Gluten Cross-Contamination

I write this as a reference for those new to the gluten-free diet, but especially for those who have high intolerances to gluten, such as those with celiac disease and allergies to wheat.Ā Gluten cross-contamination refers to food that has come in contact with gluten (wheat, rye and barley).Ā However, oats are often listed as a glutenous product, though they are not when they 100% oats, because they often contain high amounts gluten.


Crops are rotated (planted elsewhere in the field to prevent the absorption of the same minerals in the earth, or there may be none left to absorb).Ā Farmers also rotate crops to avoid attracting the same pests.Ā Oats are very easy to grow, therefore may be rotated with wheat, barley, or even corn or soy. The oats end up absorbing some of the grains from previous seasons.

Cross contamination may occur several ways:


  • Rotation of crops;
  • Nearby gluten crops (wind blowing it over the non-gluten crops);
  • Transportation of the product in unclean trucksĀ (grains in trucks which have previously transported glutenous grains); and
  • Manufacturing facilities that use gluten (wheat, barley and rye on the assembly line) without cleaning their equipment properly or have glutenĀ flour flying all around from another machine.

With the above stated, when purchasing an item that is naturally gluten-free, such as corn meal, oats, guar gum, etc. be certain to check with the manufacture to ensure their facility is taking the utmost precautions to avoid cross-contamination and are testing their products for the amount of cross-contamination. The FDA’s current proposed amount of gluten is less than 20ppm (parts per million). Though the FDA is reevaluating the ppm. You may find products with less, though.

The GFCO (Gluten-Free Certification Organization) “assures that the product contains less than 10-ppm gluten (5-ppm gliadin)”. (Gliadins are one of two proteins found in gluten and is the worst offender. The other is glutenins.)

If you see theĀ CSA (Celiac Sprue Association) logo you can be sure the product has testedĀ below 5-ppm gluten.

Celiac Sprue Association logo

Photo Credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos – Used with permission.

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