Staff allergen training is key

Manage the law change with staff allergen training

http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/ recently published an article on how restaurants have changed their policies since the law change in December 2014. The article quotes the Head of Marketing of Pho, which has made most of its menu gluten free, as explaining that the key to handling allergies is staff training and communication with customers.

14 EU Allergens
The 14 EU Allergens

CCGs and prescriptions

Over the last few weeks the news wires have included the usual stories about CCGs and prescriptions. http://www.piratefm.co.uk reports that cuts are required in Cornwall and one of the areas being considered is prescriptions for gluten free. The same is true of Lincolnshire https://www.coeliac.org.uk/. This now seems to be happening all over and despite consistent arguments about the impact on the elderly and vulnerable http://www.piratefm.co.uk it is snowballing.

Whether the NHS is paying above the odds for prescription foods is also an issue, however my personal biggest concern is that because supermarkets wield so much power and only stock items for profit, what happens to the availability of staple gluten free items when the gluten free bubble bursts and they can no longer shift gluten free food as rapidly as they would like? This leads me nicely onto the next topic…..

Has the gluten free bubble burst?

Not according to http://www.just-food.com/. John Shepherd quotes the market research firm, MarketsandMarkets, whose studies have shown that in 2015 the global market value of gluten free foods was US$4.63bn and that is set to almost double by 2020.

He also looks at the potential for growth in other markets and discusses whether France is the next major market for expansion. France is behind the UK, USA and Australia in terms of gluten free food and it is thought that the reason for that is because the focus of French cuisine is more traditional than other countries. However, that is slowly changing. I have mixed feelings about this. If the French do embrace gluten free, do you think with their love of food, they could make it healthier, fresher, with less salt and sugar and not accept some of the sub-standard products we do?

On the other side of the coin http://www.fooddive.com questions whether the gluten free market has actually reached saturation point. The same research was published in http://www.foodbusinessnews.net. The article reports “Sales of gluten-free foods have peaked, said David Sprinkle, research director for the market research firm Packaged Facts.” The article does go on to say that it’s not yet in decline though. One reason given for the slowing down of the market is that finally consumers are realising that ‘going gluten free’ is not necessarily healthier (especially if they eat processed substitutes) but moreover they won’t necessarily lose weight on a gluten free diet.

However, the news is still full of articles about losing weight and whether eating wheat makes you bloated and listless, but the trend seems to be slowly reversing with just as many, if not more, articles counteracting fanciful health claims – http://www.themalaymailonline.com/, http://www.express.co.uk/ and https://www.thrillist.com/.

A gluten free pill

I have read quite a few reports about this recently. Both the http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ and http://www.dailymail.co.uk report that there is a pill that can be taken to prevent the symptoms of digesting gluten. The way it works is that it breaks down the gluten into tiny molecules so that the body doesn’t react. The manufacturers of the pill state that it is not a cure for coeliac disease but its intended use is where gluten intolerant people may doubt the gluten free levels of the meal they are about to eat. I, personally, would consider taking this on holiday or somewhere where I had a string of important events to attend. I would like to read more research on this, so will write about that at a later date.

How much gluten?

The coeliac society in Australia has called for an international standard for gluten free. http://www.stuff.co.nz reports “In an analysis of 169 imported food products labelled “gluten-free”, published in the The Medical Journal of Australia, researchers detected gluten in 24 products, albeit in “extremely low levels”.” Other journals also reported the same thing (https://www.mja.com.au/, http://www.news.com.au/ and http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/10/04/how-much-gluten-is-actually-in-gluten-free-foods/).

The crux of the matter is does Europe and the USA upgrade its ‘gluten free’ claim to less that 1ppm of gluten (as is the law in Australia and New Zealand) or does Australasia downgrade to less than 20ppm? There are scientific arguments for both sides, but it would be nice for them all to agree on a standard so that international goods can safely be consumed by coeliacs.

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