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Providing Gluten Free Meals

Providing gluten free meals

Avoiding foods that contain gluten is essential for people with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. There are a huge number of foods that are naturally gluten free as well as gluten free alternative products like bread and pasta. You may already be offering gluten free choices without realising it and with a bit of thought, it is quite easy to expand your repertoire. It is important that all staff are aware of which menu options are gluten free and which are not to help your customers choose their meal with confidence.

Many foods are naturally gluten free, including:

Fruit, vegetables, salad, rice, potato, corn, plain meat (not sausages), poultry, soya, tapioca, polenta, buckwheat, sago, arrowroot, cornflour, gram flour, potato flour, quinoa, butter, margarine, oil, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, and most yoghurts, pulses (peas, beans and lentils).

Examples of foods which may contain gluten:

Baked beans, cereal, sausages, marinated meat, imitation seafoods, dry roasted nuts, some ice-cream/desserts, fish and chips, chips/crisps, pasta sauces, mince sauces, soups, sauces, gravy.

Examples of foods which contain gluten:

Unless specified gluten free these types of foods are NOT gluten free: Burger buns, bread, cakes, biscuits, croutons, soy sauce, stuffing, luncheon meats, sausages, saveloys, cocktail sausages, beer, bagels, cheesecake (the biscuit base), wraps, doughnuts, buns, spaghetti, pasta, most cereals, dried packet soup, pizza, pies, crackers, gravy, beer, lager, stout.
Contamination of gluten-free foods with foods that contain gluten can be a major problem for people with coeliac disease. It is important to minimise contamination risk during food preparation and when serving food.

The following steps will help to reduce the risk of contamination:

  • Wash down surfaces and utensils before preparing gluten free foods
  • Cook gluten free food in separate or clean dishes/baking trays
  • Use clean oil for frying and clean water for cooking gluten free pasta/rice
  • Use separate utensils for gluten free food
  • Keep the packaging of ingredients so that you can check that they are gluten free
  • Check with your supplier to ensure that flour ingredients are from a reputable source – although some flours are naturally gluten free, they can be milled in places where wheat flour is also milled. This increases the risk of contamination because there is wheat flour in the atmosphere or traces of it in storage vessels.

Promoting your gluten free dishes

Some restaurants indicate suitable dishes by printing 'GF' or using a logo/icon alongside suitable options on the menu to make it clear. Some restauants make a separate gluten free menu for customers.

Things to Remember

Remember that if your gluten free customer has an enjoyable meal out, they are likely to return and also to recommend your establishment to others - both those who are gluten free and those who are not. It is also worth remembering that when you cater for a gluten free customer, you are also catering for their friends and family. Also, it is often the customer with coeliac disease who drives the decision when choosing where to dine.