Mohammed Essa, general manager at Aviko, said: “With the recent allergen legislation coming into effect it’s never been more important for operators to be fully aware of what’s on their menus.
"Though potatoes themselves don’t contain gluten, how and where they are prepared means that operators could be unintentionally serving gluten to customers, which can mean serious side effects for those with an intolerance.”
Essa added: “We can see from the research that a shocking 73% of people don’t feel that the out-of-home sector does enough to cater for gluten intolerances, putting operators and their customers at risk.”
According to the study, 21% of people said they would be willing to pay more for a gluten-free meal, with 29% claiming they would not return to a business without an adequate number of acceptable, gluten-free menu options.
38% of respondents also said they would choose gluten-free side dishes if they were available.
Expanding a gluten-free or free-from food offer could be key to driving profits from health-conscious customers, a separate survey by Leatherhead Food Research suggests.
76% percent of consumers opting for a gluten-free lifestyle said they wanted a better range of products whilst 70% said free-from products should be more widely available.
Mark Lyddy, head of foodservice at Tilda, said: “With gluten-free restaurant orders up 12.8% in 2014, operators have to cater for the needs of this growing market, but at the same time are under pressure to ensure the offering is not “second best” in terms of taste and quality.”
According to figures from Coeliac UK, 1 in 100 people have the disease caused by intolerance to gluten.
Symptoms of coeliac disease can include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, headaches, weight loss, hair loss and anaemia.
It is estimated that roughly 24% of coeliac sufferers have not yet been diagnosed.