PREPARING A GLUTEN-FREE MEAL FOR A PERSON WITH COELIAC DISEASE
Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or a food intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the lining of part of the gut (the small intestine). This is on-going when gluten is consumed in any amount. Coeliacs can experience a wide array of symptoms not limited to the digestive system. People with this condition MUST eat gluten-free meals for life to adequately manage their health and well-being. It is not a choice, it is a medical necessity.
Foods with GLUTEN:
– Wheat, wheat berries, triticale Wheat and derivatives of wheat such as: durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, KAMUT® khorasan wheat, einkorn wheat.
– Wheat Starch that has not been processed to remove the presence of gluten to below 20ppm and adhere to the FDA Labeling Law.
– Rye, barley, oats, triticale.
– Can be commonly found in: bread, rolls, croutons, bread crumbs and batters used for coating, cakes, pies, cookies and muffins, crackers or cracker crumbs, noodles, soups, sauces, gravies which may have been thickened with these flours.
– REMEMBER: Products labeled wheat-free are not necessarily gluten-free. They may still contain ingredients that are not gluten-free (GF).
Most distilled alcoholic beverages and vinegars are gluten-free like: Wines and hard liquor/distilled beverages are gluten-free. However, beers, ales, lagers and malt beverages that are made from gluten-containing grains and are not distilled are therefore not gluten-free. There are several brands of gluten-free beers available in Ireland.
– Fresh meat (without crumb or fillers), fish, fruit and vegetables, fresh herbs and eggs.
– Dairy products such as milk, cream, butter, natural yogurt and natural cheese in their natural state.
– Pure oils and fats.
– Dried beans, peas, lentils and pulses.
– Rice, corn, soy and potato products or other gluten free grains (similar to flours).
– Flours made from rice, corn, buckwheat, soy and potato, pea, lentil, chickpeas, millet, amaranth, sorghum, tapioca, quinoa, teff or gluten free blends.
Beware of the above ingredients in such foods as:
– Bouillon cubes, soup or gravy bases
– Sliced or processed meats
– Spices and seasonings,
– Salad dressings/sauces. Ex: Soy sauce (though tamari made without wheat is gluten-free)
– Condiments (ex. Mustard)
– Icing sugar
Not only must Coeliacs be cautious about the ingredients in gluten free food, they must also be aware of the possibility of cross contamination.
What is meant by “cross contamination” in the context of Coeliac Disease?
- Cross contamination is the process by which a gluten free product/food loses that status because it comes in contact with something that is not gluten free. This can be by way of surface area, cooking medium/method, storage and handling or preparation methods.
The following practices will go a long way towards avoiding cross contamination:
1) Utilizing a separate or isolated butter dish and a cutting board that is used for gluten free foods only.
2) Utilizing a separate toaster if possible or a toaster oven where the rack can be removed and washed if others have used it with glutinous products.
3) If you wish to offer gluten free fried foods (ex. Chips, GF crumbed fish or chicken, etc) you must have a separate fryer dedicated completed to gluten free foods. Cooking oils can be a source of contamination.
4) If it is not practical to have a the counter top set aside for preparing gluten free food only, always make sure that the counter space you are using to prepare gluten free food is freshly and properly washed to ensure it is free from crumbs or flour dust or other possible contaminants.
5) Use clean utensils and avoid “double dipping”. Knives or spoons are OK the first time, but once they have touched food with gluten, they can contaminate the food in the container if used again. In some environments, it would be wise for to have separate jars of jam, peanut butter, mustard, spreads, etc., that are stored properly for coeliac customers.
6) Make sure any pots, utensils, etc. that are used for other foods are thoroughly scrubbed with detergent before using for gluten free foods. In the case of something like muffin tins, paper liners may be a worthwhile consideration.
7) Do gluten free baking first whenever possible, for example if you are a café or eat-in bakery. Then have those products well wrapped and stored before doing anything with regular flours. Flour dust (in the air) from regular flours could settle on the gluten free products, thus contaminating them
8) When making sandwiches, do the gluten free ones first – otherwise be sure to wash your hands after touching regular bread and before touching gluten free supplies.
9) It is best to have a separate set of utensils with porous surfaces, such as wooden spoons, for your gluten free baking. These utensils might retain some gluten particles after cleaning.
10) If using lentils, be sure to meticulously pick them over before putting in the pot to cook. Even if you buy them packaged, it is not uncommon to find kernels of wheat or oats (or pebbles) in with the lentils.
11) Be especially alert and cautious when you have new staff helping in the kitchen – they will not have your gluten awareness so proper training is an asset! The Coeliac Society of Ireland would be happy to provide this for staff.
12) Removing garnishes from an already prepared meal will not remove the gluten contamination.
Additional Information Regarding Sources of cross contamination
- Proper storage of gluten free foods/products away from sources of gluten to prevent cross-contamination. This could be a separate shelf, cupboard, and fridge or designated area of the kitchen/pantry. This is especially important when working with flours/grains which can easily contaminate gluten free flours/grains. Store gluten free stuff above gluten containing stuff.
- Handling of gluten free grains on equipment that has been used for regular grains and has not been thoroughly cleaned
- Kitchen prep areas, appliances & utensils including: counter space, cutting boards, knives, spoons, etc, muffin tins, cake pans, cookie trays, toasters/toaster ovens, & fryers (French fries cooked in oil where battered foods have been fried).
- Meat cooked on a grill which hasn’t been cleaned after cooking regular food with gluten. (Gluten cannot be “burned off” a grill or from an oven with extreme heat).
- Products in bulk bins can become contaminated by using the scoops in more than one bin. There is no assurance that the other customers will be as cautious as you. Also, flour dust in the air around these bins can cause a problem.
- At the deli counter where gluten free meats are being cut using the same utensils as those used to cut normal sandwiches without cleaning in between. Also, the cut meats often overlap on the counter which could cause a domino effect of cross contamination.
- Buffet lunches, where the chef tests the temperatures in all the dishes using one thermometer, or spoons are used for more than one dish.
- In manufacturing, if a gf product is on the same production line where gluten containing products have also been manufactured cereals and candy bars that have gluten free ingredients may be produced after a non GF item without having the equipment cleaned thoroughly in between.
The 14 allergens that need to be declared
Celery: Includes celery stalks, leaves, seeds, and celeriac. Also found in celery salt, salads, some meat products, soups, and stock cubes.
Cereals containing Gluten: Includes wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt. It also includes foods containing flour such as, batter, breadcrumbs, bread, cakes, couscous, processed meats, pasta, pastry and sauces.
Crustaceans: Includes prawns, lobster, scampi, crab, shrimp paste
Eggs: Also used in cake, mousses, sauces, pasta, quiche, and some meat products. Also in mayonnaise and foods brushed with egg
Fish: Also found in some salad dressings, pizzas, sauces, fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce
Peanuts: Also found in sauces, cakes, desserts, groundnut oil, and peanut flour
Soya: Can be in the form of tofu or bean curd. Also found in soya flour, textured vegetable protein, in some ice cream, sauces, desserts, meat products, vegetarian products
Milk: In yogurt, cream, cheese, butter milk powders, and foods glazed with milk
Nuts: In sauces, desserts, crackers, bread, ice creams, marzipan, ground almonds, nut oils
Mustard: Including liquid mustard, powdered mustard, and mustard seeds. Can also be found in salad dressings, marinades, soups, sauces, curries, and meat products
Sesame: Found in bread, breadsticks, tahini, hummus, sesame oil
Sulphites/Sulphur Dioxides: Found in meat products, fruit juice drinks, dried fruit, dried vegetables, beer, and wine
Lupin: seeds and flour in some types of bread and pastries
Molluscs: Includes mussels, whelks, squid, land snails, and found in oyster sauce
There is a lot of ongoing work in the area of the provision of allergen labelling for foods in restaurants. The Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) of the HSE, acting under service contract to FSAI, are responsible for enforcing all food legislation in food businesses such as restaurants and takeaways that serve food to the public. This includes enforcement of the legislation relating to allergens in loose foods. As part of this role EHOs will provide information on the compliance tools to comply with allergen labelling rules, such as those provided by FSAI [ Allergen checklist form , Booklet: Allergen Information for non-prepacked foods and MenuCal]. EHOs will also where necessary take enforcement action for non-compliance with allergen legislation. This may include formal legal action.
In addition the FSAI provides a free email and SMS text service which directly informs people with a food allergy who are registered with FSAI of the undeclared presence of allergens in foods – interested consumers can sign up online at www.fsai.ie/subscribe. ( though it is for all EU identified allergens and not just cereals containing gluten)
Making a Gluten-Free claim on the Restaurant Menu
There is a law around the use of the term “Gluten-Free” and this requires actively managing the level of gluten in the food you prepare in the restaurant. It means a good understanding of the legislation which relates to Gluten-Free food. It means good work practices and good gluten management controls. Above all, it means good communication with all staff so that they fully understand their role in your compliance. “Gluten-Free” can only be used to refer to food which has 20 parts per million (ppm) or less of gluten.
If your food does not comply with this legislation, you cannot make a Gluten-Free claim. You can make a factual statement explaining that the ingredients used are gluten free but that the food served in your restaurant is made in a mixed food environment. Environmental Health is on hand to give advice on this legislation
Safe Food Guidelines
Another resource is this Poster for the Catering Industry with Allergen warnings that you may find useful to put in your kitchen for staff.