Blog Posts

A crumb is enough – coeliac disease on Saturday Kitchen

21.09.2021 | by Juvela

This weekend, Scottish singer Sharleen Spiteri appeared on a television program called Saturday Kitchen. Sharleen has coeliac disease, and some viewers were left concerned by the show’s response to her condition. Has awareness of coeliac disease gone far enough for the public to realise that a crumb of gluten is enough to make a coeliac unwell?

Coeliac and gluten free communities on social media have expressed concern that the show was dismissive of Sharleen’s condition and missed an opportunity to educate viewers about coeliac disease. 

Similarly, gluten free blogger Kasia (@kasiasplate) raised concerns about the lack of awareness around cross contamination on the show:

It would have been helpful for them to mention the seriousness of cross contamination and separate prep. It was worrying to see a chef pass it off as ‘we don’t need to hear about coeliac disease’ and give Sharleen a plate with bread on it. The food looked lovely – but we do need to educate people. I’d hate for people to think it is ok to just scrape our food off the bread.

What is cross contamination?
Cross contamination refers to when food gluten-containing food touches gluten free food. A crumb of gluten is enough to make a person with coeliac disease unwell, triggering symptoms from diarrhoea and vomiting to dizziness and fatigue. Some people are ‘silent coeliacs’, where they don’t experience symptoms after eating gluten.

However, regularly eating even tiny amounts of gluten will still cause damage to their intestines. All people with coeliac disease need to follow a strict gluten free diet and cross contamination presents a risk to their health. Untreated coeliac disease can result in long-term health complications such as osteoporosis, bowel cancer and fertility issues. 

In this episode of Saturday Kitchen, viewers spotted that Sharleen's food wasn't prepared in a separate area and she was served her food with a slice of gluten-containing bread on the side. 

Raising AwarenessCoeliac disease is a common autoimmune condition affecting 1 in 100 people, but only around 30% of those with the condition are diagnosed. It's really important to raise awareness about coeliac disease so that people understand the importance of a strict gluten free diet and avoiding cross contamination. CoeliacUK is the charity for people that need to live without gluten. Each year between 10th - 16th May, they run Coeliac Awareness Week as part of their mission to raise awareness about coeliac disease. If you have coeliac disease and are active on social media, share your story or some facts about coeliac disease to spread the word!

Eating Out with Coeliac DiseaseEating out with coeliac disease can be a worry but asking the right questions can go a long way. We advise getting in touch with the restaurant beforehand when possible, to ask if they have gluten free options that are safe for coeliacs. This means that they can guarantee that gluten free food is made in a separate area away from other food, with different utensils, and cooked in separate oil.

Read our guide on eating out

About JuvelaWe’re the UK’s leading provider of gluten free food on prescription. We've been making a range of everyday essentials for people with coeliac disease for over 25 years, because we believe that gluten shouldn't get in the way of a good meal. Find out more about Juvela products and gluten free prescriptions.

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