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I just read in another post something about "cross reacting" foods and I am wondering if someone could explain that to this newbie. I ask because there have been a couple of times when I have eaten things like potato chips or corn chips, both absolutely gluten-free and had a mild reaction*. I am wondering if there's something else going on. I am trying to educate myself as much as possible while I await my appointment with an allergist.

*I developed very bad, super itchy, all over hives (but NOT resembling DH), usually getting much worse as the day progressed starting roughly in January. I went through all the usual allergen things - soap, washing machine detergent, etc, then on to shellfish, dairy, etc and purely by coincidence ended up not consuming a lot of gluten in a week's time. The hives improved somewhat and I also noticed that I was sleeping better and did not have as much joint pain. Then one day I ended up consuming a LOT of gluten (a scone in the morning, hamburger bun in the afternoon) and had a massive outbreak. LIGHTBULB! So I have now been gluten-free for about six weeks and I am much improved with the exception of being what you all call "being glutened" a couple of times.

If there's anyone who would be able and willing to explain cross reacting to me I would VERY much appreciate it. I find that there is TONS of information out there on the web, but GOOD information in just a very few places, this one being the tops. I am so grateful to have found this site and after just a week or so of poking around feel MUCH more informed. So thank you all!


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First off - are you sure they were totally gluten-free? If so, how did you know?

Secondly - it's very possible you were just reacting to something in the products you ate. Many people have more than one sensitivity. The reaction you describe (hives) sounds more like an IgE allergy to me.

My son is celiac but then also has a corn allergy. That's not uncommon.


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Celiac has damaged my gut to the point I can't eat spinach, too many cherries, or raisins. The higher the iron content the less chance I can't eat it. Multivitamins with iron? I can set a timer and 15 minutes after I have swallowed it comes right back up. I can't eat lobster anymore either.

So keep a food journal. You may find there are more things that you need to avoid.


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Cross-contamination is what you're asking about. Yes, Lay's potato chips are nothing but potatoes and salt and oil, but what else passed through the packaging lines that they share with other products? Just the smallest crumb or dust from a food containing gluten will be enough to contaminate your supposedly "safe" food with enough gluten to give you a reaction. Some people are very sensitive to this, others don't notice it. I can't eat Fritos or many other commercial products, presumably because of cross-contamination. If they don't share a line with a gluten-containing product they might be made in a building with a constant cloud of wheat flour in the air, settling on everything in miniscule amounts.

Ways to avoid cross-contamination: read labels very carefully. Some will tell you whether the product shares lines with wheat foods or is made in a facility that processes wheat products.

Utensils - don't get hard ice cream that could have been scooped with the same scooper used for the cookies and cream ice cream. Ask for a clean scoop or just get the soft-serve (even that's not guaranteed, from what I read on this forum). Don't eat off of someone else's plate or fork. Don't stir the rice pasta with the regular pasta's wooden spoon.

Don't share a drink with your kid or spouse. You don't know what they had in their mouth.

Don't eat anything that drops on the counter or table - you don't know how clean it is.

Don't bake regular bread at home and then expect the next gluten-free thing you make to be safe - there will be flour in the air, possibly for days.

Don't eat the burger or dog off of the bun - ask for it to never touch the bun in the first place.

Don't pick croutons off and eat the salad - it will hurt you.

Get a fresh set of wooden spoons for home cooking and mark them and threaten your family with pain if they use them for regular food.

Throw away the old pasta strainer or mark it for gluten only and get yourself a new one, because you can never get it clean enough.

Anything that TOUCHES gluten can't touch your food - that's where cross-contamination comes from. After a while it becomes second nature to watch for it and to set rules for yourself about how to avoid it, but in the mean time, be vigilant. It helps to stick to fresh foods and avoid processed foods, even those labeled gluten-free - save them for treats or for days you just can't manage to cook.


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Thank you! I thought cross contamination and cross reacting were different. You offered lots of good points, some of which I hadn't considered, like the strainer and the wooden spoons! I am trying really hard not to get discouraged and the more information I get the better I feel about the choices I am making.


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Cross reacting relates to IgE allergies. What that means is that your body reacts to a food as if it is pollen. I don't know all of what can cross react. My allergist gave me a list but I don't have it handy. I know that if you have a birch allergy you can react to celery. Often the symptom will be OAS (oral allergy syndrome). That means when you eat the offending food you could have itching in your mouth or at the back of your throat. This is what happens to me when I eat almonds or pistachios. And sometimes you can eat the food if cooked, but raw will cause a problem.

I just looked online and here is a list:


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    • glutened by lays potato chips?
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