Gluten-free guidance launched by Coeliac UK

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Plea to operators: the Gluten Freevolution campaign aims to see more gluten-free choices
Plea to operators: the Gluten Freevolution campaign aims to see more gluten-free choices

Related tags: Gluten-free diet, Wheat, Coeliac disease

Pubs looking to safely cater for gluten-free patrons can benefit from new easy-to-understand guidance launched today (Monday 8 May). 

The publication, produced by Coeliac UK and backed by the Food Standards Agency, aims to improve the levels of understanding among caterers, as well as increase the skills and knowledge of both front and back-of-house staff in preparing and serving gluten-free food.

It comes as the charity debuts a new awareness raising campaign backed by actress Caroline Quentin.

Catering gluten-free: how to get it right​ outlines the steps kitchens should take to reduce the risk of cross contamination with gluten at all stages of food preparation and identify potential risks in the process.

Chapters on safe storage, staff training, supply chain management and the law on gluten-free and allergen labelling legislation are also included alongside recommendations on how to choose the right ingredients and a list of gluten-free food.

As many as 1.3m people follow a gluten-free diet and Coeliac UK estimates the hospitality industry could be missing out on £100m a year by not catering for people with coeliac disease.

Gluten Freevolution

The charity’s latest campaign, Gluten Freevolution, aims to encourage caterers to provide more gluten-free food options and follows a survey it conducted in 2016, which found that more than 90% of people on a gluten-free diet ate out over a four-week period – more than half described the experience as frustrating and 25% suspected their food has been ‘glutened’.

Quentin, who was diagnosed with coeliac disease two years ago, has voiced a series of four short animated videos featuring ducks that provide top tips for gluten-free provision.

“We all remember feeding bread to ducks as children and, of course, we now know that bread is bad for ducks, as bread containing gluten is for people with coeliac disease, so we thought we would play on this familiar childhood memory in our campaign,” Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK.

“Uncertainty can make eating out a lottery at times, and trusting your health to a food establishment can often be a big and worrying step, something Coeliac UK wants to improve.

"While Coeliac UK has made big changes on the high street through our accreditation and training, we now want to make sure we see the same gains in the public sector and when travelling."

Improving confidence

She added: "The charity wants to improve confidence and understanding on both sides, bridging the gap between the expectations of the gluten-free consumer and the skills and understanding of the caterers themselves.”

Coeliac disease is a serious autoimmune condition caused by a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

Those diagnosed must maintain a strict gluten-free diet for the rest of their life if they are to avoid complications such as osteoporosis, infertility and, although rare, small bowel cancer.

“Like everyone else with the condition, when I grab a bite for lunch or go out for a meal with my family, I am putting my health in the hands of those preparing and serving the food each and every time I eat out,” said Quentin, who is a Coeliac UK patron.

“I hope that the animations and wider campaign will help to spread understanding and knowledge about the gluten-free diet.

"It’s hard to get people to understand, especially if they have no personal experience of coeliac disease, so by adopting this fun and interesting approach Coeliac UK aims to break through those barriers.”

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