Gluten Free: topping the list of special dietary requests

Wednesday, 15 July, 2020

One in three hospitality workers have never had training in gluten free food service – an issue for any business offering gluten free meal options. With Coeliac Awareness Week approaching (13th-20th March) we take a look at what you can do to increase skills in managing gluten free menus.

A 2020 survey1 showed that ‘gluten free’ tops the list of special dietary requests for Australians when eating out, with gluten free requests five times greater than nut and peanut free requests, and seven times more requested than dairy and lactose free meals combined.

 

Because the health of diners with coeliac disease relies on restaurants and other commercial food providers offering genuine gluten-free options, many working in the hospitality industry may need to review their processes to protect the health of their customers.

 

 

Gluten free training can be easily forgotten, overlooked or just not considered when times get tough. And there is no denying that there have been many challenges for hospitality in the past year. However, for many diners seeking gluten free options, avoiding gluten is a medical necessity rather than a lifestyle choice, and a gluten free menu that contains no detectable gluten is essential.

 

Supporting staff with training is now much easier with resources such as Nestlé Professional’s second edition of its gluten free management resource, Your Practical Guide to Gluten Free inGluten Free Guide Food Service

 

 

The Guide aims to educate on the key principles of providing gluten free foods using case-study scenarios and streamlined step-by-step solutions based on Coeliac Australia’s Gluten Free Standard for Food Service.

 

Delivering a gluten free menu that contains no detectable gluten requires all staff to be aware of the three main principles of gluten management:

 

  1. Sourcing: the first step in the creation of a gluten free menu
    • Use of trusted suppliers who can validate their claims about the nature of their gluten free ingredients
    • Simplify processes by utilising gluten free staples across your whole menu
    • Check labels and product specifications regularly to ensure gluten free ingredients remain gluten free

 

  1. Segregation: ensuring your gluten free ingredients and menu items stay gluten free
    • Prevention of cross contamination requires identification of all high-risk areas and activities in the kitchen
    • Dedicate a preparation area to gluten free, or prepare these items first
    • Use colour coded dedicated utensils for gluten free food preparation
    • Secure storage of gluten free ingredients ensures they remain contamination free
    • Consider scientific testing of your menu to validate your gluten free claim

 

  1. Service: essential in supporting back of house efforts in gluten free
    • Educate front of house on their responsibilities regarding knowledge about food allergens, including gluten
    • Ensure all staff know where to go for your menu’s allergen information
    • Highlight high risk activities at service that can result in gluten contamination of a gluten free meal, eg, addition of gluten containing garnishes, not delivering gluten free meals separately, or not maintaining separate serving utensils for gluten free foods

 

Being on top of your gluten free processes is good for business, as word of mouth is a valuable promotional tool. When diners with gluten free dietary needs can eat out without falling ill, they will spread the word.

 

We also know the odds of having one gluten free person amongst a group of diners is on the rise, so if you can’t cater to this one guest, you may miss out on the opportunity to serve the whole group.

 

The updated Gluten Free in Food Service guide has been designed to complement Nestlé Professional’s portfolio of gluten free food products. Download the guide free at: www.nestleprofessional.com.au/training/gluten-free-resources
 

 

Additional allergen training options

 

Other allergen management training options for the hospitality industry include:

  • Gluten Free Online Training by Coeliac Australia, sponsored by Nestlé here
  • All About Allergens Training for Food Services, by the National Allergy Strategy here
  • All About Allergens for  Hospitals, by the National Allergy Strategy here


 


[1] Nestlé Professional Customer Survey 2020