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Cross Contact vs Cross Contamination: Understanding the Difference for Gluten Free Living

Updated: Jul 6

The terms 'cross contact' and 'cross contamination' are frequently misused interchangeably. I've been guilty of this for many years as 'cross contamination' is widely used here in Australia when talking about gluten, however, it's incorrect terminology.

This can create confusion, especially in the context of gluten exposure. If you live a gluten free lifestyle, due to Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, then understanding the difference can play a part in you avoiding getting glutened.

'Cross contact' refers to the potential transfer of gluten into our food. This can happen in a variety of ways, from shared kitchen appliances to improper cleaning practices in restaurants. For example, if you share a toaster with others who consume gluten, your gluten free bread could potentially come into contact with gluten particles, leading to cross contact.

To prevent this, it's recommended to have a separate toaster or use toaster bags. Other everyday examples include sharing condiments or chopping boards with those who consume gluten. Ensuring these items are strictly used for gluten free foods can drastically reduce the risk of cross contact.

In contrast, 'cross contamination' is more associated with bacterial transmission. This can occur, for example, when raw meat is prepared on a chopping board, and then another food item is prepared on the same board without adequate cleaning.

Therefore, while cross contact refers to the potential for gluten to sneak into our food, cross contamination typically refers to the passing of bacteria from one food to another. The confusion between these two terms can create challenges when dining out or communicating with chefs and waitstaff about food preparation practices.

This is why it's crucial to use the correct terminology when discussing food preparation and dining practices, particularly when living with Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Doing so will likely result in more accurate responses from restaurant staff and chefs. It will also ensure your needs are understood, contributing to a safer and more enjoyable dining experience.

When talking about Cross Contact vs Cross Contamination: Understanding the difference between the two can potentially make or break whether a chef or waitstaff completes your order correctly.

In conclusion, understanding the differences between 'cross contact' and 'cross contamination' can help create a safer environment for those of us with a medical need to eat gluten free food safely. By understanding and correctly using these terms, we can communicate more effectively, ensure our needs are met, and reduce the risk of accidental gluten exposure.

To reduce your risks of accidental gluten exposure even more, be sure to check out Ultimate Celiac System here.

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