Although us coeliacs can guarantee that we’re safe from the perils of cross contamination in our own home, we sadly can’t be quite so sure in restuarents that cater both gluten free and none gluten free food.
I feel we’re so lucky at the moment to have so many restaurants catering for us coeliacs, that we can finally dine out with our friends and family without having to worry about whether or not there’s more than salad, chips and jacket potatoes on the menu. Sadly, there’s been plenty of tales of us experiencing the terrible signs of ‘glutening’ after dining out that makes us wonder whether the restaurants are really doing all they can to help with cross contamination?
The lovely Eve Douglas, the co-editor of Tomorrow’s FM, believes restaurants aren’t doing everything they can to help eliminate cross contamination in the kitchen, and I agree! She makes a great point that restaurants take great care in not using the same knife and chopping board for cutting and preparing raw meats and vegetables, that the same level of care should be given when preparing and cooking gluten free foods. She also suggests the use of colour coded utensils to ensure they aren’t accidently misused.
Alex Gazzolo, the author of Coeliac Disease: What You Need To Know, suggests that in order for us coeliacs to feel reassured when dinging out, we need to have an understanding catering manager, chef or waiter that knows all about coeliac disease and the issues surrounding cross contamination. I must admit, I feel less anxious dining out at places that understand coeliac disease as it saves us coeliacs for having to explain it to them, explain the symptoms and try to make them see it’s an auto immune disease not an allergy!
Coeliac UK offer training courses for those in the food industry to understand coeliac disease and learn how to handle and prepare food to eliminate cross contamination. At the end of each course [either online or face to face] a certificate is awarded to show that they understand everything needed about complying with the current law and catering for a gluten-free diet. They even provide a chance for restaurants to accredit their business with a well recognised symbol on their menus to ensure coeliacs that they are dining out at a restaurant that provides a high level of care and eliminate all possible chances of cross contamination.
I feel that because the gluten free industry is worth £100 million, that many business jump on the ‘gluten free’ bandwagon to make money. I’m not pointing any fingers here, but you just have to look at Dominos new gluten free pizza base in US… that’s not suitable for coeliacs or those with gluten sensitivity [*rolls eyes*], to see how companies are using gluten free food to their own advantage.
At the restaurants that offer gluten free food, as well as non gluten free food, they always state a disclaimer at the end of their menu to explain that theycan’t guarantee that their dishes may be 100% gluten free, which is why I explained in the Tomorrows FM article, that coeliacs are always playing a game of Russian Roulette every time they dine out – and it’s not fair. I sometimes feel that there should be stricter guidelines for restaurants to state whether or not they offer gluten free food, but I feel that having such strict guidelines could ‘put off’ other restaurants in offering gluten free options in the future.
So what are YOUR VIEWS on cross contamination?
Do you think it’s as simple as having colour coded utensils, more care in the kitchen and that staff are simply being a ‘little lazy’?
Do you think stricter guidelines need to be set and that those in the food industry need to be properly educated?
Or do you have your own view?