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Can you be glutened from a kiss? 💋

What you need to know about the cross-contamination risks of kissing someone and ways to minimise the transfer of gluten particles

We’ve all read enough Disney stories to know what happens when you kiss a frog, but what about when you kiss someone who’s just consumed gluten? In the spirit of Valentine’s week and all things love, let’s discuss whether it is in fact possible to be glutened by a kiss.

Table of Contents

Say what now?

Eddie murphy gif

When you have a severe gluten intolerance, coeliac disease, or avoid gluten for other medical purposes, you know how careful you need to be around cross-contamination. You’ll likely know to use a separate toaster, separate chopping boards, store gluten food and gluten free food away from each other etc. But have you considered the fact that kissing someone who has just had gluten, could be a sure way of being glutening yourself? So if you’re going to all the effort to ensure a clean, crumb free kitchen but you aren’t thinking about the crumbs in someone’s mouth (gross I know) then you probably need to consider the risk!

But how?

How is that possible gif

Although there’s no solid scientific proof that you can get glutened from a kiss, logically it makes sense that you could, and there’s been a lot of instances where people with coeliac disease have shared their suspicions that they’ve been glutened by a kiss. Honestly, just when we thought we were safe!

If you think about it, traces of gluten particles from food or drink containing either wheat, barley, rye or oats can linger in someone’s mouth or on their lips for hours after consumption. If you’re then coming into contact with those particles, there’s a high chance that the gluten could be spread to you, and potentially give you a nasty glutening.

Think about it, if someone eats a piece of toast and has crumbs around their mouth and particles still in their mouth, and someone with coeliac disease kisses them, those crumbs could easily be transferred over.

It’s a good idea to wait a while after eating until kissing someone to make sure that there aren’t any gluten particles lingering in our around someone’s mouth. It’s even safer to make sure the person who has eaten gluten, brushes their teeth after they’ve had gluten and before kissing the person with the gluten intolerance or allergy. It might seem like a bit of a buzzkill but so is throwing up or having to spend your evening curled around the toilet so weigh up your options!

Beware of beer drinkers

Woman drinking beer

And it’s not just food that’s the culprit of gluten cross-contamination when kissing. Arguably, drinks like beer which contain gluten, are one of the easiest ways of transferring gluten particles.

And on the topic of beer, I almost got glutened last week by a brand of ginger beer and luckily checked the ingredients before my first sip. So this is your reminder to always check the ingredients of soft drinks that you wouldn’t think would contain gluten - better to be safe than sorry.

So, I’m not saying scout out non beer drinkers and make a beeline for them, but it’s something to consider. Maybe your partner would be open to drinking gluten free beer, just like they’re probably okay with having gluten free food around you.

Not just the lips

Kiss on the cheek gif

Without getting too much into the ‘sloppy’ details, it’s not just French kissing that you need to worry about; even a peck on the lips could result in being glutened if there are traces of gluten.

Also consider the fact that someone could be a messy eater and smothers gluten all over their face (icky I know) but then even a kiss on the cheek could put you in contact with gluten. And what about hands? Not everyone uses a napkin to wipe up residue of food around their mouth, often it’s the back of someone’s hand that does that job and oh, guess what, that’s another place for a kiss!

Watch out for facial hair

Hagrid Nodding

The thought of food being trapped in someone’s beard or moustache is enough to put me off kissing all together but it’s yet another thing to consider. Food particles could be lingering in someone’s facial hair and I don’t need to tell you the details of how they could be transferred.

Regardless of gluten, let’s just ask that everyone who is a messy eater learns some basic manners and food goes into the mouth and not anywhere else.

Those pesky kids and pets

full house eating GIF

The biggest culprits of messy eaters? Kids and animals!

But on a serious note, you have to be just as careful with your children when you’re considering cross-contamination from gluten. Whether it’s a kiss goodnight, a peck on the cheek or they’re coming over to you with their gluten stained hands/face/feet (food gets everywhere with kids) just remember to be aware that they could easily end up accidentally glutening you.

On a similar note, I always see posts about how parents or carers have accidentally glutened themselves by eating gluten when making their kids food and doing a taste test, wiping food from their mouth using the saliva method or scraping up the leftovers. It’s easily done!

So, let’s not deny any contact with your children or run away from their crumby hands and lock yourself in a room, but it’s just more things to consider when thinking about cross-contamination risks.

Same goes for pets, not all dog or cat food is gluten free and if you’re the type of owner who doesn’t mind being licked by your pet (not me) then watch out!

Who would have thought that you could potentially be glutened by your own sausage dog?!

Consider beauty products

the hangover GIF

It’s unlikely, but some beauty products contain gluten so keep that in mind when you’re sharing a kiss with someone. And have a look through your own beauty products - lip balms in particular, that they don’t contain any gluten which could easily end up in your mouth.

So, here’s some tips

On My Way Movie GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Aside from vowing never to kiss another human again, there are preventative measures you can put in place to make sure that you’re not accidentally glutened from a kiss.

  • Make sure you wait a while after eating before kissing

  • Ask them to brush their teeth or use mouthwash to try and remove most of the gluten particles

  • See if your kisser would be open to drinking gluten free beer or gluten free drinks in general

  • Remember that gluten particles won’t just be in the mouth, they could also be on the face, hands and facial hair

  • Be mindful that children are messy eaters

  • Not all animal food is gluten free so maybe politely ask your cat or dog not to lick you near your mouth

  • Check your beauty products, especially lipsticks and balms!

  • Finally, just a little reminder that anyone who doesn’t want to help minimise the risk of cross-contamination after they’ve eaten gluten and isn’t interested in keeping you safe, probably isn’t worth kissing!

Most importantly, remember this

Even if you show no signs of illness or a reaction after consuming gluten, if you are coeliac, you will still be causing the same amount of damage to your body as someone who shows many symptoms.

You must not risk consuming any gluten if you have coeliac disease, and yes, even a crumb will do long lasting damage.