Cross Contamination

At Home

Clean utensils and work surfaces, such as cutting boards or bread boards, before using them for gluten-free foods.

Keep a separate food grinder for gluten-free foods.

Keep a separate toaster for regular bread to prevent bread crumbs from contaminating gluten-free bread.

All spreads (jams, butter, margarine, peanut butter, mayonnaise, etc.) that could become contaminated with bread crumbs should be bought in twos or divided into separate, labelled containers.

Put a colourful sticker on gluten-free foods in the refrigerator and pantry so that the whole family can easily identify them.

At the Grocery Store

If a food is not labelled “gluten-free” on the package, do not take a chance. Contact the company for detailed information before using it.

Flours and starches are very volatile and can be contaminated by gluten, even if they are made from grains that are naturally gluten-free. Buy them from a supplier that produces exclusively gluten-free products.

Do not buy nuts or other foods from bulk bins, even if they are organic.

Buy whole spices or those labelled “gluten-free.” Beware of powdered spices (ground pepper, cinnamon, onion powder, etc.). They may contain wheat starch to increase volume, but this is not always included on the label.

Read the list of ingredients on processed foods carefully since they may contain gluten. Here is a list of problem foods:

Processed meats (cretons, sausages, cold cuts, etc.

Icing sugar

Liver, country and veggie pâtés

Some spices and seasoning mixes

Crab flavoured pollock (or surimi)

Vegetable powders and some ground peppers

Blue cheeses and cheeses with beer-washed rinds

Some artificial and natural flavourings

Sauces, salad dressings and dips

Fries (if oil is also used for breaded foods)

Soup bases, canned and packages soups

Some chocolates and candies

Ingredients that signal possible gluten starch (not indicated)

  • modified starch
  • flavourings
  • seasonings
  • spices (not specified )
  • maltodextrin
  • maltose
  • miso
  • hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • garlic and other powders
  • baking powder
  • soy sauce
  • tamari sauce

Check the ingredient list on everyday foods regularly, since manufacturers can change their recipes.

At Friends or Relatives

Always advise friends and relatives of your gluten intolerance and provide a list of ingredients that might contain gluten and a list of foods that are naturally gluten free.

Ask for a separate plate of cheese to avoid contamination from cracker or bread crumbs containing gluten. Bring your own crackers or bread.

At barbecues, ask to have your food cooked on aluminum foil instead of directly on the grill.

For breakfast, bring along toastabags packets for toasting your bread without contaminating it.

Offer to bring dessert to make things easier for the host or hostess.


It is very difficult to eat gluten free at a restaurant, particularly because of the risk of cross contamination. Avoid buffet style restaurants.

Call ahead to find out whether the restaurant offers gluten-free meals and if procedures are in place to avoid cross contamination (staff awareness). If possible, talk to the chef. Your request will then be directed to the kitchen, where your food is prepared.

Check restaurant menus ahead of time online to help you identify gluten-free options. Follow this up with a call to the restaurant to ensure that the choices you found online are being served that day. Using the term “allergic” instead of “intolerant” will have a stronger impact when alerting staff to your gluten-free needs.

Ask if your fries are cooked in the same oil as breaded foods.

Gluten can be hidden in salad dressings, soups, sauces, etc. Always ask for the list of ingredients used. Many restaurants have gluten-free dressings and sauces they can substitute.

Bring your own bread or crackers to go with your meal.

When ordering alcohol, opt for a glass of wine, champagne, cider or port, because liquor can contain additives (caramel, colorants, etc.)


Before leaving on a trip, do an online search to find places that sell or produce gluten-free foods and contact the celiac association of the destination country.

To avoid unpleasant surprises, bring along a small amount of gluten-free products to see you through the first few days (bread, cookies, snacks, etc.).

For flight or cruise reservations, inquire about gluten-free meals when you book your ticket. Some companies already offer this service.

Look for feedback from travellers who have been to the same countries.

Many airline companies offer gluten-free meals, but these must be ordered in advance. Be sure to confirm your order by telephone 48 hours before leaving.

At the Pharmacy

The coatings on some supplements and medications may contain gluten. Check with your pharmacist.

Choose gluten-free toothpaste.

Beware of lip balm or lipsticks, which may contain gluten.