Gluten is not naturally in any meat. Even grain-fed beef is gluten free, because the gluten protein is broken down during digestion and no longer is recognized by the body as gluten.
But then I saw this sign hanging in the meat section of our local grocery store:
Even If Not Listed On Labels,
Please Be Advised That Our Products
May Have Come In Contact With These Ingredients.
Gluten-Free Shopping in the Grocery Store
I don’t know why, but I was surprised to see the sign. And maybe it was because part of me is always “on guard” so to speak – always on gluten and allergen patrol. And I had even recently began to wonder whether I needed to be questioning my meats, and even my vegetables for that matter. Two categories of foods I had always deemed as safe before now.
To avoid cross-contamination when buying meat at the grocery store, I try to choose prepackaged meats. I found some organic beef and chicken at Costco that is simply wrapped in plastic. I feel safest with meat sealed in just plastic packaging.
Buying Gluten-Free Meat from the Meat Display Counter
Buying unpackaged meat fresh from the meat display counter in the meat department of your local store can often be a gamble because there is a much higher risk of cross-contamination. In today’s world where everyone wants everything quick and premade, the meat department now has prepared meats, stuffed or breaded with this to that, alongside the usual plain, undressed, unprepared meat cuts.
One time I was at the meat counter and I had just purchased some chicken breasts when I noticed that some marinade from the shelf of chicken breasts above was dripping down onto the plain chicken breasts. I decided then it was best not to take the chance anymore. Another issue with buying food from the meat display counters is that if they also sell items in that counter that contain gluten the fans that circulate the cool air in these refrigerated chambers may also inadvertently blow bits of gluten and other allergens onto the foods you may be purchasing.
How To Avoid Cross-Contamination of Your Meat at the Grocery Store
Here are a few more possible ways to avoid having your meat cross-contaminated:
- Find a meat department in a grocery store or a butcher shop that does not use gluten or allergens (or one that just cuts meat and doesn’t prepare other specialty foods)
- Visit your local farmer’s market (if this option fits into your food budget) purchase meat directly from the farms or search online for local farmers and buy directly from the farmer
- Purchase gluten-free meat from online markets and stores
My husband’s a farmer and I’m always telling him someday we’ll have our own farm and I’ll know where all the food has come from and then maybe I can be assured that it is free of any gluten or allergens.
Also, be sure to read my blog post about meat glue and the whether or not food prepared with meat glue is safe for celiacs. (I can’t believe I really have to post about something as odd sounding as “meat glue”.)
Do you ever worry about foods like meats and vegetables? How do you try to avoid cross-contamination?