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Research Update

Lifting the lid on coeliac disease awareness was a key driver behind Laura Peat's Master thesis in Health Sciences. The University of Auckland Nutrition and Dietetics Researcher has revealed some telling results.

Peat visited 46 food service providers in East Auckland to determine their knowledge of coeliac disease and requirements for safe gluten food practices.

Her early findings indicate:

  • Of the 130 outlets, 35% (46 outlets) were selected as suitable for interviewing
  • Of these 30% (14) were cafes, 33% (15) ethnic eateries, 22% (10) fast food oulets, 4% (two) bars and pubs, and 11% (five) restaurants.
  • Regarding CD awareness, 28 (61%) were aware of CD and 18 (39%) were not aware of CD.
  • 24 (86%) of participants correctly identified gluten as the causative agent in CD and 7 (18%) of participants correctly identified the treatment as a gluten free diet.

Check food safety of GF food when eating out

Laura Peat confirmed in her recent study of East Auckland cafes that although gluten free food was widely there was a lack of connection between CD and GFD knowledge and awareness, and practical identification of gluten containing ingredients.

Quick Facts:

Of the 46 participants:

  • 57% were female.
  • 13 (28%) identified as NZ European, 11 (24%) identified as Indian, and 9 (20%) identified as Chinese.
  • 34 (74%) had a qualification.
  • Of this 34, 22 (65%) obtained their qualification in New Zealand, 14 (30%) completed a Level 5 Diploma in cookery and 17 (50%) took more than 2 years to complete their qualification.

Of the 46 food service providers:

  • 44 (96%) had an A food premises grade.
  • GF food was more expensive at 16 (35%) food service providers.

CD awareness

  • 28 (61%) were aware of CD.
  • Of this 28, 24 (86%) correctly identified gluten as the causative agent in CD, 6 (21%) correctly identified CD prevalence of 1% in New Zealand and 7 (25%) correctly identified the treatment as a GFD.


45 (98%) participants had heard of a GFD.

In the GF Quiz:

  • 16 (35%) incorrectly identified rice noodles as containing gluten.
  • 11% incorrectly identified mozzarella cheese as containing gluten.
  • 54% correctly identified soy sauce as containing gluten.
  • 96% correctly identified flour as containing gluten. 

The majority of food service providers who were not aware of CD (39%) worked for ethnic eateries and fast food outlets (78%) and identified as non-New Zealand European. These participants were more likely to have a CD and GF knowledge score of <50%, and overall knowledge score of <50%. This may be due to the identified non-NZ European ethnicities and their respective countries having relatively low CD prevalence particularly among East and South Asian, African American, and sub-Saharan African populations when compared to European countries.

The findings from the present 2017 study demonstrated a lower awareness of CD of 61% in East Auckland, New Zealand; compared to studies by Shultz et al, Simpson et al and Aziz et al who reported an CD awareness of 87% in Dunedin, New Zealand in 2013-2014, 77% in New York, America in 2010, and 78.1% in Sheffield, United Kingdom in 2013 respectively.

Figure 1 Percentage of GF policy implementation by food service provider category