Celiac.com 04/16/2012 - Can I eat our at restaurants if I’m on a gluten-free diet?
Many times, restaurants, bakeries and deli’s offer gluten-free options like salads (with menu side notes like: order salad without croutons or order meat without bread). If we define gluten-free as less than 20ppm, then the following factors must be followed to ensure safety from gluten contamination (please note this is only a partial list):
Eating Salads Out
- Use of a Separate Strainer: Using a strainer that has been used for pastas or other gluten products, can result in cross contamination.
- Salad Dressing: Many salad dressing utilize gluten containing ingredients like malt vinegar, spices, natural flavorings, wheat, etc.
- Vegetable Chopping Board: A vegetable chopping board must either be completely sterilized or a gluten-free dedicated board must be used.
- Knife: Knife must be sterilized with heat before being used on gluten-free ingredients.
- Prep Area: Salad prep stations are often housed beneath shelves filled with bread. If bread is stored above the salad prep area, then the area cannot be safely maintained as gluten-free. On an additional note, croutons and other gluten products should not be allowed in the gluten-free prep area (1/6th of a bread crumb is all it takes to be contaminated with gluten).
- Salad Toppings: If a topping like chicken, nuts, tofu, peppers or onions are sautéd or prepared on a grill, then the grill and the ingredients must be maintained as gluten-free.
- A grill must be cleaned before a gluten-free product is cooked on it. A separate area for gluten free foods to be cooked is ideal, but not always possible in restaurant settings.
- Many meats are marinated in sauces containing gluten before they are cooked.
- If an exhaust fan is used in the oven, a screen must be used.
- Pizza toppings for gluten free pizza should be housed in a separate area.
- Cannot be prepared in a facility that uses gluten containing flours, because flour dust in the air settles on food.
- Mixing utensils, wooden spoons, scrapes in bowls and cutting boards must be sterile or maintained for just gluten-free products.