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Cross Contamination Question
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I am a foodservice chef in a small Midwestern college, and serving our student with gluten intolerance is a huge priority for us. We will soon be opening a new facility that features a lot of made to order items, especially in our Asian wok area. We intend to have saute pans specifically designated for non-gluten cooking.

 

Are there steps that must be taken when washing these pans? Could we possibly cross contaminate our pans by washing them with pans that have had pasta cooked in them? By the way, it is a three step process where they are scrubbed in one sink, rinsed in another, and then sanitized in a third sink. Any help that you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

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A lot will depend on how thorough the process is at each stage. If the pans are rigorously scrubbed in phase one, and then physically processed in the second phase, they should be clean after the third phase. But just dipping in soapy water and then in "clean" water will not be enough. The sanitizer will kill micro-organisms, but gluten is not alive and thus can not be killed.

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Chef Steve, can I just say that my heart is warmed at the action that you are taking to ensure the safety of your students? Thank you, thank you.  :)

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Having worked in restaurants and used this method myself, I can say it is pretty rare to see any significant length of time pass without any small food particles ending up in the rinse water. If you wash the gluten free dishes first, it shouldn't be a problem. If not, you could end up with an issue. I wonder also if the pans are stainless steel or non-stick. If they are non-stick they would be absolutely not safe to place into gluteny dish water at all. Once the smallest scratches are in the coating, gluten can get in and contaminate the pan. I think as long as you wash these first, and your other gluten free prep items, it shouldn't be a problem. Or, as much as this will seem a burden and waste of time and resources, drain and wipe out the sinks and refill with fresh water if you need to wash.

 

I think it is great that you are taking the steps needed to keep your student safe. Other things that you may not thought of, cutting boards and utensils are big ones. If they are in a different color they will be easy to identify. I short but extremely emphasized "training" on gluten free will help your entire staff. You could look into local(ish) certification trainings for the head chef.

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I'm surprised you don't use a mechanical dishwasher (Not a human one).  Colorado State seems to do a good job with gluten free food.  Maybe you could ask them about their procedures?  I know that at the Deli sandwich counter - they have a purple box with the gluten-free tools in it.  They get out a big mat and put it down then paper then get the gluten-free bread and fresh ingredients not sitting out & used for gluteny sandwiches.  I'm sure they changed their gloves, too.  This was reported by my son from the previous school year.

 

You could use paper plates and utensils for the allergy kids if that would work better.

 

http://www.gluten.net/Programs/awareness-programs/gluten-free-restaurant-awareness-program

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