Getting Free-from Right
Whether it’s a gluten, dairy or meat-free diet, consumers want – and in some cases need – more food establishments need to take on board diverse dietary requirements and alter their menu accordingly. It could also be good for business. Coeliac UK claims that the industry is losing £100m a year in lost covers from people with coeliac disease who require gluten-free dishes when they eat out.
Make it special
“A survey conducted with over 3,000 people with coeliac disease highlighted that they still feel that eating out is a lottery and that many eating out establishments lack knowledge and understanding about offering safe food,” said Kathryn Miller, Coeliac UK head of food policy. “Awareness of gluten free is increasing, with the market rowing year on year. For caterers willing to go the extra mile and provide gluten-free options there is a clear business benefit.”
So how can the industry do better?
“It’s clear many operators are doing what they can to make consumers more confident when eating out, through clearer communication about ingredients and a greater range of free-from dishes,” says Steven Pike, managing director of HospitalityGEM. “However, the identification of staff training as an area in need of improvement should encourage the operator to look hard at their sites and how team members are briefed on this important aspect of food service. It should be part of any induction and also revisited regularly as menus and teams change.”
Make it work
Labelling food free from certain allergens, meat or gluten on menus or packaging reassures and shows customers they can eat without fear of cross contamination. Making simple substitutions to ingredients can increase the options available on the menu. These simple steps can make a big difference. To develop gluten-free menus or dishes, there are many alternative products and ingredients that chefs can use as substitutes.
Here’s a few gluten-free tips:
• Use corn flour or potato starch for thickening, ensure stock is gluten free, and use gluten-free flour in coatings
• Ingredients such as; meat, fish and poultry, fruit and vegetables, pulses, beans and rice, milk, cream and eggs are naturally gluten free. Some processed meats are not gluten free
• Gluten-free grains to experiment with are: quinoa, buckwheat and millet
• Control cross contamination risk in the kitchen by using clean or dedicated utensils for gluten free. Clean surfaces
before preparation and ensure gluten free ingredients are stored, sealed or away from gluten-containing ingredients like flour
• Train staff in knowledge and production of gluten-free meals
• Visit www.coeliac.org.uk for more info or get involved with Coeliac UK’s
Awareness Week 9-15 May 2016
Source: Coeliac UK
MAGGI® has launched the Gluten Free Challenge brochure to help caterers in the educational sector respond to the increasing gluten intolerance or diet choices of children and young adults. It includes gluten-free sauces, advice on how to avoid cross contamination, hints and recipes. “Catering for intolerances is one of the biggest needs to emerge in recent years so it’s vital that chefs get their offering spot-on so as not to alienate people,” says Jason Rodriques, MAGGI® brand manager at NESTLÉ PROFESSIONAL®. “For the majority of chefs, lack of time is one of the biggest issues they face and many don’t have the resources to produce multiple sauces and gravies from start to finish. So, when it comes to catering for vegetarians and those with allergies, chefs are increasingly turning to the convenience of ready-made sauces and gravies, which can cater to a range of dietary requirements in just one pot.”
MAGGI® has launched a Gluten Free Vegetarian Gravy, Gluten Free Mashed Potato Flakes and Gluten Free Coconut
Milk Powder Mix to help caterers produce delicious, gluten-free meals.
With studies finding that vegetarians are less likely to be obese or diagnosed with heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes it’s no wonder more consumers are opting for meat-free diets – or just having less of it when eating out.“We’re seeing a huge rise in ‘flexitarians’ or ‘meat-reducers’ – in fact, recent figures from Mintel showed 35% of Brits are now identified as ‘semi-vegetarian’,” says Will Matier, managing director at Vegetarian Express, supplier and consultant to the catering industry. “Quinoa was big news last year and is continuing to be a staple on menus thanks to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the fact it is naturally gluten free, low in fat and high in protein.” Other grains, such as hemp seeds, are due to be popular this year. “They are a quick way of adding nutritional benefits to dishes – simply toss on top of salads and soups or stir through a winter warming porridge,” adds Will.
On 13 December 2014 the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation came into force. It requires food businesses to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged, in for example catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars.
Click here for a Gluten Free Indian Chicken & Chickpea Curry recipe