Celiac Support Association

Tips for Celiac Kitchen Safety

A)   Always offer foods that are free of  Wheat, Barley, Rye and common Oats -- their crosses and derivatives (WBRO)
Many foods included in a lunch menu are always naturally free of WBRO. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh salads (without croutons or dressings)
  • Un-breaded meats, fish or poultry
  • Potato or cornstarch-thickened sauces and gravies

B)   Be aware of hidden WBRO in processed foods
In many food items, the presence of WBRO is obvious, such as bread products, cookies, cakes, oatmeal, etc. In most cases, however, a derivative of one of the grains is hidden in a product under an ingredient name such as:

  • Artificial coloring
  • Artificial flavoring
  • Caramel coloring
  • Cereal filler
  • Distilled vinegar from unspecified grains  
  • Emulsifiers
  • Food starch
  • Gums
  • Malt (flavoring and extract) unless from corn
  • Modified food starch 
  • Natural flavorings
  • Stabilizers
  • Imitation vanilla & other extracts with grain alcohol 
  • Vinegar flavored with barley malt


When a product might contain WBRO, but the ingredient sources are not noted on the label, the only risk free choice is to avoid using that product.  Wheat when present is required to be listed on the food label.
                                                                 “When in doubt – leave it out!”

Common lunch menu items to be questioned include (but are not limited to):
  • Pre-coated foods such as hamburger, sausage patties and frozen french-fries
  • Pre-packaged side dishes and casseroles
  • Bouillon and canned soups
  • Sauces, au jus, roux
  • Soy or steak sauces, marinades and dressings
  • Additives, flavorings and malt

It is best to contact the food manufacturer for a complete list of ingredients and their sources if suspicious regarding a particular product.
Other grain flours that must be avoided include: triticale, spelt, kamut, and mir. For more information on grains that are acceptable and not acceptable, visit www.csaceliacs.org.

C)   Clean utensils, gloves, work surfaces, etc. are imperative
In order to eliminate possible cross contamination, it is best, and often easiest, to use separate utensils and preparation surfaces when cooking for a person with celiac disease. For example, if a knife is used to cut a piece of bread and then is used to cut an apple, without being thoroughly cleaned in between, the student with celiac disease should not eat the apple. The residue left on the knife from the bread is enough to cause him/her a problem.

Sometimes it is easier and faster to simply cover a work surface with waxed paper or other clean material before preparing a WBRO-free food selection.

Lunchroom supervisors might need to remind the child not to swap food or touch other foods which could cross-contaminate his or her meal. It is also important that table surfaces are clear of crumbs or other residue from WBRO.

For more information on food preparation and service for those with celiac disease, contact us.

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