Celiac Disease (CD) is a lifelong inherited autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems.
Gluten is the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. These proteins are found in all forms of wheat (including durum, semolina, spelt, Kamut®, bulgur) and related grains: rye, barley and triticale and must be eliminated. On the contrary oats, corn, rice and buckwheat are gluten free, but as they are often processed on the same equipment as their gluteny counterparts it’s always necessary to check the label.
Since gluten appears in many foods, some obvious and some not so obvious, the list of foods containing gluten is a long one.
• Fruits and Vegetables: All fresh products should be safe. Pre-packaged fruit and vegetable products (including frozen and canned goods) may contain gluten or be subject to cross-contamination.
• Meats and Fish: Fresh meats, poultry and fish with no added ingredients are safe if they’re kept away from gluten cross-contamination at the store. Pre-packaged products, such as hams, bacon, and sausages, may or may not contain gluten.
• Milk and Dairy Products: Fresh plain milk, butter, plain yogurt, fresh eggs and many cheeses are gluten-free. Some ice creams are gluten-free and some are not.
• Breads, Snacks, Cereals and Pastas: With few exceptions, anything you buy in these categories should be specifically labeled “gluten-free.”
• Baking Mixes and Supplies: Any baking mix you purchase should be specifically labeled “gluten-free.” Most baking supplies, such as baking soda, sugar and cocoa, are considered gluten-free, but you should check ingredients to make certain.
• Condiments, Sauces and Spices: You’ll need to check ingredients and/or call manufacturers in most cases to determine what’s gluten-free and what’s not.
• Coffee, Tea, Fruit Drinks: Unflavored coffee and plain black or green tea should be gluten-free, but flavored varieties may not be. Juice made from 100% fruit should be gluten-free, but fruit drinks made from fruit plus other ingredients may not be.
General list of products that naturally contain gluten
- Bread crumbs
- Potato chips
- Canned soup and broth
- Stock cubes
- French fries
- Any ready to eat food
Prevent gluten cross contamination
Cross-contamination is when gluten-free food comes into contact with food that does contain gluten.
• Don’t prepare gluten-free foods on the same surface used to prepare foods with gluten unless the surface has been thoroughly cleaned.
• Make sure utensils have been thoroughly cleaned after preparing gluten-containing foods. Even better, have separate sets of utensils for gluten-free food preparation
• Don’t deep-fry gluten-free foods in the same oil used to fry breaded items
• Don’t cook gluten free pasta or rice in the same water used to cook food containing gluten
• Avoid using gluten-containing flours in kitchens where gluten-free food is prepared. Wheat flour can stay airborne for many hours and contaminate surfaces, utensils, and uncovered gluten-free food.