Whether cooking in your own kitchen or dining out at your favorite restaurant, you must be vigilant about cross contamination from food allergens and/or gluten. For example, a seemingly safe kitchen toaster can pose serious risks to a celiac if it is filled with glutencontaining crumbs.
Here are 10 quick tips to stay safe at home and when dining out:
1. Do not buy food from grocery store bulks bins due to shared scoops and storage equipment.
2. Steer clear from salad bars as food can easily drop from one section into another.
3. Ask to have the deli slicer cleaned before preparing your order. Request clean gloves too. To ensure safety, purchase pre-sliced packaged deli meats which list ingredients.
4. Make sure ice cream shops don’t share scoops for different flavors. Consider potential for nut cross-contamination in the sundae preparation area.
5. In your home kitchen, designate and clearly label cooking equipment that is gluten- or allergen-free. Never use unwashed utensils that have been in contact with gluten/allergens and be careful not to place food directly on contaminated surfaces.
6. Research which restaurants in your area offer gluten-free or allergy-friendly menus. Check out Triumphdining.com, glutenfreepassport.com and yelp.com.
7. Call ahead to the restaurant to discuss your dietary restrictions and safe menu options with the staff and chef. Bring a list of ingredients that you need to avoid to educate the staff.
8. Avoid “high-risk” restaurants entirely. For example, if you have fish/shellfish or nut allergies, Asian restaurants are not a safe option for dining out due to the prevalence of these ingredients in the cuisine.
9. Clearly communicate your dietary restrictions to servers. Politely (but firmly) let them know the situation and explain the severity of the issue so that they take your request seriously.
10. Ask a lot of questions! If you have any concerns, ask to speak to the restaurant manager or chef and/or call the manufacturer’s toll free number.