Coeliac disease is a condition that makes people react abnormally to the protein gluten. In Australia, it is estimated that around 335,000 people suffer from this disease (source: https://www.coeliac.org.au/s/coeliac-disease/coeliac-awareness-week). If you are a chef or own your own restaurant, it is hugely important that you understand how to cater for people who suffer from this disease.
In this article, we’ll discuss what coeliac disease is and how you can prepare and cook food for someone who suffers from it, so that they can enjoy their meal without worrying about getting ill.
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a painful condition that can affect many people when they eat gluten. When someone with this disease has gluten, it can cause their own immune system to start attacking their gut in response to the gluten in their system. This can seriously damage the small intestine and can result in the gut not being able to absorb necessary nutrients.
This condition can occur if any of these three grains or cereals are ingested: wheat, rye and barley. This, therefore, means that anything that contains gluten is off-limits for those with coeliac disease.
Which foods do coeliacs need to avoid?
There are a number of different foods that those with coeliac disease can’t eat, so if you’re planning your menu to include some gluten-free options, you need to think carefully about the pasta, cakes, cereal and bread you’re using and come up with suitable alternatives.
How to prepare food for a person with coeliac disease
As more and more people choose to opt to follow a gluten-free diet, many people have misunderstood the seriousness of coeliac disease. While someone who chooses not to eat gluten won’t be harmed if a little bit of gluten enters their system, this is not the case for those with coeliac disease. Therefore, whether you are preparing a meal for a friend or you are in a professional kitchen, it is important that you understand how to prepare food for a person with coeliac disease in as safe a manner as possible.
1. Be prepared
The first step is to ensure that your restaurant or the meal you are planning to make caters to those who suffer from this disease. If you don’t have any specialty gluten-free meals on your menu, those who suffer from the disease may be unlikely to dine at your restaurant, or you may have to create dishes on the spot for them. Always try to include at least one or two dishes on your menu that are gluten-free and make sure that you can change some of your other recipes so that they can be easily made gluten-free on request.
2. Think carefully about your working environment
The preparation of a gluten-free meal is the most important part. When cooking, you have to be very, very careful that the ingredients you are using and the surfaces you’re working on are not near any that have been in touch with gluten.
To start preparing a coeliac meal, first begin by wiping down all of the surfaces that you are using to cook with an antibacterial spray. Make sure that you wipe this with blue roll instead of a cloth that you have used to clean other areas of the kitchen. This helps to ensure that no small amounts of gluten are coming into contact with the food you are preparing. Next, choose utensils that are specifically designated for gluten-free cooking, or ensure that all of your cooking equipment has been washed thoroughly.
3. Keep ingredients and tools separate
Make sure that what you cook the food in has not been contaminated with gluten. Use clean frying oil or a clean oven shelf to cook and always ensure that frying pans and other cooking utensils are spotless.
It’s important that you have a separate store cupboard for all of your gluten-free ingredients too so that they don’t get contaminated, and finally, remember to wash your hands regularly!
Learn more about food safety today
If you’re looking for more information about preparing food safely in the kitchen or want more advice about how to cater for gluten-free people, at the Australian Institute of Accreditation, we offer online food safety training and food handling certification courses. Get in touch with us today to learn more about making your food preparation as safe as possible.