Is a shared toaster safe for those with celiac disease?

is a shared toaster gluten free?

What? A Gluten Dude blog post??? Yeah…sarcasm duly noted and warranted. While I have still been an active advocate on social media, my blogging has been sh*t. Time and focus have been an issue the past year for various reasons. But I’m back…and hopefully on a much more regular basis. Cause lord knows, I still have a lot to say. Let’s kick it back off with a topic I’ve wanted to post about for some time: the dreaded shared toaster.

When I was diagnosed with celiac disease back in (thinking…thinking) 2008, one of the first things Mrs. Dude did was get me a new toaster strictly for my use. The Dudettes were young, not gluten-free and lived on bagels. (Fast forward 14 years, the Dudettes are in their twenties, both gluten-free and haven’t touched a regular bagel in years.) Anyway, there was never a discussion about whether a shared toaster was safe. You ever empty out a toaster and see all the crumbs that come out? Pretty gross and gluteny. Not safe and even if you got lucky and somehow avoided cross-contamination, why the heck would you risk it? Nuff said. Or so I thought.

There was a study done in 2019 to quantify the risk of shared appliances and utensils in the kitchen. Here are the details and results, taken from the Boston Children’s Hospital website:

The study findings, published in Gastroenterology in January 2020, revealed that using the same toaster for both gluten and gluten-free bread may not pose significant risk for people with Celiac disease. To come to this conclusion, the authors toasted 40 gluten-free slices and found that the gluten levels remained below 20 ppm despite having crumbs in the toaster from gluten-containing bread. Other highlights from this study included that people should never eat foods or use utensils with visible contamination from gluten-containing foods.

If you are a bit confused, join the club. 40 slices is hardly a large enough sample size. And the other highlight says that no matter the test results, if you see gluten-containing foods on a toaster (i.e. crumbs), you should not use it.

Now I don’t want to knock the experiment or the folks behind it. I’m all for facts that can limit the paranoia that is out there that “gluten is everywhere and in everything.” It isn’t and it’s not. And they fully admit it was too small a sample size and they did not test for hydrolyzed gluten. But that did not stop people from celebrating that “Yay…I can use a shared toaster now!” That’s not what the test proved but that’s the context that a lot of people took out of it.

Which leads me to yesterday, when I saw an influencer on IG Reels telling her community of over 50,000 people that a shared toaster should be ok. And she was giving away a free toaster. And then at the end of the video she says a dedicated toaster is still probably your best bet. Confused again? Yeah…I’m still in that club too.

So here’s the deal: CAN you use a shared toaster and not get glutened? Maybe. SHOULD you though? Absolutely freaking not. Remember…one hit is all it takes to set off the autoimmune response. Is a shared toaster worth that risk? I’ll leave that up to you.

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6 thoughts on “Is a shared toaster safe for those with celiac disease?”

  1. I agree with you! At the price of a toaster, it’s not worth putting our health at risk. I’m extremely sensitive and react quickly but even if I didn’t react it still causes harm. We need to be careful! 💝🥰

  2. My Celiac husband gets glutened if he uses my designated and identified GF toaster where I make 2 pieces of toast 350 days a year. That is 700 pieces of GLUTEN bread making crumbs in my toaster. He has his own toaster. I have never asked our local restaurant if they have a dedicated gluten-free appliance for making gluten-free toast but he has not had any problems.

  3. I would definitely never share toasters, especially from one study. This is the sort of thing they need to repeat over more experiments and see if it pans out, but just thinking it through logically, I am skeptical of the study’s result. TheGlutenDude points out the sample size seems kind of small, but also there are so many variables that sample size couldn’t account for: the type of bread being used (some breads stick to surfaces more than others), the type of toaster being used, etc. Also what happens when something burns in the toaster and you have remnants stuck on the coils that all the bread come into contact with. It just seems too high risk to me. I also do wonder how the bread was tested after for trace amounts of gluten (did they scour every slice of bread all over its surface or did they trust in one small piece of the bread as a sufficient sample: if only one small are had cross contamination, that might not come up if they are limiting where they take samples from but will come up for a celiac eating that bread).

  4. You’d struggle to find a toaster more expensive than $20. There’s no excuse for sharing one. Actually we should educate goodwill about why they should always accept brand new toasters and only brand new toasters. And as a community, we should buy a toaster for our local goodwill once a year.

    There’s toaster protection pockets or you can make one from parchment paper but imo, just use a new toaster.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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