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    Gluten-Free Dining Out

    Melanie Weir
    Gluten-Free Dining Out
    Caption: Photo: CC - Unique Hotels Group

    Celiac.com 04/16/2012 - Can I eat our at restaurants if I’m on a gluten-free diet?

    Eating out gluten-free is not as easy as it seems.  If you Google "gluten-free restaurants," your bound to find a selection of gluten-free menus and gluten-free yelp reviews.  However, a global definition for gluten-free does not exist in the restaurant world.

    Photo: CC - Unique Hotels GroupMany 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

    1. Use of a Separate Strainer: Using a strainer that has been used for pastas or other gluten products, can result in cross contamination.
    2. Salad Dressing: Many salad dressing utilize gluten containing ingredients like malt vinegar, spices, natural flavorings, wheat, etc.
    3. Vegetable Chopping Board: A vegetable chopping board must either be completely sterilized or a gluten-free dedicated board must be used.
    4. Knife: Knife must be sterilized with heat before being used on gluten-free ingredients.
    5. 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).
    6. 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.
    Gluten-Free on the Grill
    1. 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.
    2. Many meats are marinated in sauces containing gluten before they are cooked.
    Gluten Free Pizza & Bakery Products
    1. If an exhaust fan is used in the oven, a screen must be used.
    2. Pizza toppings for gluten free pizza should be housed in a separate area.
    3. Cannot be prepared in a facility that uses gluten containing flours, because flour dust in the air settles on food.
    4. Mixing utensils, wooden spoons, scrapes in bowls and cutting boards must be sterile or maintained for just gluten-free products.
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    It isn't necessary, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) to have the toppings for a gluten-free pizza stored in a separate area.

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    Guest Gloria Brown

    Posted

    Though once not so sensitive, I now get sick just sitting in a restaurant from breathing gluten which has become suspended in the air and forgetting to wash my hands afterwards from gluten oils on my fingers have picked-up, creating a second-hand contamination (so to speak).

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    Guest Draca

    Posted

    It isn't necessary, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) to have the toppings for a gluten-free pizza stored in a separate area.

    Use common sense: if the toppings are not stored seperately they may become contaminated. Who cares what the GIG says. People need to learn to think for themselves.

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    I understand the cleanliness and cross-contamination concerns, but I don't see why knives and cutting boards must be sterilized. Sterilization kills bacteria and viruses but does not get rid of gluten. If you heat a knife that has gluten on it, you will just end up with toasted gluten! Careful washing is sufficient to rid utensils of gluten. Sterilization is not necessary.

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    I'd like more info on heat sterlization. Sterilized gluten sounds like a cross-contamination misunderstanding. I wouldn't eat wheat pasta even if it' sterile. Why not thoroughly wash and rinse knives (assume design and materials don't dictate the knives cannot be adequately cleaned)?

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    Guest blueraiderfan10

    Posted

    It isn't necessary, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) to have the toppings for a gluten-free pizza stored in a separate area.

    Yes. this is according to GIG but to be "glutened" just because one wants a pizza is not worth it. (Believe me I know.)

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    Guest Ellen

    Posted

    What's this about sterilizing and heating the knife? This has nothing to do with gluten. I find it annoying when others, let alone others on a gluten-free diet, don't understand the difference between a pathogen and a protein. You cannot "kill" gluten with heat. This might seem like a small matter to pick at, but when we don't understand our own diet and promote ignorance like this, how can we expect other people to understand and take us seriously?

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    Guest Suzanne Thomson

    Posted

    That's a good checklist and it would be great if all restaurants followed these procedures, but in reality I am not convinced that they do. I seem to get glutened every 1 in 3 visit to a restaurant.

     

    I'm also confused about the sterilization of the knife part though! Washing it would make more sense.

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    Guest Joy Rogers

    Posted

    As much of an issue for me is the restaurants that say they have gluten-free items or a gluten-free menu, but seem to be using it as a ploy. I've been to a number of restaurants that claim to provide gluten-free items, but the reality is their choices boil down to either a stripped-down salad or a bland piece of meat and steamed veggies while still charging the full menu price. Grrrr... seriously?! It's not that hard to cook hearty, flavorful meals! I've figured it out, and I am sooo not a trained cook!

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    I know how cross contamination can happen. I am not sure how this helps me dining out as I am not in the kitchen cooking myself.

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  • About Me

    While studying abroad in England in 2001, I was introduced to Celiac Disease. I tried out the gluten-free diet, but was unsuccessful. In 2002, without knowing about my previous attempt at eliminating gluten from my diet, I was encouraged by a nutritionist to try out a gluten free diet. After keeping a food journal for a month, she noticed that my stomach problems and emergency room visits increased the more I consumed foods containing gluten. With the help of my nutritionist, I cut gluten out of my diet for 4 weeks and at the end of that 4 weeks, I was amazed. My itchy rash had gone away and I didn't get get sick after every meal. It was at that moment that I began researching celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. After almost 6 years of research and analysis of celiac disease & the gluten-free diet, I have opened a gluten-free store, "Gluten Free Specialty Market" in Downtown Sacramento, California. The goal is to provide both gluten-free products and gluten-free resources to the local community. With both a BA and AM degree in Psychology, my goal is to provide information about both the physical and psychological effects of celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.

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