The foodservice and hospitality industry’s awareness and knowledge about gluten diets is growing and many restaurant chains offer gluten free menus. Even some fast food restaurants now offer gluten free options.
It is still possible to run into issues at a restaurant, in most cases, the problem isn't gluten containing ingredients in the food itself—it's cross contamination or lack of understanding from the restaurant staff.
Therefore, we have put together these top tips to help avoid any problems:
Do a bit of research.
It’s fun to go out on a whim, but that’s not always possible when following a gluten-free diet.
Have a look at the restaurants websites before you go. Look for dedicated gluten-free menus and markers that items are or can be made gluten-free.
It’s also a good idea to call the restaurant before you go and talk to the manager or chef. This is your best way of getting your concerns answered clearly and directly and you will get a feel if the restaurant fully understands the importance of your diet.
Ask a few questions.
Here are some questions you might try:
- Do you have a gluten-free menu?
- Do you have any specific gluten-free menu options?
- Can you modify menu options to make them gluten-free?
- How is this dish prepared?
What are the specific ingredients? For example:
- Does the salad contain croutons, wheat-based noodles or a dressing with wheat-based ingredients or malt vinegar?
- Is there flour in the seasonings?
- Does the soy sauce contain wheat?
- Is the meat, fish or poultry dusted or dredged with flour or bread crumbs before grilling or frying?
- Do the burgers contain wheat flour, wheat starch, bread crumbs or seasonings with wheat?
- How are kitchen staff notified when there is a gluten-free order?
- What do you do to avoid cross-contamination?
- Is there a separate preparation area for gluten-free foods?
- Are there separate utensils?
- Is there a dedicated gluten-free fryer?
- Remember, if you don’t feel confident from the responses you receive, or it seems like you’re having to educate the staff, you might want to reconsider.
Look out for Coeliac UK's GF symbol on menus and in the windows of accredited venues. The GF symbol on a menu tells you that the dish is gluten-free according to the law and that the caterer meets all requirements of the Gluten-free standard which covers all aspects of gluten-free preparation and ensures training is in place.
Before you tuck in...
When your meal arrives, always double-check that it is yours and confirm it is gluten free. That way, you will avoid accidentally biting into a regular burger while your friend enjoys your gluten free version.