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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac Society Urges Irish Restaurants to Take Gluten Free Eating Out Pledge

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Ireland's Gluten Free Eating Out Pledge promotes safe, reliable gluten-free meals in restaurants.

    Celiac Society Urges Irish Restaurants to Take Gluten Free Eating Out Pledge - Irish pub. Image: CC--manrovit
    Caption: Irish pub. Image: CC--manrovit

    Celiac.com 06/21/2019 - Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease in which gluten in food causes the body’s immune system to attack the gut. There is no cure. Celiac disease is a lifelong condition, and the only treatment is a strict gluten free diet.

    When people with celiac disease accidentally eat gluten, they can have bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pains and lethargy. Symptoms can last several days, and sometimes require medical attention.



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    Ireland has nearly 50,000 celiac disease sufferers among almost 5 million citizens. In an effort to improve menu offerings for Ireland’s celiac sufferers, the Coeliac Society of Ireland is calling on Ireland’s restaurateurs to take their Gluten Free Eating Out Pledge.

    Launched as part of Coeliac Awareness Week, the pledge is designed to encourage restaurants and cafes to reassure people with celiac disease that they can order gluten-free food with confidence.

    Under the terms of the Gluten Free Eating Out Pledge, restaurants agree to:

    1. Meet the Gluten Free Standards established by the Kitchen Safety Checklist
    2. Have staff members complete online catering training
    3. Clearly mark all gluten-free menu items with the gluten-free symbol, or offer a separate gluten-free menu

    What do you think about the idea? Should more restaurants commit to serving safe, reliable gluten-free meals? Share your thoughts below.



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    It would be wonderful not to have to worry if the restaurant we are eating in not only had gluten-free items on the menu but the staff where trained and understood the serious health ramification there guest might have with cross contamination. Not having to worry where your friends have picked as the restaurant, you would know right away. 

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    As retirees we eat out a lot.  It would be great if that would happen here in the US.  I agree that I take the chance of getting glutened when we eat out.  There are a couple of places near us that are great and I never have had obvious problems.  The hardest part is when traveling to find a reliable place to eat.  Having a nationwide restaurant list of perfectly safe restaurants would be fabulous.  I also have micro colitis so when I do have problems I wonder which it is.  According to my GI doc there really isn't a way to tell which one "got me".

     

     

     

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    16 hours ago, Guest Carlene said:

    As retirees we eat out a lot.  It would be great if that would happen here in the US.  I agree that I take the chance of getting glutened when we eat out.  There are a couple of places near us that are great and I never have had obvious problems.  The hardest part is when traveling to find a reliable place to eat.  Having a nationwide restaurant list of perfectly safe restaurants would be fabulous.  I also have micro colitis so when I do have problems I wonder which it is.  According to my GI doc there really isn't a way to tell which one "got me".

    In the U.S., I wish "gluten-free" on a menu truly indicates 'gluten-free using celiac protocols'.  There is too much confusion with gluten-free labeled menu items not necessarily being celiac safe.  So maybe another code needs to be adopted for celiac-safe restaurants & menus (how about a 'CS' code noting celiac safe).  It would be so much easier to eat out if capable restaurants could display a certification for celiac-safe standards & protocols.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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  • Related Articles

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 01/03/2014 - The United State Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has clarified what their recent gluten-free rule means for restaurants. When the FDA announced its gluten-free labeling standard in August, the agency said that, for restaurants, “any use of an FDA-defined food labeling claim (such as “fat free” or “low cholesterol”) on restaurant menus should be consistent with the respective regulatory definitions.
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    The FDA's updated Question & Answer, #9 under ‘Labeling’, now reads:
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    This definition is intended to provide a reliable way for people with celiac disease to avoid gluten, and we expect that restaurants’ use of “gluten-free” labeling will be consistent with the federal definition.
    The deadline for compliance with the rule is not until August 2014, although we have encouraged the food industry to bring its labeling into compliance with the new definition as soon as possible.
    Given the public health significance of “gluten-free” labeling, we encourage the restaurant industry to move quickly to ensure that its use of “gluten-free” labeling is consistent with the federal definition and look forward to working with the industry to support their education and outreach to restaurants.
    In addition, state and local governments play an important role in oversight of restaurants. We expect to work with our state and local government partners with respect to gluten-free labeling in restaurants. We will consider enforcement action as needed, alone or with other agencies, to protect consumers.
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    ACDA Statement on Gluten-free Regulation Regulation from the Federal Register FDA: Gluten-Free Labeling FDA: Gluten-Free Labeling Final Rule Q&A Consumer Update


    Tracy Grabowski
    Celiac.com 11/28/2016 - The title of my article might seem a little shocking to most of the celiac community. Why wouldn't I want restaurants to offer high quality, safe meals to those who suffer from celiac disease or from non-celiac gluten intolerance so they could also enjoy dining out with their family and friends like everyone else? It's not that I don't want restaurants to offer gluten-free options: I do. But, I want them to be high quality, high integrity, and offered by a properly trained and knowledgeable staff. Otherwise, I truly don't think your establishment should bother offering gluten-free options to your diners and guests.
    The truth is that genuinely gluten-free dishes should be more than just replacing a bun, or using a corn or rice version of pasta in your dishes. Claiming to be "gluten-free" or "celiac-friendly" needs to go much further than just claiming such or simply swapping a product for your gluten-free diner.
    Without the benefit of training and education, many restaurants are not going to take into account any cross-contamination factors such as where the food is prepared, or who has touched it (and what did they touch last?) or where the plate was prepped and cleaned. It doesn't consider the air-borne flour coating almost every surface of a bakery or kitchen, and, it certainly doesn't involve investigating ingredients in the finished dishes for "hidden" sources of wheat, rye, or barley whose derivatives (such as malt or "flavorings") might be lurking around the kitchen and in prepared foods.
    There are so many sources of cross-contamination that are simply not explored, or may not even be known by a dining establishment. Unless a typical restaurant or bakery staff is well-versed and knowledgeable in what to look for, the questions to ask, and the proper procedures that will ensure a safe dining experience for gluten-free guests, and until all of the sources of cross contamination are explored and eliminated, it is highly doubtful that a gluten-free dish is truly gluten-free at all.
    With the FDA's recent updates to the gluten-free standard, restaurants, bakeries and dining establishments need to start following suit. Anyone offering a gluten-free meal should be aware that not only are their customers expecting adherence to the 20ppm of gluten (or less) standard that has been accepted as the standard for certifying something is gluten-free, but that the FDA expects their dining establishment to live up to that standard.
    As with any product that comes to market with a claim, restaurant menus are subject to abide by the same guidelines. For instance, if you claim something is "reduced fat", then it better, by all means, be reduced fat from the original version of the same dish. The same principal applies to gluten-free dishes with the standards taking full affect in the summer months of 2014. If your restaurant claims it is gluten-free, then it better be gluten-free, and not just "assumed" gluten-free.
    Living in blissful ignorance can not be an option for restaurants or for any establishment offering gluten-free products. As with any other food allergy or intolerance (FAI) there can be dire consequences for not adhering to procedures for safe preparation and service of food. Not to mention the damage that can be done to an establishment's reputation should the word get out that their integrity or food knowledge is questionable.
    Personally, I believe restaurants have a lot to gain in terms of offering gluten-free meals, or menu options in their establishment. I believe that restaurants who establish—and enforce- gluten-free procedures to eliminate cross contamination, accidental exposure, and provide training to their staff can benefit greatly in terms of business growth and satisfied repeat guests and their referrals from gluten-free diners to both gluten-free dieters and "traditional" diners alike.
    Gluten-free diners, just like all diners, place a great deal of faith and trust in people who prepare their meals at restaurants, diners, bakeries and cafes. With this great measure of trust being established at the first encounter with a restaurant guest, it pays to educate everyone from host/hostess to head chef on the proper way to handle gluten-free meals, and for that matter, all FAI's.
    That is why I recommend that until you are completely certain that your food is gluten-free, and that your staff is in complete compliance with your establishment's gluten-free policy, it is probably better that your establishment NOT offer gluten-free menu options. Those with gluten intolerance and celiac disease would appreciate your honesty and your integrity in doing so. The good news is that we'll be willing to become your dinner guests when you can honestly say that your kitchen staff, servers, management team, and even your host or hostess are educated, trained, and 100% on-board with providing a safe gluten-free experience for all of us.
    Trust and integrity go a long, long way for those of us with special dietary needs.


    Janice Schroeder
    Celiac.com 03/08/2019 - How many times have you gone out to dinner and tried to find a gluten-free meal that wouldn't make you sick? How many times have you eaten that gluten-free meal, only to think, "gee, I wouldn't feed this to my dog?"
    This leads to the question, do restaurants that serve gluten-free menu items taste test their offerings? If not, why not? Why do they think that people with gluten-intolerance or celiac disease want to eat cardboard? These and other questions continue to baffle me.
    There are a few things that restaurants could do better. The gluten-free wave is sweeping the nation. Restaurants need to learn how to swim, or be swept away with the tide. These are some of my pet peeves when it comes to dining out gluten-free.
    Running out of gluten free items, such as hamburger rolls or bread
    It is really easy to buy really good packaged gluten-free hamburger buns or bread. How many times have you been told that the only gluten-free offering is a lettuce wrap? Really? If I want to eat salad, I will order salad!
    Offering inedible gluten-free items
    Have you ever had a really awful gluten-free muffin in a restaurant, or for that matter, on a cruise ship? I am sure that if the kitchen staff tried these stale pieces of sawdust, they would not want to eat them. Why do they think someone with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance would?
    Trying and Failing to do it themselves (especially with dessert)
    Believe me, I really do appreciate the effort a chef makes to give me a gluten-free dessert other than sorbet or a fruit plate. I had a wonderful experience on a cruise a few years ago. The chef attempted to make me a gluten and dairy free cake (I am also dairy intolerant). It was really great. Unfortunately, they waited until the last night of the cruise, and I could only eat one piece of it. But I have to admit, by that time I was really tired of eating fruit plates. It's not that difficult to buy a ready made gluten-free cake, cookie or muffin mix and give us some options.
    Removing the "offending" gluten-free items until there's nothing left
    How many times have you ordered a wonderful sounding dish, only to receive a pale, gluten-free comparison? Believe me, before I go out to eat, I study the allergen menu really closely and try to find something that will not be entirely ruined if it is made gluten-free. I am not always successful.
    Sometimes the chef goes overboard in the interest of caution, and removes everything that could "possibly" contain anything remotely containing gluten. What I get is a tasteless shadow of the original dish, and resounding disappointment.
    I don't order certain items, like crab cakes, because even though gluten-free breadcrumbs actually exist, it wouldn't occur to the chef to try to use them.
    Improperly trained staff
    I am sure you have all seen the eye-roll and the deer in the headlights look of waitstaff who panic, or sneer at the mere mention that you are gluten-free. Nor do they have a clue about menu items that might contain gluten. It might be obvious to those of us who live this life everyday, but the waitstaff and kitchen staff don't seem to know.
    It is imperative that waitstaff and kitchen staff know what contains gluten, and what does not. I can't even count how many times I have gotten sick because I was told something was "fine".
    Cross-contamination with gluten-containing foods
    If you think your restaurant has a dedicated area to handle your gluten-free meal, you might be sadly mistaken. Using the same fryer, using the same pasta water, using the same utensils; these are just some of the things that are going on in the kitchen.
    It is far easier for a busy kitchen staff to take shortcuts than to properly prepare a gluten-free meal. I have also noticed that the attention to detail goes up with the price-tag of the meal in question. You are likely to get more attention in a fine-dining restaurant than in a small mom and pop owned one. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. You are also more likely to get "glutened" on a busy night, as opposed to a slow one.
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    I know in my heart that as the numbers of gluten-intolerant diners grows, so will the improvement of our collective dining experience. My love for dining out has waned since I became gluten-intolerant. I find I can make better food at home. I know this is not an option for everyone. But why should gluten-free be a tradeoff?


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 04/05/2019 - Avoiding gluten is literally the most important dietary practice for people with celiac disease. A gluten-free diet is the only way to avoid major health problems down the line.
    Until now, anyone on a gluten-free diet looking to eat food in restaurants had to rely on lots of detective work, gathering information from menus, word of mouth, intuition, and restaurant workers' advice, with little or no supporting data. 
    Portable Gluten Detection Data Drives Restaurant Study
    With the development of handheld gluten detection devices, like Nima, it’s now possible to take some of the guesswork out of equation by testing small bits of food on site in real time before it is consumed.
    A team of researchers recently analyzed data from Nima portable gluten detection devices, collected across the United States during an 18-month period by users who opted to share the results of their point-of-care tests.
    The research team included Lerner, Benjamin A., MD; Lynn T. Phan Vo, BA; Shireen Yates, MBA; Andrew G. Rundle, Dr PH; Peter H.R. Green, MD; and Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS.
    They are variously affiliated with the Department of Medicine, Celiac Disease Center, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA; the Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA; and with Nima Labs in San Francisco, California, USA.
    The study team used crowd-sourced data from users of a portable gluten detection device to estimate gluten contamination rates and identify risk factors in supposedly gluten-free restaurant foods
    Opt-In Study Shares Gluten Data with Researchers
    The team analyzed data voluntarily shared by users of Nima gluten detection devices to check restaurant meals across the United States during an 18-month period. The team sorted data by region, restaurant type, food items, time of day, and median household income near the restaurants tested. 
    The team used the χ2 test for bivariate analysis and multiple logistic regression for multivariate analysis to identify predictors of gluten detection in restaurant food.
    Gluten Found in One-Third of Gluten-Free Restaurant Foods
    In all, the data included 5,624 tests, conducted by 804 users over 18 months. Data showed gluten in just under one-third of foods advertised as Gluten-Free in restaurants. Gluten detection was highest with dinner foods, at 34.0%, compared with 27.2% for breakfast tests (P = 0.0008). 
    Pizza & Pasta Major Gluten Culprits
    Of all the foods tested, pizza and pasta labeled as gluten-free were most likely to test positive for gluten, with gluten detected in 53.2% of pizza and 50.8% of pasta samples. 
    On multivariate analysis, food sold as gluten-free was less likely to test positive for gluten in the West than in the Northeast United States, yielding an odds ratio of 0.80 and a 95% confidence interval 0.67–0.95). This analysis of crowd-sourced data suggests that a high percentage of restaurant foods labeled gluten-free contain detectable gluten, especially pizza and pasta, where it’s over 50%.
    The Nima device is highly accurate and very sensitive to gluten. In some cases, Nima may detect levels below 20ppm. So, in theory some of these readings might be for foods that are actually gluten-free. Still, these findings are alarming. 
    The team’s findings of high rates of gluten contamination in general, and in pizza and pasta, in particular, are a sobering reminder for people with celiac disease to choose carefully when dining out. Please be careful when eating out. Stay tuned for the latest news and information regarding gluten contamination in food labeled gluten-free.
    Read more at American Journal of Gastroenterology: March 26, 2019
    Discosure: Nima is a paid advertiser on Celiac.com, but publication of this summary is not influenced by their ad.


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