6 Foods to Watch at a BBQ (or You'd think they'd be gluten-free and they're not!)

July 3, 2012

I just finished e-mailing with someone recently diagnosed with celiac disease. She's a little nervous about tomorrow because the Fourth of July party she's attending is her first party since having to go gluten-free.

We talked A LOT about cross contact. Why? Well, many traditional July 4th foods that should be gluten-free might not be thanks to gluten "moving" from one to dish to another. Now gluten doesn't move on it's own. (Thank God. Can you even imagine that? HORROR!) Rather it "moves" when someone uses the same cutting board that just had the hamburger buns on to cut the watermelon. It "moves" when someone scoops a serving of pasta salad and then uses the same spoon to serve potato salad.

Here's the "watch list" I sent her. I also included some foods that you'd think would be gluten-free but might not be thanks to ingredients like soy sauce or barley.


  1. Burgers
    As long as the burger is made from pure ground beef (or turkey), it's gluten-free. Be sure to ask your host if they've added any breadcrumbs (some people do!) to the burger meat. Also ask where the burgers will be cooked. Will they share the grill with non-gluten-free foods, like a steak with a soy sauce marinade or toasting gluten burger buns? If the grill only contains gluten-free foods, you're fine. If not, ask that your burger be grilled on a piece of aluminum foil. And don't forget to ask that a separate spatula be used to move your burger off the grill.

  2. Hot Dogs
    Read the package on this item. Many hot dogs are now gluten-free but you do want to read the package before chowing. And, as with burgers, if non-gluten-free foods are being grilled, ask that your hot dog be cooked on foil to prevent cross-contact.

  3. Streak and Ribs
    Check the marinades! Soy sauce pops up in many steak and rib marinades. Double and triple check that no gluten containing soy sauce or other gluten ingredients were used to marinate the meat.

  4. Potato Salad
  5. I've yet to see a recipe that contains gluten, although I don't doubt they're out there! First, check the ingredients. Then, see how it's being served. This is another place where cross-contact can occur. And it can get you in two ways: 
         1. Serving spoons moving from a gluten dish, like pasta salad, to the potato salad. 
         2. The potato salad's serving spoon touching people's hot dog or hamburger rolls as           they serve themselves.

    For this one, ask to be served before everyone else digs in. Or skip it.

  6. Watermelon, Cherries, Strawberries, Blueberries. 
  7. Naturally gluten-free, fruits are something I always look for on a dessert table. But be aware of any serving spoons going from a gluten food into the gluten-free fruit bowl.

  8. Iced Tea
    This list isn't here to freak you out! Most iced teas are gluten-free! BUT....if you come across a "fancy" iced tea, it's a good idea to double check. Some non-black teas aren't gluten-free. They could contain barley.

How do you stay safe at cookouts? What else would you add to the list?

Talk to you soon! 


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