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Risks of Cross-Contamination in Restaurants


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How serious is the risk of cross-contamination in a restaurant in terms of getting a celiac reaction?  Is contaminated oil or a griddle used to make pancakes and eggs (like at a diner) harmful to a celiac?




Dear Cecilia,

Great question, and my short response, is that, yes, the risk of cross-contamination from dining out at a restaurant, in someone else’s home, or even in your own home, should be taken very seriously, as the consequences can be very harmful for someone with celiac disease, even if no immediate symptoms are felt.

And, to answer your question further about whether or not contaminated oil on a griddle is harmful to someone with celiac disease, the answer is yes.

I know this may sound discouraging, but there are many great resources available to help ensure you have a safe restaurant experience.

The NFCA’s  “Getting Started” guide is a great place to find guidelines for safely dining out with celiac disease, and I also like the resources, books, and dining out cards available through Triumph Dining.

I understand that the learning curve towards safely eating gluten-free outside the home is a steep one, but it is very important that cross contamination issues be taken seriously, as the long term effects of ingesting even very small amount of gluten could be quite serious in terms of your health.

By reviewing the above resources, and with practice dining out, I have no doubt you will be able to safely enjoy eating out at restaurants again!

In good health,

EA Stewart. MBA, RD

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