Families that have members both with and without celiac disease under one roof often have separate kitchen equipment. But is this something we should be concerned about? Is sharing kitchen equipment used for gluten containing foods safe for those with celiac disease?
An October 2019 study sheds light on this common concern. The study tested traces of gluten in gluten-free foods prepared with three common pieces of kitchen equipment: a toaster used for whole wheat bread, a knife used to slice gluten-containing cupcakes, and a pot used to cook wheat-based pasta. When tested, gluten free foods prepared using these kitchen items contained less than 20 parts per million of gluten and in most cases less than 10 parts per million of gluten. According to gluten-free standards, anything less than 20 parts per million is considered gluten-free and can be labeled as such in both the United States and Europe.
The only significant cross-contamination found in the study was when pasta water, used to cook wheat-based pasta, was re-used to cook gluten-free pasta. Both the shared toaster and shared pasta pot in many cases resulted in no traces of gluten, while the cupcake knife resulted in 2 instances above 20 parts per million out of thirty tries. The study also showed that when rinsed with water, almost all traces of gluten are eliminated.
While researchers were surprised at the low likelihood of cross-contamination using shared kitchen equipment, scientists still stress the importance of those with celiac disease continuing to be vigilant in avoiding gluten exposure. As we’ve discussed in past studies, gluten contamination exists, especially in gluten-free restaurant foods, and can pose a real threat to celiac patients.