Tag Archives: allergen laws

Brixham Yacht Club sails through its gluten free training

Brixham Yacht Club

News release

25th October 2016

Brixham Yacht Club, has recently undertaken Droppa & Droppa’s gluten free training. The purpose of the training is to assist the catering industry in effectively managing a gluten free diet in terms of ease of staff training and environmental health compliance. Commodore, David Faithful, approached Droppa & Droppa because he felt the club needed to improve and standardise its procedures for gluten free diners, “….due to being asked to provide meals on a regular basis for its members”.

Dennis Burke, Head Chef, Brixham Yacht Club
Dennis Burke, Head Chef, Brixham Yacht Club
Dennis Burke, Head Chef, explained, “Although we are a private members’ club, we do have members’ guests and offer corporate functions, so it is important that we are fully conversant with gluten free. I have been a chef for 30 years, and yet I feel I have learnt a lot more about preparing foods using gluten free ingredients in a safe environment….as well as current legislation and some good practical tips.”

As ex-gluten free food manufacturers, and the fact that Jocelyn Droppa is a coeliac, Droppa & Droppa is very well placed to provide this training. There are many issues with eating out as a coeliac and the training endeavours to address these issues, so that diners not only feel confident about being catered for, but also so do the companies doing the catering. Droppa & Droppa has close ties with both DEFRA and the FSA to ensure the product is timely and up to date.

Gluten free grilled fillet of plaice with lemon and parsley butter for lunch at Brixham Yacht Club
Gluten free grilled fillet of plaice with lemon and parsley butter for lunch at Brixham Yacht Club
Coeliac consumers are far more discerning in eating out than they used to be. The days of providing just a salad with a jacket potato are rapidly diminishing. Furthermore, the way that the food is plated and served has to be managed carefully to ensure that the food provided remains gluten free from start to finish.

As with any busy establishment, it’s hard to juggle day-to-day service requirements, writing and implementing new menus and still find the time to train your staff to a standard where customers are afforded the level of service they deserve. The Brixham Yacht Club has rolled out the training to its staff, so everyone has a good understanding, there are solid procedures in place and the business as a whole is compliant within the eyes of the law.

Gluten free stuffed tomatoes and grilled halloumi for lunch at Brixham Yacht Club
Gluten free stuffed tomatoes and grilled halloumi for lunch at Brixham Yacht Club
The training can be replayed time and time again either on line, or via a DVD. This means the product serves a dual purpose – not only does it act as a training tool for new and seasonal staff, but also as a refresher for existing staff. Upon successful completion of the training, the establishment is provided with a certificate of accreditation.


For further information, please contact:
Ferenc Droppa, Director, Droppa & Droppa Limited, 01237 420417, www.glutenfreetraining.co.uk
Daniel Bailey, Hospitality Manager, Brixham Yacht Club, 01803 853332, http://www.brixhamyachtclub.com

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.

No Gluten Containing Ingredients – NGCI….again!

I received a statement from the Food Standards Agency last week clarifying the use of the term No Gluten Containing Ingredients – NGCI. This is the statement:

Prepacked foods
What’s changed
NGCI labelling on prepacked foods is being phased out from 20 July 2016.

By 20 February 2018, we expect food businesses to bring their labels into compliance. Until then, food businesses can continue to place on the market prepacked foods with NGCI labels until those label stocks have been exhausted.

We also advise food businesses to share their approaches on reaching compliance with their enforcement officers, especially if it might not be possible to change their labels by 20 February 2018

What’s not changing
NGCI can be used in describing positive lists of everyday foods or a selection of products available for sale in a shop or online.

Within these cases, NGCI can only be used as a factual statement when the business cannot guarantee their foods are gluten-free.

Non-prepacked foods/ menus
What’s changed
A NGCI statement, which relates to any single dish on a menu, is being phased out from 20 July 2016. Descriptions such as “cottage pie: this dish has no gluten containing ingredients” should not be used.

By 20 February 2018, we expect food businesses to bring their menus into compliance. Where this is not possible, we advise food businesses to discuss approaches on reaching compliance with their enforcement officers.

What’s not changing
Food businesses can use NGCI in menus when listing a group of products/ dishes or in menu titles, to indicate that all the items in question do not have gluten containing ingredients. Examples include “(menu title) No gluten containing ingredients menu” or statements such as “All dishes on this menu do not use gluten containing ingredients”.

So, as discussed in my previous blog The Case for No Gluten Containing Ingredients, what this fundamentally means for restaurants is that they will need to have a separate menu (or a least a separate part of the menu) clarifying which dishes do not contain any gluten ingredients if they wish to label the dishes with allergen information relating to gluten.

It’s not just ‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients – NGCI’…

…there are no fewer than seven terms in circulation today. Some can be used on their own, whereas others can only be used in combination with one of the other terms. Here’s a list of the various ‘gluten free’ terms in circulation today:

‘gluten free’

This should only be used if you can consistently prove that the food item/dish contains less than or equal to 20 parts per million gluten.

‘very low gluten’

This should only be used if you can consistently prove that the food item/dish contains less than or equal to 100 parts per million gluten.

‘no gluten containing ingredients’

This is for non-prepacked foods. “No gluten containing ingredients – NGCI cannot be attributed to a single dish e.g. Cottage pie (NGCI). However, if you have a menu with sections listing starters, main courses and desserts, a section on NGCI choices is permissible. It’s also acceptable to use NGCI in menu titles provided that all the items do not use gluten containing ingredients, such as “No gluten containing ingredients menu” or statements such as “All dishes on this menu do not use gluten containing ingredients”.

The following four statements were introduced as recently as July 2016 and cannot be used on their own, they can only be used in conjunction with either ‘gluten free’ or ‘very low gluten’:

‘suitable for coeliacs’ and ‘suitable for people intolerant to gluten’

These statements can be used for naturally gluten free foods where a consumer might think the food could contain gluten. It would not be appropriate to use these statements for products like tea, fresh fruit and nuts, which do not contain gluten anyway.

‘specifically formulated for coeliacs’ and ‘specifically formulated for people intolerant to gluten’

These statements can be used for specially manufactured foods that have been prepared to reduce the gluten content of one or more ingredients; or a gluten-containing ingredient that has been substituted with one or more naturally free of gluten ingredients, e.g. foods that are available on prescription.

If you run a food business – here’s a PDF explaining the use of the terms ‘gluten free’ and ‘no gluten containing ingredients’, and where they apply: should I be using the term ‘gluten free’ or ‘no gluten containing ingredients’?
no gluten containing ingredients - NGCI

What’s in a name?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and having just returned from a flying visit to London, it really is farcical. Food outlets still advertise gluten free food as ‘gluten free’ and we, as coeliacs, still ask for gluten free food. The clunky ‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients – NGCI’ term rarely gets used by coeliacs and/or food providers. Can we not just accept that the term ‘gluten free’ will always be around and instead of fighting against it, we embrace it?

We all know that food in sealed packaging labelled as gluten free has been tested for the level of gluten and that it can only be labelled as such if it can be proven. However, the term ‘gluten free’ in a restaurant, cafe, etc means something completely different. It should mean (as does ‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients – NGCI’) that processes and procedures are in place to manage the food to minimise contamination, but this is not always the case.

I accept that if someone has used the term ‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients – NGCI’ then it does show some sort of thought process and therefore, one hopes, an understanding of managing the catering of a gluten free diet. However, so many food outlets pay not a jot of attention to it and put up big signs saying ‘gluten free’.

Interestingly, what was significant about my trip to London is how many establishments didn’t know what ingredients were used in their foods/dishes and more worryingly did not have easy access to a full ingredients list. This was made law way back in December 2014 and here we are today and still food outlets don’t have the full information to hand.

However, the biggest issue is – and seemingly will always be – that no matter what terminology is used, there is still inadequate training, understanding and policing of serving gluten free (or No Gluten Containing Ingredients – NGCI) foods. Environmental Health and Trading Standards are stretched beyond their capabilities and thus no-one is able to manage this effectively. In an ideal world, when such statements are made, there should be some sort of reassurance that the assertions are true, however, I can’t think of another way to check the understanding of food establishments other than to ask to see the processes they have in place. Can you imagine, before I sit down I ask to be shown to the kitchen and spend ten minutes going through what ingredients my meal contains and how it is prepared and plated – hmmmm I can see that working!

All I want is that whether an establishment says ‘gluten free’, or ‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients – NGCI’, that they understand what that means and that they take care and attention in preparing it so that the risk of me being ill (and others) is minimised.