Coeliac Awareness Week - what you need to know about serving gluten-free


Coeliac Awareness Week - what you need to know about serving gluten-free

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Coeliac Awareness Week hit the headlines as charity Coeliac UK continues its campaign to improve the identification and awareness of Coeliac disease. This condition is a lifelong autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten and one which largely goes undiagnosed - Coeliac UK estimates that only 24% of people who have the condition have been diagnosed, and that there are nearly half a million people who don't yet know they have it.

Why serve gluten-free?

When a coeliac consumes gluten, their immune system responds aggressively by damaging the lining of the small intestine; the only treatment is for those affected to follow a gluten-free diet. The current estimation is that 1 in 100 people are affected by coeliac disease, and that the market is missing out on approximately £100 million a year by not offering gluten-free options.

As well catering to coeliacs, offering gluten-free options in your hospitality business will also appeal to the significant proportion of customers who chose to avoid gluten for other health reasons. A recent survey by Mintel found that more than 30% of customers chose gluten-free or free-from foods because it makes them feel 'better' or 'healthier', whilst just under the same amount choose such foods to add variety to their diets. Hospitality operators might want to consider tapping into this lucrative market.

Top tips for serving gluten-free

1. Make the information easily available
Make sure your website is up-to-date with what dishes are, or can be made, gluten free. If coeliacs don't know that there are options available to them at your restaurant, they won't come!

2. Choose ingredients with care
Ensure you only use reputable suppliers who label their ingredients and products gluten-free. Look out for any mention of wheat, rye, barley and oats, but also be aware that it can sneak into all manner of products that you might not expect, such as soy sauce.

3. Avoid cross-contamination
Use separate cooking apparatus to prepare gluten-free meals and keep all foods and ingredients separate during preparation. If you offer deep-fried foods then a separate fryer with clean oil must be used for gluten-free meals. It is advisable to use preparation areas that are at least two metres apart.

4. Ensure staff are well-trained
Educate your team on coeliac disease and the gluten-free menu, and ensure they are able to speak with confidence about the ingredients, preparation procedure, and options you offer. Even if a dish is gluten free, staff appearing uncertain or misinformed will cause those with coeliac disease to be unable to relax and enjoy the meal.

For additional information about coeliac disease and the hospitality industry, explore

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