc) is to give an example: using the same knife to spread butter on gluten containing bread and then using it on gluten free bread. Other examples are: using a shared toaster, not cleaning counter tops before making gluten free foods where gluten containing foods were made prior, using a shared fryer.

Cross contamination refers to unintentionally contact of a contaminant (gluten, peanuts, bacteria, etc) to another product. Other examples, aside from gluten cc would be not sanitizing an area after preparing raw chicken (which carries a lot of bacteria).

Why is it a concern?

In relation to the gluten free diet, cross contamination is a concern because it can make those with Celiac/ gluten intolerance very sick. Everyone has their own sensitivity, some react to cross contamination, others may not. Unfortunately, I react very much to it. When my food has become cross contaminated, I get a headache, upset stomach and fatigue. Symptoms similar to what I would get when getting full on “glutened”, although they aren’t quite as severe. Even walking in the food court at the mall bothers me. Flour stays in the air for 24 hours, and when ingested by breathing through your mouth- can enter the digestive tract and cause symptoms. Weird, I know.

In high school I had a teacher who would toast her bread during class and liked it burnt. By the end of class, I would have an awful headache. When walking in the food courts, the strong smell of the soft pretzels and pizza gives me a headache, I become fatigued and also get “brain fog.”

How to prevent cross contamination:

  • Clean the area! Wipe down all areas gluten has came in contact with- counter tops, stove, oven, microwave, refrigerator handles, oven handle, stove knobs, everything.
  • Try to avoid using flour, or at least allow 24 hours for it to settle if possible. Which unfortunately, can be very hard to do- if not impossible considering the circumstance you’re in.


I hope this post was helpful! Feel free to comment below!