The information here will help you and your staff to prepare gluten-free food safely. Preparing gluten-free food requires extra precautions in procurement, storage, hygiene, preparation and service.
First of all it’s a good idea to know the basics of coeliac disease.
Kitchen staff need to be aware of:
- the suitability of ingredients.
- the suitability of drinks, particularly beer and soft drinks.
- the importance of following kitchen processes to ensure food is gluten-free.
It is important that if it is not possible to provide a safe gluten-free meal, then say so!
Use these guidelines for sourcing ingredients for gluten-free food.
- All pre-packaged ingredient should be gluten-free, complying with EU legislation EU No 828/2014.
- If you use part-prepared ingredients, make sure they are gluten-free.
- Ensure the supplier has processes in place to avoid cross-contamination.
- Agree the composition and quality of raw ingredients when making the purchasing contract.
- Acquire a certificate of gluten analysis (a gluten test result) when accepting deliveries of naturally gluten-free flours and grains. Gluten-free flours and grains eg rice flour, soya flour, gram flour can be at risk of cross contamination with gluten.
- You will also need to check specifications for information on allergens in the foods, pre-packaged foods allergenic foods will be emphasised in the ingredients list
- Pass on all information received from the supplier about changes in the composition of raw ingredients and lists of ingredients to the people responsible for preparing and serving the food as well as to customers.
- Use reliable suppliers.
Gluten-free raw ingredients need to be stored in their original closed packages or in covered containers in a separate and marked area in the store, cupboards or shelves. Attach the labels that the raw ingredient arrived with to the container. Storing prepared gluten-free products ready to eat must be arranged separately so that there is no risk of mixing gluten-free products with ordinary products. Bread and confectionery products must be covered and marked even if they are to be served soon.
Good hygiene for gluten-free food preparation requires extra precautions. Persons handling gluten-free products must understand that gluten-free products may get contaminated with flour dust carried on hands, clothes, work surfaces and in the air. There must be a cleaning plan in place and a person in charge of its implementation. Critical control points include work surfaces, cooling and storing areas and floors. Temporary workforce must also be guided in preventing gluten contamination by hygiene and working methods.
Preparation starts with the ingredients and the recipe. All ingredients must be gluten-free when preparing meals for coeliacs. Ensure that none of the ingredients have become “cross-contaminated” by other foods containing gluten. In practise gluten-free products are prepared with the same equipment, dishes and utensils as ordinary products in large kitchens and there is a risk of gluten contamination.
- Wash hands before handling gluten-free foods, especially after other food preparation.
- Ensure all equipment, dishes and utensils are clean.
- Designate a separate toaster for gluten-free bread. Alternatively Toastabags can be used.
- Use separate breadboards for gluten-free bread.
- Use a clean colander for gluten-free pasta.
- Gluten-free fried food should be cooked in clean frying oil, not oil that has been used previously used to cook breaded or battered non-gluten-free products.
- Prepare gluten-free products before ordinary products or completely isolate production if possible.
- If any mistakes are made, the dish is cross-contaminated and needs to be prepared again. Removing croutons from a salad, or a wafer from an ice cream does not make the dish gluten-free.
Once food has been prepared, plates and dishes of gluten-free food must be clearly marked as gluten-free. It may be useful to serve gluten-free food on a different coloured plate to gluten containing food to alert front-of-house staff.