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Coeliac awareness - how you can cater for coeliacs

For a lot of people, following a gluten-free diet is essential treatment for coeliac disease, which is a debilitating autoimmune disease with life-long consequences if gluten is not removed from their diets. For many, even a tiny amount of gluten can make them severely ill for several days. Remember, it is not a choice (which can be a common misconception).  
97% of people, in a recent Coeliac UK poll, said that when they've found a gluten free venue that they trust, it becomes a preferred place to visit. 

In addition to this, 96% of people will pick their venue based on the gluten-free needs of one of their group or party.
Catering for gluten-free diets can greatly increase customer loyalty and footfall. Take a look at our Gluten-Free offerings below and the helpful Coeliac UK guides which we've linked at the bottom of this blog. 
People living with this disease can find it incredibly hard to eat out for fear of cross contamination, misunderstanding among staff members and incorrect labelling.
To help you navigate catering for someone who cannot eat any gluten, and because it is Coeliac Awareness Month in May, here are some of our favourite gluten-free foodservice products and tips, to help you safely offer quality and variety to these diners.  

Easy wins

When catering for a robust, nutritious and gluten-free menu, potato, rice, quinoa and corn-based products are where you should start.
As long as you are mindful of cross contamination, building dishes around these naturally gluten-free carbohydrates will ensure variety - as well as using certified gluten-free sauces, breads, pastas and pastries, designed for use in foodservice.  

Coeliac Awareness Facts - Do you know about ‘may contain’ products?  

Due to cross contamination in the manufacturing process, coeliacs are also unable to eat products which are labeled as ‘may contain gluten’. Please be aware of this and check labels carefully when preparing your gluten-free menus.  

Gluten-free inspiration – savoury and mains   

Crispy fish and chicken.
We have a good range of gluten-free fish fingers, fish bites, fish fillets, chicken chunks and chicken goujons. Popular with lots of foodservice customers.
Pizza and pastas.
This range of gluten-free sourdough pizza bases and stone baked flatbreads offer great quality. And when it comes to gluten-free pasta and noodles – from lasagna sheets, penne and fusilli to rice noodles, there are lots of options and often you can't taste the difference!
And for a staple option, we also like this gluten-free frozen brie and red onion tart!
Sausages and meatballs.
Due to flour often being used to bind sausages and meatballs, many are not gluten free. Here are some good options that we stock:frozen sausages, fresh sausages and meatballs
Gluten-free sides.
Due to the manufacturing process, some potato products 'may contain gluten', so not all potato-based foodservice products are suitable. However, Bannisters Farm are certified as gluten-free and offer a great range of frozen oven-baked filled potato skins, roast potatoes, jacket potatoes and mash options.

Things to watch out for

Contaminated Cooking OIl

Although most potato-based products are gluten free, offering chips on your menu isn’t necessarily enough to cater for a gluten-free diet because some are coated in flour. Then, there is also the issue of cross contamination. 
Is your cooking oil used only for gluten-free chips, for example, or has it been used for any other battered or breaded foods, which will contain gluten? If so, this can pose a risk to someone with coeliac disease.  


Sauces and seasonings

A lot of sauces contain wheat flour as a thickener. Even though proportionally this may seem like a very small amount of gluten, it’s still enough to make someone with coeliac disease very ill; as these people cannot tolerate gluten due to their autoimmune disease.  

Check labels carefully and consider using gluten-free sauces as standard, so that you do not have to worry about stocking multiple versions of one type of product, such as gravy. 
To safely cater for coeliacs, you need to think carefully about the types of foods on your menu and how they are being cooked and prepared. If you’re not able to guarantee that deep-fried foods such as chips are gluten-free, or your sauces are safe when they leave your kitchen, what else can you offer a person who is coeliac
What can you do to make them feel welcome and catered for? 

Gluten-free breads, pastries and snacks

When offering gluten-free lighter bites and snacks, here are a few great options. Gluten-free wraps, gluten-free bread rolls, and gluten-free brioche rolls
Gluten-free snacks - don't assume all crisps are 100% gluten free. Some may be classed as 'may contain' due to the factory they are made in.
Kettle and Burts crisps are some good certified gluten-free options. And when it comes to snacking on something sweet, Metcalfe's do a great range of rice cakes and popcorn grab-and-go options. Other brands to consider in this space are Popworks and ProperCorn

Gluten-free sauces, spice mixes and flours

Lee Kum Kee have authentic and gluten-free sauces, helping you to create a wide range of Asian-inspired dishes, why not try out the Vegetarian stir fry sauce or the Oyster sauce.

Create great flavour with Major – all gluten free (and vegan!) and are a great way to add flavour to dishes with their spice bases, bouillons and stocks

Don’t forget the gravy –

We have plenty of gluten-free gravy options available for foodservice, giving you the reassurance of a great-tasting, gluten-free, gravy every time.

If you’re looking to create gluten-free foods from scratch, these are the best alternative flours to use in your kitchen - including plain flour, self-raising flour, chickpea gram flour and coconut flour

Gluten-free inspiration – sweet and desserts

Gluten free cakes and scones.
We have a great range of gluten-free cakes and scones, to make your life in foodservice nice and easy!
From individually-wrapped grab-and-go options, such as these cake wedges and cherry bakewell tarts to full cakes - browse these frozen lemon drizzle and chocolate options. As well as these frozen gluten-free scones

Gluten-free desserts – offering customers more than just ice cream!
Here are a few of our top picks when it comes to gluten-free desserts in foodservice. New York cheesecake, caramel apple pie and lemon meringue pie.

Coeliac UK Guides

Hospitality Guide

Helping people to eat out with confidence

Education Guide

Reassuring students who must follow a gluten free diet

Healthcare Guide

Catering for patients and visitors with coeliac disease

Thank you for reading our Coeliac Awareness Month blog. We hope you have found it useful and that we've been able to give you more confidence and inspiration to better cater for coeliacs and/or the growing number people wishing to avoid gluten in their diet due to a less serious intolerance or diet.

To find out more about Coeliac disease, visit Coeliac UK.