Coeliac Awareness Week, food labelling and celebrity intolerance!

Sausages may contain gluten via fillers or bin...
Sausages may contain gluten via fillers or binders such as Butcher’s Rusk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have had a very busy week and been unable to blog, my wish was to blog of my findings at the end of Coeliac Awareness Week however we were extremely busy on The IBS Network stand at the Allergy and Free From Show – I needed a weeks rest (but I was still at work during the day!) It was an experience to follow the gluten-free diet again, I did find it much easier second time around but the challenge was eating out, of which it was my first experience. I managed to resist the temptation of eating the ginger biscuits left on my tea-tray in the hotel room and survived the eating out experience. I did find discussing my requirements a little difficult at first, being someone with a shy disposition (you may find this a little difficult to appreciate, but I assure you its true,) I was soon used to the challenge of asking how food is cooked and served.

At the show, a colleague informed me that someone was selling a freshly cooked sausage 97% gluten-free – we discussed this, why make 97% gluten-free sausages? Why not go the whole hog, so to speak – 100% gluten-free and suitable for all? Who were these sausages aimed at? Clearly not people with coeliac disease, perhaps those with gluten intolerance?  I suspect that 3% gluten may affect those with gluten intolerance also. Or possibly aimed at those with the highly exclusive condition ‘fashionista celebrity gluten hypochondria’ who follow the latest dietary trends and can afford to be a little selective in their gastronomy – perhaps now I am being a little too cynical or cruel? I am sure you will tell me, if I am! Am I suffering from celebrity intolerance, I wonder? This food was being provided freshly cooked for direct sale – not prepackaged, but freshly cooked food in restaurants and cafe’s provided for those with coeliac disease is included in the new UK 2012 gluten-free food legislation and to be labelled gluten-free it should have been tested and have no more than 20 ppm of gluten. What this does show is industry food labelling obfuscation at its worst – despite the fact we now have regulations regarding the labelling of gluten-free and allergen containing foods. We do seem to have individual suppliers who still persist in supplying food that is unsuitable for those who need to avoid certain components that may cause illness. Unfortunately I didn’t have adequate time to discuss this with the vendor as we were so busy, but I do hope that someone had the time to elucidate them with the details of the legislation.

Where I felt that I was of use was to explain about contamination risks for coeliacs with the hotel before I left. If you recall the breakfast was a buffet style with gluten contamination risks with serving cutlery, this was discussed when I checked out of the hotel, I did suggest that it may have been better to provide and gluten-free cooked meat and cheese on a separate dish and avoid contamination in the kitchens, then people with coeliac disease could be a little more confident in the food provided. I still feel that people with coeliac disease will still struggle with eating out despite the new legislation, but we must continue to explain what is needed to the catering industry and if this is done sensitively, working with the industry, awareness hopefully will increase. Let me know of your experiences of coeliac awareness week, eating out, food labelling and the new legislation.