Classroom Activities and Celiac Disease

Question:

I teach elementary school and one of the children in my class has celiac disease.  My understanding is that the child must not consume the wheat, barley, rye, etc.  My question is, if I do a skills station using a food product such as counting goldfish crackers, if the child touches or is near them but never consumes a cracker can they become ill?

Answer:

You are correct that the treatment of celiac disease is to avoid ingestion of all gluten-containing products, including wheat, barley and rye. The risk of your student being exposed to gluten would occur if they were to eat the gluten-containing cracker or touch it, then put their hand or fingers in their mouth. One option is to have the student wash their hands thoroughly immediately after handling the product. The safest option would be to use only gluten-free food items such as Chex or gluten-free rice crackers for your skills stations.

Sincerely,

Center for Celiac Disease at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

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