Eating out can be a daunting task for someone with Celiac disease or a gluten allergy. Luckily, many restaurants are expanding their menus to include allergy friendly options. The movement towards gluten-free awareness is exciting news for Celiac sufferers everywhere.
The only potential downside is the risk of cross contamination. If servers or kitchen staff are unaware of the risks, they can inadvertently contaminate a dish. Often, people with a gluten allergy do not want to be an inconvenience by telling the server how the food needs to be prepared. Asking a few simple questions can ease the process and give peace of mind (and stomach).
Servers and cooks need to be made aware that an order is gluten-free for allergy purposes and not just part of a diet. Certain steps can be taken to ensure gluten-free meals are prepared safely. Gloves need to be changed to a fresh pair. This may seem excessive but many people are sensitive enough to react to even the smallest residue from gluten.
Cooking utensils and surfaces need to be sanitized or swapped out for clean ones. An easy solution is to cover the cooking surface with tin foil. It still conducts heat, but prevents gluten particles from coming in contact with the food.
If a mistake is made, the staff need to be informed that only replacing the incorrect item may not catch all contaminates. A fresh, entirely new dish must be made to ensure the safety of the guest. These simple steps can help avoid insurmountable hassle for both parties.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) offers “Gluten-Free Resource Education and Awareness” (GREAT). Restaurants can complete this training to offer safer options for their guests. Staff are trained on the proper methods for preparing and serving meals to customers and avoiding potential cross contamination. Check the website www.celiaccentral.org/kitchens for more information.