Monday, July 26, 2010

Cleaning off gluten

Making sure gluten from something like this is wiped from the face of the earth.
Or at least the face of our kitchens.

Some facts, as I understand them.

1. Some proteins are more stable than others. This is why peanuts - with a stable protein - will still cause an allergic reaction after cooking. The allergen (protein) doesn't get destroyed much during exposure to the levels of heat we use.

2. Gluten is a storage protein, and the part of it that Celiacs react to is oh, so stable. Stupid stable proteins (I think I want a lot less stability, like right on the verge of a gluten divorce.).

3. Since these proteins are stable, they laugh in the face of cooking.

What does this mean?
It means that when we are trying to clean off gluten, it's a pain in the behind. It also means that since it's a stable protein, like the stable protein in peanuts, using information from a Johns Hopkins Study on cleaning and peanut allergens is probably as close to a cleaning guide as we celiacs are going to get for a while (We don't have a study of our own. Darn it).

The quick rundown on cleaning up peanut allergens

  • Hand cleaning - Hand wipes, liquid soap, and bar soap cleaned hands well. Water left a small residue. Hand sanitzer left a small residue on half the cases.
  • Table cleaning - Plain water, Formula 409 cleaner, Lysol sanitizing wipes and Target brand cleaner with bleach cleaned tables well. Dishwashing liquid left a small residue in a little less than half the cases.
  • Dish cleaning - Nothing was used to wash dishes, because obviously the researchers aren't housewives who have to wash about five trillion times more dishes than they do table-tops.

Details about the study that we should consider

1. How did people wash their hands? Was there a set time and way for each person to wash their hands, or did each person wash their hands in their own way? This could affect what the results were. What kind of liquid soap was used? For Celiacs, some of this stuff is NOT gluten free, so that would have been nice to know.

2. Same question for tables: a standard way to clean, or people just cleaned any way they wanted?

3. Hand soap vs. dishwashing soap. Was the dishwashing soap washed off, or was the table cleaned with soapy water where soap residue remained behind? Considering that when we wash our hands, we rinse off all residue, it makes me wonder if rinsing might explain the differing results between hand washing and table washing, when it comes to soap. Or dishwashing soap is just a sad shadow of the studlier hand soap.

What this means for Celiacs
It's pretty much up to us to decide how much this applies to our situation. I think the main thing to note for us is that hand sanitizer wasn't a reliable way to get a protein cleaned off our hands.

I also think we have an issue that the peanut allergic folks don't: many cleansers and soaps have gluten. I'm assuming some wipes might as well, but I've never checked. However, as an informative tidbit on what cleaners are gluten free, a MikeM at GlutenZap tested quite a few products with the EZ Gluten testing strips (sensitive to 10ppm) in June 2009, and the following three cleaners tested negative for gluten.

  • 409
  • Mr. Clean Multi-Surface Cleaner
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (brand not listed)

He didn't list cleaners that might have failed, if any did. His list is worth checking out for the other products he tested as well, for those interested: MikeM's list. Although as usual, ingredients change, processing changes, so be careful out there.

Have fun cleaning the castle!

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