I have seen this claim on the internet multiple times and so I decided to check out its validity in order to impress on any non-coeliacs the importance of being aware of cross contamination.
I refuse to believe anything on the internet without conducting some kind of research. You can see from the quote image that I have made, how easy it is to take a “fact” as truth – it looks and sounds legitimate and includes my website in the bottom right to give it more punch. So I conducted some research to find its source.
For those of you who don’t know, cross contamination of gluten is when a gluten free meal becomes contaminated with a gluten containing food, often through using the same utensils for gluten free and gluten containing foods. It’s a big issue in restaurants – the chaotic rush of a commercial kitchen which handles gluten is bound to lead to a stray crumb. Whilst this might seem inconsequential if you’ve never experienced coeliac symptoms, for us it’s a big worry. That one careless crumb can lead to days of agony and sometimes even weeks of recovery.
Just in case you still don’t believe me when I say it can take just a crumb to cause us agony, I tracked down the source of this “1/64 of a teaspoon” claim. Whilst many websites quote it simply claiming it as a “coeliac fact” without crediting a source, it seems to have originated from this article by Lori Rowell MS. RD at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. The academic in me was keen to discover whether this is peer-reviewed (which it does seem to be) and given the reputation of this Center in leading research on Coeliac Disease, this is undoubtedly a useful source. This article is a very useful read for anyone who wants to know more about reducing the risk.
So what can be done to protect coeliacs from this hard to detect danger? The first step, to my mind, is awareness for non-coeliacs and food handlers/chefs. That’s partly what I hope to do here.
Another way we can cope with the dangers of cross contamination is by supporting 100% gluten free eateries. A few weeks ago I posted a list of all of the UK‘s 100% GF eateries in an attempt to promote them and to help people find their nearest ones. In these wonderful, often family run places, cross contamination is not an issue.
The last frontier to combat for cross contamination is restaurants that offer “no gluten containing ingredients” food. Whilst Coeliac UK has done a lot of work with their accreditation programme to minimise cross contamination, lots of restaurants still have NGCI menus. For coeliacs, this can be an issue – there is no guarantees with these menus. Eateries need to be aware that no gluten doesn’t necessarily equal gluten free.
Cross contamination will always be a worry for us, but every coeliac can do their part for awareness and progress . Educate the people around you with well informed research and personal anecdotes to help the general populus understand the issues we face on a daily basis.
New recipes every Monday, new blog posts every Friday and Youtube videos twice a month.
Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA
E-mail your questions or suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org