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  ANNABEL MACKENZIE

                                                          DIETITIAN AND NUTRITION CONSULTANT

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Why Gluten Free?

Recently the gluten free diet has been given the limelight through celebrity endorsement and as a result it has a following with the impression the diet is a healthy alternative lifestyle with the promises of enhanced athletic performance and sustainable weight loss.  This is only true if one is medically sensitive to gluten, and this sensitivity is real!  

Gluten is a simple protein present in 4 grains - wheat, rye, barley and oats (this also includes the hybrids, such as spelt).  The most defined medical condition that requires a strict gluten free diet is coeliac disease.  Coeliac disease is an auto-immune condition, when gluten passes through the digestive system, it causes the body to attack itself at the level of the gut lining.  So you can't see this damage, but if the damage persists it can lead to cancer, osteoporosis, malnutrition (absorption of nutrients), fatigue, diarrhoea, vomiting.....and the list continues as every individual reacts differently.   Other conditions shown to benefit from being on a gluten free diet include NCGS (non-coeliac gluten sensitivity), DH (dermatitis herpetiformis) and ASD (autism spectrum disorder).

Research has shown that the gluten free diet in these cases must strictly have no gluten.  It is not a case of a little bit won't hurt - yes it will!  If there is going to be a crumb of gluten, you may as well have a kilo, as they will both yield the same result and the same amount of damage.

If catering gluten free one must consider various aspects to ensure the final product served is going to be safe for the affected individual to consume.  It is essential for caterers to:

  • know and understand the regulations for gluten free
  • source appropriate and reliable gluten free ingredients
  • avoid cross contamination during every stage of preparation from transport, storage, preparation to delivery
  • cleaning of surfaces, utensils, hands and uniform
  • effective communication from individual to the kitchen and delivery of the final product
  • effective staff training
  • product testing
  • documentation of processes, menu, ingredients and complaints

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