Hoping to be of help to all those living gluten free in the United Arab Emirates – نأمل أن نكون عوناً لكل من يعيش حياته خالية من الجلوتين في دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة
Its important that we all learn a little bit about cross contamination. Cross contamination occurs when a gluten free food comes in to contact with gluten. This could happen in the factory, in the shop, or at home.
If you handle foods containing gluten, its important to wash your hands before handling the gluten free food. Separate utensils, chopping boards and culinders should also be used. Non stick Pans can also soak up gluten so you should have one dedicated gluten free pan, or use stainless steel. You can not use the same spoon to stir pasta containing gluten and then stir your gluten free pasta. Just rinsing the spoon after is also not enough. All gluten free food should be touched only by clean utensils that have not touched gluten before. If your house is mixed (gluten and gluten free items in the same kitchen) then label your gluten free equipment so that there is no confusion. If bread with gluten is cut on your ‘gluten free chopping board’, then that chopping board would no longer be safe for Celiacs. Plastic containers that are old / scratched can also soak up gluten, so buy dedicated gluten free ones in a different colour. Don’t wash your gluten things and gluten free things in the same dishwasher. Hand wash your gluten free things.
Separate cloths and washing up equipment is also nessasary. If you wipe up breadcrumbs with a cloth and then wipe the kitchen counter, then the kitchen counter is contaminated with gluten. If possible, have a gluten free counter and try to colour code your cloths. We used red for danger (gluten) and blue for safe (gluten free) before we made the house entirely gluten free.
Read this blog post here for more on how we made the whole house gluten free 🙂 If you still bake using gluten flour, then you should remove all the gluten free items from your kitchen before and then clean the kitchen properly after. Many Celiacs get reactions to breathing gluten dust (while many are perfectly fine). If someone has a reaction to the dust, then probably better to not to do any gluten baking at home. Gluten Dust can stay in the air for 10-12 hours!
In a restaurant pretty much the same rules as above should be adhered too. Read more in the ‘where to eat’ section.
If you buy a fresh gluten free baked item, please keep in mind that there are no regulations or testing here in the UAE to determine if a gluten free goods is indeed gluten free. Many items have probably been made in kitchens containing gluten and if tested would probably not qualify as gluten free in most other countries. Ask questions, make sure the person baking for you knows about cross contamination and which items are safe to use. If something looks to good to be true then investigate, because it probably is!
A couple of Pizza places in Dubai now offer gluten free pizza, but please be aware that these pizzas (so far) are being made in a gluten environment using the same ovens and equipment. Same goes for some of the places making cakes and cupcakes. Providing a gluten free item is easy, providing one that really is gluten free is a little bit harder. Get all the information you can before deciding whether something is safe to eat or not. You be the judge.
Please use our Facebook page to ask any questions you might have.
March 2013, Edit to add, laws are now being put in to place dealing with allergens. We will keep on eye on how things develop as it is implemented and update this page accordingly once it has been done. More on the new rules can be found in this article by the National (Opens in new window).
Please note that the above is information taken from my own experiences and information readily available in most media. Its important to consult with a doctor in any matter regarding your health.