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gluten, dairy, egg & soy free

I’m so happy you are here! I hope to create a place for you to find lots of information about food allergies, as well as, lots of goodies to help you not only eat better, but more affordably! Please feel free to share all of your own tips, tricks, and recipes too! Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again very soon! You can read more about my allergy story here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Healthy Crumbs Week: Feedback Friday: How Do I Avoid Cross-Contamination at Home?

Feedback Friday gives me a chance to respond to you, my readers. Topics will be based on your comments, questions, and thought you are interested in discussing. Each week I will pick a reader to respond to in this post. These topics are up to you, my readers, so start commenting on what you would like to hear about! Leave a comment, question, or suggestion on the blog, our Facebook Fan Page, or email me, and your response might be picked to be our Healthy Crumb: Feedback Friday of the month!
Healthy Crumb; Feedback Friday: How Can I Avoid Cross-Contamination at Home?
One question that comes up a lot among our readers is, "how do I avoid cross contamination in my kitchen?"  Many people, as careful as they are, still ingest allergens by cross contamination, whether it's at a restaurant or even in their own homes. Let's face it, it is hard when one person is eating allergen free foods and other individuals in your household are not. Because crumbs go everywhere, it can be hard to prevent cross contamination. However, there are a few tips and guidelines you can follow to help prevent cross contamination in your kitchen. 

  • No sharing, no double dipping, and always squeeze if possible! Don't share, even for items that are naturally allergen free. This includes common condiments like peanut butter, jam, butter, and mayo; if the spreading knife has touched it, it's contaminated. When making toast and sandwiches these items can easily become contaminated with gluten, dairy, or other allergens via a contaminated knife. Try marking and using specific containers for "allergen free" foods or designating parts of your pantry and refrigerator to be allergen free zones. Knowing what they are putting their serving utensils into will help make sure allergen eating family members don't accidentally contaminate your food. Also, if available, buy squeeze bottles. This helps prevent condiments like ketchup, mustard, relish, and mayo from getting any allergens in the bottles.
  • No sharing goes for some appliances too! If you are gluten sensitive, have your own separate toaster. I know this sounds extreme, but think of all those little crumbs that fall into the toaster and hardly ever get cleaned out! Besides, can you really get them all out even if you clean it after every use; no!  Another option is to use a toaster oven where the rack can be removed and washed after each use. Or have both; gluten bread only goes in the toaster and gluten free foods only go into the toaster oven. 
  • Be a label freak and keep it separate! Store all allergen free products in separate labeled containers. You can label them "allergen free" or buy brightly colored stickers and put them on everything that is, and should remain, allergen free. In addition, storing all allergen free foods in a separate place in the cupboard or pantry and refrigerator helps prevent accidental cross contamination. For dried goods, like flours and cooking aids, store them on the upper shelves of the pantry or cupboard, always above the allergen containing products, to prevent flour dust and crumbs from falling into or onto the packages and containers of allergen free items. 
  • Keeping things separate goes for utensils too!  Have your own set of utensils and other items for allergen free baking and cooking. This includes things like wooden utensils, cutting boards, colanders, and sifters; anything that can be hard to get completely clean. In some homes, if you are the one who does most of the cooking for the family, most everything you eat is probably allergen free anyways, so this separation issue may not be as difficult to maintain as it might be in other households. 
  • Scrub, scrub, and scrub some more! Always make sure pots, utensils, and anything that is used for food storage and preparation are thoroughly scrubbed before bringing them into contact with allergen free foods. (No using the same fork or utensil to stir gluten containing pasta and gluten free pasta when they are being cooked at the same time!) Also, always make sure the counter space used to prepare allergen free foods has been freshly scrubbed down to ensure it is free from crumbs or flour dust. Be sure to use a fresh sponge, cloth, or towel when cleaning up, otherwise, you could just be spreading the allergen around instead of cleaning it up! One good tip is to cook the allergen free item first before preparing allergen containing foods. This way the allergen free foods are less likely to get contaminated. 
By following these tips and guidelines you can help prevent cross contamination in your kitchen!  Do you have other suggestions or unique routines you follow to prevent cross contamination from happening in your kitchen?  If so, please feel free to share them with your fellow readers!

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