Rise in coeliac disease leads to greater scrutiny of ‘gluten free’

By Wright Communications

"Coeliac New Zealand aims to minimise any risk of gluten being consumed by developing a gluten free accreditation programme for restaurants and eateries," said Carl Sunderland, General Manager, Coeliac New Zealand.

"Simple things like dining out, sports trips, air travel, or even Friday night takeaways become magnified by the risk of gluten slipping into the food.

"For people living with coeliac disease, the threat of being accidentally 'glutened,' is nerve-wracking. Even the tiniest crumb can cause severe stomach pain, diarrhoea, bloating, headaches or vomitting. In fact most coeliacs say they are scared to consume food outside of their home," he added.

"Our new Dining Out Programme ('DOP') will ensure that eateries offering gluten free selections will be able to substantiate their claims - an important aspect in a marketplace where electing to eat gluten free has become quite trendy and many eateries and manufacturers are simply jumping on the bandwagon," he said.

To ensure the programme attracts widespread support Coeliac NZ has enlisted the help of leading dietician and immunologist Anna Richards.

Mr Sunderland highlighted that Ms Richards had both a large following and significant reputation within the coeliac and medical community and her profile was a positive factor in attracting leading cafe's, restaurants and a takeaway chain to pursue accreditation.

Restaurants signed up to the DOP pilot are Charley Noble Eatery & Bar in Wellington; the Hip Group cafe's including St Heliers Bay Cafe & Bistro and Takapuna Beach Cafe, Ballantynes in Christchurch; and the Hell Pizza chain - representing a first for quick service food.

Businesses only become accredited for the DOP once staff  have successfully completed a training programme and the venue has successfully passed an independent audit of safe food handling and accreditation procedures.

"The end result is that DOP accredited restaurants, cafes and quick service outlets can then differentiate and market themselves as a safe choice for coeliacs, their friends and family.

"Friends and family are typically influenced in their selection of where or what to eat by the dietary requirements of the coeliac sufferer.  People rarely dine out alone. Restaurants and cafes that position themselves as an accredited gluten free business under Coeliac New Zealand's new DOP will, we believe, be extremely well supported by kiwis and visitors to NZ," said Mr Sunderland.

The DOP is another Coeliac New Zealand strategy for effectively supporting people living with coeliac disease and adds to the measures already in place such as the Crossed Grain Logo, indicating the product has been independently laboratory tested to contain no detectable gluten as per the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) guidelines for gluten free food.



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