Thursday, 8 August 2013

Avoiding cross-contamination

When we met with the paediatric dietician following Alexandra's diagnosis of Coeliac's she emphasised the importance of avoiding cross- contamination in the kitchen. I had visions of having to get dressed up in Homer Simpson-like radioactivity suits, masks and gloves, the whole nine yards, when ever I touched anything to do with her food. (An excuse for an extension to the kitchen was also in the back of my mind, but that hasn't materialised yet funnily enough!) The dietician really pushed the fact that the tiniest crumb could make Alex sick as her stomach was so damaged (she was right as it turns out- point to the NHS!).

However, the reality of avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen is not as difficult as first imagined. I guess everyone who has to deal with Coeliac's discovers their own systems for keeping themselves/ their children safe. These are some of the things that work for me:

  • Separate butter and jam- marked with a sticker.
  • Squeezy bottles of mayo, ketchup and honey instead of jars.
  • Different plates for my 2 children . This is not necessary in terms of contamination, but helps me remember which food is for who if I'm doing non-GF stuff too. (although as I mentioned in a previous post, this doesn't always work!)
  • Separate wooden chopping board and bread knife for GF bread. 
  • Toaster bags for the toaster.
  • A cupboard for GF dried foods (pastas, crackers, mixes etc).
  • I don't buy 'normal' flour any more- GF flour is fine for most things.
  • A drawer in the freezer for GF food. 
  • I always wash Alexandra's plates and cutlery first when I'm washing up- anything with gluten toast crumbs gets rinsed and washed last.
  • Tinfoil on the grill if I'm doing anything GF. 
  • When I'm preparing GF and non GF stuff (eg sandwiches/ packed lunches) I split the kitchen in 2 and keep butters, knives, breads in their own halves of the kitchen. I prepare all the things I'm going to be using for both meals (eg cutting cheese) in the GF side. (I know this sounds obvious, but I have almost got caught out by using the same knife for both butters before.)
  • I have gotten rid of things like stock-cubes that had gluten in them and only buy GF versions now- most of my cooking tends to be gluten-free when possible. 
I know some families go completely gluten-free when a family member is diagnosed with Coeliac's. We haven't, both because it would be very expensive, and because (selfishly) myself and my husband don't particularly like some of the GF foods that the girls eat. The range and taste of gluten-free food is changing and improving all the time though, so we may go completely over to the dark side at some point in the future- you never know!

Do you have any 'top tips' to avoid gluten contamination in your kitchen? Would love to hear any suggestions.


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