UK Sets Gluten-free Rules for Caterers

The UK has us beat in a few respects when it comes to gluten-free awareness and options. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – the world is a small place, information travels, and we’re certainly not in a competition.

So, in the spirit of sharing information, I’m pleased to share this nifty flow chart that Britain’s Food Standards Agency has created. The chart is designed to help caterers, and is linked to a detailed set of standards designed to protect celiacs (or, better said, coeliacs).

Although the information was published earlier this month – to coincide with National Coeliac Awareness Week – the regulations will not go into effect until January 1, 2012.

The new rules allow caterers to make two distinct claims. First, they are able to claim a food as gluten-free if it contains less than 20ppm gluten. Second, there is a tier for “very low gluten” options, which may contain up to 100ppm gluten. This second tier also leaves room for specially processed ingredients, for example hydrolyzed wheat starch where the gluten has been sufficiently broken-down so as not to be considered toxic.

Given the murky, scary gray area that dining out can be – especially when it’s not in a restaurant setting, but a catered event of some sort – it’s nice to see a set of guidelines put into place to force caterers to educate themselves and their staff.

While the rules themselves won’t directly help anyone eat safely outside of the UK, the flow chart is another matter altogether. It’s a fairly simple set of questions – nothing groundbreaking or especially difficult to answer – but helpful nevertheless. You can see it by clicking on the link at the bottom of this article from Eat Out magazine; I’d love to see something comparable hanging in commercial kitchens on this side of the Atlantic.

What sort of experiences have you had with catered events?

3 thoughts on “UK Sets Gluten-free Rules for Caterers”

  1. My daughter after being diagnosed at age 11 was subsequently invited to quite a few bar and bat mitzvahs; caterers were tepid at best to accomodate her needs but did with phone requests….the best thing that they were able to do was to keep sauces off of dishes such as grilled chicken or steak….

    Now with prom season upon us, it will be interesting to see if that is changed…

  2. My daughter is planning a 2012 wedding, so I have been in contact with an event planner. It seems as though GF meals can be selected from the menu (but even that means knowing the ingredients in the products used), or dishes which have sauces the sauce can be left off, or I can supply the caterer with whatever GF item(s) I desire, which means that I can make a gluten free sauce or provide them with a gf coating and they will prepare the dish. At $25.00 or more per person, I am not inclined to prepare part of my meal. He will supply appetizers w/o crust, etc. Maybe, I would be willing to provide them with recipes and some GF all-purpose flour . That is a big Maybe, too. It appears as though the planner is openminded. In addition to being gluten intolerant, I am also soy and dairy intolerant. It will be interesting to see how they handle those restrictions.

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