Appliances: Risks of Cross-Contact
Updated September 2021
Is there gluten on your kitchen appliances?
Kitchen appliances exist to make cooking and food preparation better: quicker, easier, sometimes healthier, and often tastier. Are kitchen appliances putting you at risk for gluten cross-contact? (Note: Cross-contact is the term used when talking about gluten. Cross-contamination is more commonly used in relation to bacteria.)
Let’s take a look.
Have you ever wondered if it is safe to wash plates for gluten-free foods in the same dishwasher load with plates that have gluten-containing foods on them? If you are using a functional dishwasher that effectively removes food particles and cleans thoroughly, a shared load is fine.
When you can, bake or broil gluten-free and gluten-containing items separately. If this isn’t possible, position the gluten-free items on the higher oven rack to prevent crumbs or bits of gluten-containing food from potentially falling onto your gluten-free food. For extra safety, cover the gluten-free items, if possible, even when they’re on top.
A fan that’s located in the back of convection ovens blows air throughout the oven. If cooking gluten-containing and gluten-free foods together, be aware that wheat dust or food particles could be blown onto gluten-free foods and cause cross-contact. If possible, do not cook gluten-free and gluten-containing items at the same time — or if necessary, cover the gluten-free item. Even when your gluten-free item is the only thing in the oven, always cover it. Gluten-containing wheat dust or food particles from previous oven sessions may still be present and can be blown onto your gluten-free food.
Gluten-free members of your household can safely share the same microwave with those who do eat gluten, but don’t heat up items together. Because microwave ovens are generally smaller than a conventional oven, there could be a significant risk of items spilling onto each other. You’ll hardly notice the extra time it takes to heat up items separately because of how fast microwaves work. A good practice is to wipe down the microwave after each use if it is being shared with gluten-containing foods. Remains of previously microwaved foods could splatter onto your gluten-free items. Invest in an affordable, microwave-safe food cover to use exclusively with your gluten-free food items.
Outdoor grills can be an option for meal preparation, usually depending on the weather and where you live. Thoroughly clean surfaces on grills used for both gluten-free and non-gluten-free foods. For added food safety, consider purchasing an extra set of grill grates to use exclusively for gluten-free grilling. A quick fix is to place your gluten-free items on tin foil. Bring your own foil when going over to someone else’s place for a barbeque. Gluten cannot be “burned” off by high temperature but can be removed by a thorough cleaning with soap, water, and a good metal grill scrubber. Make sure to thoroughly clean grill utensils and grill scrubber, too.
Traditional pizza stones are porous and could harbor gluten after using it for baking non-gluten-free pizza. Do not use the same pizza stone for both conventional and gluten-free pizza-making or place your gluten-free pizza on parchment paper if you do. If you’re a big fan of pizza, treat yourself to your own dedicated gluten-free pizza stone.
Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food being “fried.” The fan motion that circulates air could blow particles of previously cooked, gluten-containing food onto gluten-free food being cooked. Don’t use the same air fryer for gluten-free and gluten-containing cooking.
Use a dedicated gluten-free bread machine. Do not bake both gluten-free and gluten-containing breads using the same machine. Having two separate bread machines is the safest approach.
The following items have removable components you can put in a dishwasher or thoroughly wash in the sink. They also come with parts, like stands and bases with electrical parts, that cannot be immersed in water. Be sure that no bits of gluten-containing foods remain on non-washable appliance parts to avoid inadvertently getting them into your gluten-free food. Wipe down all parts thoroughly before using with gluten-free foods. Take care to avoid cross-contact between the gluten-free food you are preparing and the surfaces.
Crock Pot or Instant Pot
Treat these pots with multiple components the same way you would any cooking vessel: Clean thoroughly between using with non-gluten-free and gluten-free items.
Food Processor, Blender, Stand Mixer
Thoroughly wash all components that can come into contact with your food after every use.
Something you may be wondering about that isn’t an appliance but is a common item used in cooking is the non-stick pan. Non-stick surfaces can get scratched and develop grooves where gluten could remain. The safest approach is to not share non-stick cooking appliances or tools between gluten-free and non-gluten-free items.
Note: For general food safety, dispose of scratched non-stick cookware since the surface coating could be ingested.
Yes, there could be gluten on your kitchen appliances, but with proper attention and care, your kitchen can be made safer for living gluten-free.
For more information, see our articles Gluten in Your Food: Cross-Contact or Cross-Contamination? and 7 Tips for Avoiding Gluten Cross-Contact at Home.
The information on this website is for educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare team when considering this information.
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