A gluten-free (GF) diet is the primary treatment for celiac disease
(CD). Gluten is used in schools, particularly in early childhood, art, and home-economics classrooms. This study aimed to measure gluten transfer from school
supplies to GF foods that a child with CD may eat. Also, to measure efficacy of washing techniques to remove gluten from hands and tables.
Five experiments measured potential gluten cross-contact
in classrooms: Play-Doh (n = 30); baking project (n = 30); paper mâché (n = 10); dry pasta in sensory table (n = 10); cooked pasta in sensory table (n = 10). Thirty participants ages 2 to 18 were enrolled. Following activities, gluten levels were measured on separate slices of GF bread rubbed on participant's hands and table surfaces. Participants were assigned one of three handwashing methods (soap and water, water alone, or wet wipe). Repeat gluten transfer measurements were taken from hands and tables. Gluten measurements made using R-Biopharm R7001 R5-ELISA Sandwich assay.
Paper mâché, cooked pasta in sensory tables, and baking project resulted in rates of gluten transfer far greater than the 20 ppm threshold set by Codex Alimentarius Commission. However, Play-Doh and dry pasta resulted in few gluten transfers to GF bread >20 ppm. Soap and water was consistently the most effective method for removing gluten, although other methods proved as effective in certain scenarios.
The potential for gluten exposure at school
is high for some materials and low for others. For high-risk materials, schools should provide GF supplies and have a robust strategy to prevent gluten cross-contact