Learning to live gluten-free often means questioning the safety of foods and products you’ve been using for years. Sometimes this can get complicated, but with fruit, it’s easy because all fruit is naturally gluten-free. Whether we’re talking about berries, citrus, melons, or stone fruit, they are all perfectly safe for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Even tomatoes, which we often consider a vegetable, are naturally gluten-free.
But while fruit itself is always safe for you to eat, there are a few things you’ll need to be careful of in terms of presentation, storage, and packaging to ensure you don’t face any gluten-risk from cross-contamination.
Watch Out for Hidden Gluten and Cross-Contamination Risks
Pre-sliced fruit can be a particular contamination risk. Whether served at a restaurant, in a home, or purchased pre-packaged in a supermarket, there is always the possibility that this fruit has come into contact with gluten, usually because of cross-contamination in a food preparation area or because the knife used to slice the fruit was also used on baked goods. When preparing fruit at home, remember to always use utensils that have been washed in hot water if it previously touched gluten-containing ingredients. If other people in your home continue to eat gluten, designate and label specific utensils as "gluten-free only".
At special events, fruit is often served on platters with both cheese and crackers. It’s particularly important to watch for cross contamination here. If you’re avoiding gluten due to celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities, eating fruit from the same plate as items that contain gluten is never safe. Crumbs migrate too easily, especially if multiple people are serving themselves from that platter.
Avoid Getting Glutened Accidentally
- Fruit cut with knives that have touched gluten
- Fruit presented on platters with crackers or other gluten-containing products
- Fruit stored in unwashed containers that have previously stored gluten
- Hidden granola in fruit salads and parfaits
- Hidden cake in parfaits and other fruit and cream desserts
- Fruit salads, yogurt and fruit parfaits, and similar dishes may also pose risk as granola, filled with gluten-containing grains, can often be an element in these servings – even if it’s not immediately obvious.
- Dessert parfaits that look like fruit and fresh whip cream are safe – if those are the only included ingredients. But be careful! There’s often a hidden layer of sponge cake lurking in dessert parfaits.
What Fruit is Gluten-Free?
* A wheat berry is NOT a fruit and contains gluten. People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities need to avoid wheat berries and other parts of the wheat plant.
Fruit is a healthy, fun, gluten-free snack that won’t require you to read a label or check the internet for safety guidelines. However, remember to always think about how that fruit has been prepared and what opportunities for cross contamination may have existed before that fruit got to you. Even whole, fresh fruits may have been stored in bins that once contained gluten-based products, so be sure to always wash your fruit before you eat it.
With a few simple precautions, fruit can be one of your best on-the-go snack options as a person with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity. It’s also tasty, healthy, and a great part of a balanced gluten-free diet.
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