By Laura (The Gluten-Free Traveller)
How aware is the chef or the staff at your favorite gluten-free restaurant? Can you be certain that the person preparing your meal fully understands what celiac disease is and what you can and cannot eat? I would certainly hope so, but recent research suggests that this may not always be the case.
When you’re celiac, eating out is about trusting a stranger to keep you safe. It can be a pretty anxiety filled experience so we need to know that whoever is cooking for us is taking it seriously and that they know what they are doing. Personally I have a whole bunch of questions I ask when eating out to ensure I get a safe meal, but I would hope that the chef at any restaurant offering gluten-free options would have more than a basic understanding of celiac disease.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) are a non-profit organization who work to raise awareness and improve the lives of those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. At the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago last month, the NFCA decided to find out what the awareness of chefs and restaurateurs is like when it comes to celiac disease by quizzing them on some of the basics of celiac disease.
They were asked just four questions but less than 4% of them were able to answer them all correctly. Scary enough that restaurant professionals wouldn’t have this basic knowledge but what’s even more worrying is that most of them claimed to have gluten free options at their restaurants! How exactly can restaurants be offering gluten-free options if they don’t even understand the basics of celiac disease?
One of the four questions they were asked was ‘Gluten is a protein found in what 3 common grains? Can you name all 3?
Less than 50% of chefs questioned could name a gluten containing grain other than wheat. This is pretty terrifying! When I eat out I’m often worried about cross contamination or hidden sources of gluten but I wouldn’t have thought I’d also have to worry whether or not the person cooking my meal is even aware that I can’t eat barley or rye!
What are your thoughts on this? Are you surprised?