Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Sponsored: What is "cross-contact"?

Sponsored: What is "cross-contact"?

A friend of mine has celiac disease and must be careful of “cross contact.” What does that mean?

When you have celiac disease (an autoimmune disease) any amount of gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye) can make you very ill. Individuals with celiac disease must make sure they don’t come into contact with gluten-containing products and inadvertently ingest them. When someone is newly diagnosed with celiac disease they are often quickly made aware of gluten-free foods, such as the many items tagged with brown and white “gluten-free” tags that we have at Ingles, but preparing food at home and eating out can be a challenge. 

When eating at home, if others in the household are continuing to eat gluten-containing foods, then surfaces and items like countertops, toasters, oven racks, cleaning rags, condiments and cutting boards can come in contact with gluten and the person with celiac disease will then experience cross-contact and could become sick.

When dining out, someone with celiac disease will need to be very careful and cautious to make sure the restaurant is taking precautions to separate gluten-free and gluten-containing foods. Some restaurants are not able to do this. Typical areas of hazard include: fryers, cutting boards, utensils, pizza stones, preparation areas.

For more information on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet I recommend Shelley Case’s book The Gluten Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. Also visit for more helpful information on “hot spots” for cross-contact.

Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

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