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A Few Things Chefs Get Wrong About Gluten-free Food and Celiac Disease

Celiac.com 06/25/2014 - Chefs can be instrumental in guaranteeing a gluten-free dining experience for people with celiac disease. However, otherwise competent and well-meaning chefs can get some basic things wrong about gluten-free food for people with celiac disease, including:

Photo: CC--Quadell1) The Culprits are Wheat, Rye and Barley
Did you know that, in addition to avoiding anything made with wheat, or wheat flour, people with celiac disease can’t eat anything made with rye or barley?

In a 2012 quiz, fewer than half of the chefs at a major culinary event could name a grain, other than wheat, that was harmful to people with celiac disease. So, it’s rye and barley, in addition to wheat. Got it?

2) Cross-contamination is a Real Problem
The tiniest amounts of gluten, anything over 20 parts per million, can cause real and serious problems for people with celiac disease.

Eating gluten causes things like stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and vomiting, and other unpleasantness for people with celiac disease. No chef wants a patron to leave feeling like that. That’s why it’s so important for any chef or cook offering gluten-free food owes it to it’s patrons with celiac disease to get gluten-free right.

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3) Gluten-free Ingredients Don’t Guarantee Gluten-free Food
Once chefs master the basics about what is or is not gluten-free, the next step is to avoid cross-contamination when preparing, cooking and serving gluten-free food.

Do you cook gluten-free pasta in the same pot of water as regular pasta? Do you make gluten-free pizza in the same prep area or oven as regular pizza? Do you thicken soup, or sauce, or gravy with flour? Do you put croutons on salads? Do you cook regular and gluten-free foods in the same oven or grill? Do you use the same water to boil regular and gluten-free pasta?

If so, you are adding gluten to otherwise gluten-free food. That’s a big no-no!

4) Best Practices for Guaranteeing Gluten-free Food
Practices like those listed above are part of the cross-contamination problem faced by so many people with celiac disease. Remember, there’s no such thing as ‘a little gluten’ to people with celiac disease. To make sure you get it right, know the culprits wheat, barley and rye, be vigilant and watch for cross-contamination. Also, be sure to design and adopt a list of best practices for your particular kitchen that will guarantee a gluten-free dining experience for your patrons with celiac disease.

By all means, please feel free to share your ideas about what chefs get wrong, and/or can do to ensure a safe gluten-free dining experience for people with celiac disease.

Celiac.com welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).





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12 Responses:

 
MJH
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said this on
25 Jun 2014 6:50:36 AM PDT
Please don't forget that we often have other digestive problems as well so remember putting a lot of pepper, salt, or other extremely spicy flavorings increase the incidence of being sickened. In my case, bland is better, so you should ASK the patron how they need it prepared, and what NOT to put into it, like a lot of pepper, salt, chile pepper, etc. Basically I DON'T go to restaurants anymore because they just cant seem to get it right. I'm tired of getting sick from eating in restaurants or getting prepared food. I'm a career woman who doesn't have much time or temperament to cook, but an forced to out of safety. I would love to be able to patronize restaurants again, without it shortening my life each time! Thank you.

 
Carol
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said this on
28 Jun 2014 8:41:48 AM PDT
I have a gluten free cookie business . If you are baking at home you have to be so careful to not put a measuring cup or spoon that has been used in a glutinous flour and/or for that matter tree nut product (lots of issues there) in a container of your GF flour mix. When I bake I do not use any glutinous products in my commercial kitchen and also have a 24 hour air exchange in case someone cut bread, etc in the kitchen that I rent. Many bakeries are offering GF products and putting them in the same cases as glutinous products (illegal) and are not having a designated space or 24 hour air exchange for the GF products. Also, the law is that your products are supposed to be LAB Tested to show your product is under the legal limit of 20 ppm. Many people are not aware of this. Thanks for posting the article - good insight for many.

 
Fred

said this on
30 Jun 2014 6:08:02 AM PDT
Curious what laws are you referring to, can you tell me where I can see these for myself? Are they enforceable? I have never heard of any laws saying you can't put items in the same display case.

 
sc'Que?
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said this on
30 Jun 2014 2:06:07 AM PDT
And by the same token well-meaning writers can perpetuate the drama by not being specific enough.

The article doesn't really clarify the whole baking in a "dedicated" oven thing, which is not exactly a responsible move. You can bake GF items in an oven that previously baked something with mere breadcrumbs... provided the container containing GF items was not compromised. Baking directly on a contaminated surface, however, is another matter... as is baking in an oven where non-GF flour (which hangs in the air) is frequently involved in the final, baked product.

Failure to mention common oversights such as un-disclosed binders such as modified food starch can also be problematic. (Sure, in the U.S. we have certain standards, but what about when using ingredients from Asian countries, whose labeling and testing standards are not as rigorous as ours?)

Vagueness such as these are what cause business owners to either freak out about GF diners or to want to fib about their procedures. When writing about serious issues, please do not over-generalize for the sake of brevity.

 
Jefferson
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said this on
12 Aug 2014 10:50:06 AM PDT
Your concern is addressed numerous times. To wit: "...the next step is to avoid cross-contamination when preparing, cooking and serving gluten-free food."

"Do you cook gluten-free pasta in the same pot of water as regular pasta? Do you make gluten-free pizza in the same prep area or oven as regular pizza? Do you thicken soup, or sauce, or gravy with flour? Do you put croutons on salads? Do you cook regular and gluten-free foods in the same oven or grill? Do you use the same water to boil regular and gluten-free pasta?...If so, you are adding gluten to otherwise gluten-free food. That’s a big no-no!"

And again: "To make sure you get it right, know the culprits wheat, barley and rye, be vigilant and watch for cross-contamination. Also, be sure to design and adopt a list of best practices for your particular kitchen that will guarantee a gluten-free dining experience for your patrons with celiac disease."

I'm sorry if you fee that these points were not specific enough for you. Because every kitchen is different, I'm offering important points for consideration by chefs, not a step-by-step how-to guide.

 
Esther
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said this on
30 Jun 2014 4:26:14 PM PDT
The level of confusion amongst well-meaning professionals is amazing. School kitchens are some of the worst offenders with little understanding of cross-contamination issues. Also spelt (einkorn) and oats can be a problem for some coeliacs, as a rule I would avoid using any of these grains in GF diets. Thanks for an informative article.

 
Gillian
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said this on
01 Jul 2014 3:07:13 AM PDT
Apart from all this there are also problems with commercial sauces etc such as ketchup, balsamic vinegar, mustard and others which may contain gluten and the other additives such as MSG, aspartame and others which many celiacs (and gluten sensitive people) also react to.

 
Jane
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said this on
01 Jul 2014 4:14:05 AM PDT
Something I have seen a lot, especially in Italian restaurants, is they will advertise the dish as gluten free but only the base (the pasta, the bread, the pizza crust) will be gluten free. When you ask them to check to make sure the pasta sauce is gluten free or the pizza toppings are gluten free, they come back and find out that none of the toppings are gluten free or the pasta sauce has bread crumbs in it. I have been to so many restaurants like this where they advertize a gluten free menu because they went out and bought gluten free pasta or bread but nothing that goes with it is actually safe. I wind up talking to the chef and get this attitude of "well its a fake disease anyway". We always leave, but its never a good thing. Wish these places would close. Be careful out there.

 
Chris
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said this on
01 Jul 2014 11:40:10 AM PDT
After reading your article the first thing that came to my mind was what about Oats. So thank you Esther for adding spelt and oats to your response.

 
Jefferson
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said this on
12 Aug 2014 10:52:01 AM PDT
Spelt is a kind of wheat and contains gluten. Gluten-free oats are currently regarded as safe for most people with celiac disease.

 
john j acres

said this on
05 Jul 2014 3:43:16 PM PDT
Here is a couple more , flour from Afghanistan , spelt, kumnat, atta...

 
celiacsue
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said this on
11 Aug 2015 11:36:47 PM PDT
Many don't realize that malt is made from barley




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Ugg, tell me about I thought I had bad gut bacteria for years. Carbs would just make be bloat and distend, sugars, rice, any kind of grain. Figured out in Feb, it was UC and that the sugars in carbs caused flare ups....I realize I am blessed I can nuts, I eat nut based breads, muffins, cakes etc, using stevia, monk fruit, and xylitol for sweeteners since they do not trigger the flare ups. >.> I am also addicted eating sugar free jams made with extracts, and a universal pectin that reacts with calcium water instead of sugar so I can use monk fruit to sweeten. (Cheaper to make this for my fruit cravings to buying sugar free jams) I also found a noodle by miracle noodles that is carb free they also make a rice sub...I use them in recreating dishes I used to eat all the time. NOTE the fiber in them is not tolerable to some people. But might look into it as a alternative. I think I did a post not to long ago about different forms of noodles and how to make them or get them for those with similar issues one of hte more intiruging ones is using eggs or egg whites mixed up and cooked on low eat in a pan into a thin sheet then cutting into noodles or using nordic wear microwave plates to make them. .....I recently found you can mix konjac flour, eggwhites, and hemp protein, up pour into one of those plates and cook into a tortilla. check my profile for my food issues lol list is huge, at least you can eat meats?

Hi guys, I am newly diagnosed celiac. I found out about a week and a half ago, and have been gluten free for 5 weeks (I stopped after the biopsy was taken). I never really suspected celiac, so it was quite a surprise, but when I started reading about it it made a lot of sense in terms of symptoms etc. I am 34 yr old female, my main symptom was lack of energy for as long as I can remember, blood tests only ever showed low iron (not quite anaemic) but supplements never made a difference (now I know why!). For the last 5 years I have also had constipation, bloating and gas, but I put it down to stress or bad diet and if I am honest because it was a bit of an embarrassing issue to talk about I became complacent. As this is all very new to me, I feel like I have so many questions so thought I would put some here and if anyone has any input or advice from their experience that would be great! I will probably also post more in depth questions in the relevant sub-forums - For those in the UK, how long did it take you to speak with a dietician. The letter with my diagnosis was sent on 12 April and said I had been referred but I haven't heard anything - I am interested to know whether other celiacs/strict GFers ever eat foods which say "may contain traces of..." or "made in a factory which processes...." etc. So far I have avoided anything which says "may contain" or "not suitable for celiacs due to..." but I did eat something which said "made in a factory" (Walkers crisps) as they were the only option but then I felt guilty after! - What procedures do you take when eating out, i.e. do you only go to places which are certified by Coeliac UK (if you're in the UK), do you find speaking with the waiter etc actually helps? I have eaten out a few times since being gluten-free and feel like I am being a bit difficult when I bring it up and that they don't really understand. I am lucky to be in London so there are lots of certified restaurants, but even in Pizza Express I didn't think that the waiter really understood. - For those who had energy/tiredness problems before, how long did it take you to notice a difference? The only difference I have so far noticed is I am now more regular toilet wise and have had very little bloating/gas. - I have always had low iron which is most likely due to celiac but also as I don't eat meat (I do eat fish), I am hoping now that iron supplements will help now so have been taking the gluten-free Floradix for the last week. Anyone noticed a difference in this after stopping gluten? Thanks anyone for taking the time to read, and feel free to put any general advice you have Rachel

BOBS RED mill makes an all purpose flour with no rice try Quinoa flour buckwheat flour tapioca chic pea flour coconut flour almond meal ground into a flour flax meal all these things make great " toast" and healthy alternatives to too much rice flour yummy

Oh yeah. I'm 6 months in and still have bad days, even though I know I'm not eating gluten. It takes a long time to heal. I have been on here a lot in the past 6 months venting because I didn't feel good. I just posted today about how tired I still am. Everyone has basically said the same thing - give it time. Be patient. It can take a long time. Some people said it can take a year. Hang in there.

Ok, so I have another question for all of you professional Celiacs. I read an article recently that talked about a study that was done on people with Celiac's disease, which said that some of them (a small number) had high levels of arsenic in their systems because of all of the rice products that they eat. Now, I don't eat a ton of rice, but we do have gluten-free pasta a couple times a week, my son and I like rice Chex, and I know there's brown rice flour in the pizza crusts I use and in the gluten-free bread that I eat. How worried about arsenic poisoning do we need to be? I'm not downing rice at every meal but I do eat it daily, I'm sure. I rarely eat rice, rice. Usually it's the rice flour that's in things. Is this one more thing to keep me up at night? Because now I'm like, "Oh this is great. I'm trading gluten for arsenic." I need to eat carbs. If I just eat fruits and veggies and meat I'll lose weight which stresses me out. I want to be able to eat toast with peanut butter and eggs but I worry my toast is killing me. Am I being a little dramatic.