Embed this Video

Share this on Twitter

Hosting a barbecue this weekend? Be aware of any guests with gluten allergies. Experts @nationwidekids have tips:  
Link to this page:

Meet the Expert

Mary Kay Sharrett, MS, RD, CNSC, LD

click here to read more

Tips For Gluten-Free Cookouts

Cases of celiac disease quadruple, causing surge in gluten-free diets

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – The number of people on gluten-free diets is at an all time high in the U.S. Some people choose to avoid gluten, which is found in grains like wheat, barley, rye and oats, but for others it is a medical must.  Today the number of people with celiac disease, or an intolerance of gluten, has surged to nearly one in every one-hundred thirty-three people, quadruple the number of people just five decades ago.

“Celiac disease is being diagnosed at a much higher rate than it ever was before,” said Mary Kay Sharrett, SM, RD, LD, CNSD, from the Celiac Disease Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  “Even trace amounts of gluten can cause damage and painful inflammation in a patient’s digestive tract.”

But just because you or someone you know has to avoid gluten, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on backyard barbecues this summer.  With a little planning and a few precautions, you can make sure your gluten-free guests are safe and satisfied at your next cookout.

For more information on gluten-free cookouts, click on the video box to the left.  To read the full press release, and to get tips for your next barbecue, click on the “click to read more” link below.






Tips to Safely Eat Gluten-Free from Nationwide Children's Hospital's Celiac Nutrition Expert

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Grilling out, particularly pot-luck style, can make gluten-free barbecues challenging for families with children who are living with celiac disease.

“When going to a cookout, parents with a child who is gluten-free because of celiac disease or a wheat allergy need to make sure that cross-contamination has been avoided and that they read labels carefully,” said Mary Kay Sharrett, SM, RD, LD, CNSD, from the Celiac Disease Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Especially if gathering with a group who may not understand the particulars of a gluten-free diet.”

Take a gluten-free dish or two with you to a cookout, such as a bowl of mixed berries, baked beans, corn on the cob or a gluten-free potato salad, so that you know your child will have something to eat. Sharrett suggests bringing a gluten-free bun with you to the cookout or using a large piece of lettuce as a substitute for a hamburger bun.

“Closely watch the condiments. Read the labels, and if squeeze bottles aren’t being used, try to be first in line to avoid contamination from knives that have touched bread containing gluten,” said Sharrett.

According to Sharrett, a family who has experience eating gluten-free may want to offer to host the cookout to ensure all the details have been covered to keep the experience safe. Even crumbs from food containing gluten being left behind can be harmful for a child with celiac disease if they mix with a gluten-free dish.

In order to grill safely gluten-free, make sure only plain meat and vegetables end up on the grill. Parents should take the following precautions:

  • Ask if the meat is plain. Seasoning or soup mixes containing wheat may have been added to the meat.
  • Check for marinades or sauces. Marinades or sauces may contain wheat, especially if they contain soy sauce. Some soy sauce can be purchased gluten-free. Watch out for marinades made with beer.
  • Check for meat substitutes. Meat substitutes, like veggie burgers, often look like the real thing, but can contain wheat.





  • Wrap your food in foil while grilling. Wrapping your meat or corn on the cob in foil is crucial if you don’t know if the grill has been cleaned, especially after marinades containing gluten have been used or buns have been warmed on the grill.
  • Make sure the spatula only touches plain meats or vegetables. Cross contamination with buns or marinades could be dangerous.

“The long-term effect of anyone with celiac disease being exposed to gluten is damage to the intestine. Some kids experience symptoms immediately,” said Sharrett. “As a result, many parents choose to eat at home in a controlled environment, but group cookouts are possible if you are cautious.”




This multimedia release has been archived... for more downloads from this release please contact Jerred Ziegler at


Cookout Recipes


Press Release


TV Script



News Package






News Package Nats


News Package With Titles



News Package Audio MP3


Bites Audio MP3



Nationwide Children`s Hospital
People avoiding gluten don`t have to avoid summer cookouts
Experts at Nationwide Children`s Hospital say there is a way to avoid foods with gluten at summer cookouts. Keeping foods separate can help prevent contamination.
Libby enjoys snacks that are gluten free
Libby enjoys a dinner of carrots and chicken. Libby has celiac disease and works with experts at Nationwide Children`s Hospital to avoid foods with gluten.
Children can work with their parents to make gluten free snacks
Andrea helps her daughters make a gluten free smoothie in their kitchen. After doctors at Nationwide Children`s Hospital told her that Libby has celiac disease, Andrea has made her house gluten free.
Gluten free products are becoming more popular
More and more products are being offered in gluten free varieties. Experts at Nationwide Children`s Hospital help families navigate their way through the grocery store to help pick out items that do not contain gluten.
Cookout side dishes do not have to include gluten
Experts at Nationwide Children`s Hospital have suggestions on the kinds of side dishes to include at your cookout so that people avoiding gluten can eat them as well.
Gluten free experts can help families navigate which foods are safe
Mary Kay Sharrett, a nurse at Nationwide Children`s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, works with patients who have a need to avoid gluten. Sharrett has recipes and food lists that will help families keep items with gluten out of their diets.