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Are you catering for people with Coeliac disease?

Thursday, October 18, 2018


In recent years the gluten-free market has exploded with a 27% rise in sales reported in 2017 alone. Mintel has found 15% of households to be avoiding gluten and wheat, with more than half of those respondents citing ‘healthier eating’ as a reason for doing so.

The trend for eating gluten-free remains on the rise, but there are many people who don’t choose to be gluten-free but instead have to follow a gluten-free diet because they have Coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease is a life-long autoimmune disease which is caused by a reaction to gluten. Gluten is a name for a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale and acts as a sort of glue, holding foods together, hence why gluten-free bread and cake tends to fall apart and not have the same soft, stretchy texture as those made with wheat flour.

When avoiding gluten, oats are also often thrown onto the list. Oats do not inherently contain gluten, however, due to their manufacturing methods, it is advised by the Coeliac Disease Foundation that those following a gluten-free diet should stick to oats labelled as gluten-free as these must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten and are suitable for coeliac sufferers.

It’s one thing to cook a dish without any gluten-containing ingredients, and it’s quite another for this meal to be suitable for someone with coeliac disease. This is because gluten can contaminate a dish at many stages of the cooking process and something as simple as cutting gluten-free bread with the same knife as you’ve previously cut regular bread is enough to cause a reaction.

Catering for someone with coeliac disease may involve adapting your kitchen processes but will be worth it for your establishment. It’s estimated that the catering industry is missing out on £100 million a year by not catering for people with coeliac disease, as 80% of Coeliac UK surveyed members said when they eat out with other people, their need for safe gluten-free options determines where they eat.

Caroline, COO here at Kafoodle, suffers from coeliac disease and has kindly agreed to share what she likes and dislikes to see when dining out:

“I tend to eat only at places which have an allergen menu or advertise gluten-free menu items as I feel that if they’ve gone to the trouble of labelling gluten-free items then it should be a good indication that they are more knowledgeable about and respectful of food allergies and will take care in the preparation of my food.”

“It’s never a good sign when the waiting staff stare blankly at you when you ask what the gluten-free options are! My pet hate is when they bring the ‘allergen folder of pain’ with the unintelligible 20 page excel printout of allergens and dump it in front of you expecting you to wade through it and find something you can and want to eat. Often the printout is dish name only, and in a different order to the beautiful menu that ‘normal’ people are able to choose from so, it requires a lot of cross-referencing and immediately removes any enjoyment from a dining experience.”

“All I ask is that I am not treated as an awkward second class diner who is only there to make the chef and waiting staff’s lives difficult. I can sometimes be made to feel that I am not deserving of an enjoyable and risk-free meal with friends or family.”

Caroline’s favourite places to eat include Cote Brasserie, Pizza Express and Leon as they consistently provide gluten-free options and a pleasurable dining experience.

If you’re looking to improve your gluten-free menu options or to gain a gluten-free accreditation then we highly recommend getting in touch with Coeliac UK. And for help communicating your gluten-free dishes and other food-allergens to your diners then take a look at our food-management solutions.

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