Appliances: Risk of Cross-Contamination?
Published January 15, 2020
Kitchen appliances exist to make cooking and food preparation better: quicker, easier, sometimes healthier, and often tastier. Do they need to raise any red flags regarding gluten cross-contamination?
Let’s take a look:
Have you ever wondered if it is safe to wash plates that have had both gluten-free (GF) and gluten-containing foods on them, in the same load? As long as you are using a functional dishwasher that effectively removes food particles and cleans thoroughly, this is fine.
When you can, cook gluten-free and gluten-containing items separately. If this isn’t possible, position the gluten-free items on the higher rack, so that if any crumbs or bits of gluten-containing food escape from the non-GF item, they won’t fall onto your gluten-free food. Cover the gluten-free items if possible, even when they’re on top, for extra safety.
Convection ovens blow air throughout the oven, from a fan located in the back of the oven. So, wheat dust/food particles could be blown about and cause cross-contamination. Do not cook gluten-free and gluten-containing items at the same time (if absolutely necessary, cover the gluten-free item). Even when your gluten-free item is the only thing in the oven, always cover it, since gluten-containing wheat dust/food particles from previous oven sessions may be blown onto the gluten-free food by the convection fan.
It is safe for gluten-free members of the household to share the same microwave with those who do eat gluten, but don’t heat items up together. Because microwave ovens are generally quite small, there could be a significant risk of items spilling onto each other. Microwaves do quick work, so you’ll hardly notice the extra time it takes to heat up items separately. It is also good practice to wipe down the microwave after each use if it is being shared with gluten-containing foods since remains of previously splattered foods could remain and then splatter onto your gluten-free items.
As temperatures ramp up and days get longer, grills are likely to take on a more central role in our meal preparation. On grills which are used for both gluten-free and non-gluten-free foods, surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned before cooking gluten-free items. One alternate solution is to consider purchasing an extra set of grill grates to use exclusively for gluten-free grilling. Another quick fix is to place your GF items on tin foil (this is also a good trick to use when going over to your neighbor’s for a BBQ). Contrary to some popular beliefs, gluten cannot be “burned” off by high temperature.
Traditional pizza stones are porous, so could harbor gluten from use with non-GF pizzas. Ideally, don’t share, or be sure to place your GF pizza on parchment paper if you do. if you’re a big pizza fan, 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 which circulates air could blow particles of previously cooked (gluten-containing) food around and onto gluten-free food being cooked. An air fryer should not be shared between gluten-free and gluten-containing cooking.
This is a place where we don’t recommend sharing. Having a dedicated gluten-free bread machine is the safest approach.
The following items have removable components, which can be put in a dishwasher or thoroughly washed in the sink, as well as other parts (stands, bases, etc.) that cannot. Be sure that no bits of gluten-containing foods have remained on non-washable parts in such a way that they may get wiped into, or fall into your gluten-free food. Wipe down surfaces thoroughly before use with gluten-free foods, and take care to avoid cross-contact between the gluten-free food you are preparing and these surfaces.
Crock pot or instant pot
Treat the same way you would any cooking vessel: clean thoroughly between use with non gluten-free and gluten-free items.
Food processor, Blender, Stand Mixer Thoroughly wash all components that will come in contact with your food, between use with gluten-free and non-gluten-free foods.
Not an appliance, but something you may be wondering about: non-stick pans. Non-stick surfaces can get scratched and develop grooves where gluten could remain. Don’t share between gluten-free and non-gluten-free items.
(Note: it is generally advisable to dispose of scratched non-stick cookware, since surface coating could be ingested.)