Gluten-Free ‘Lifestyles’ Make Dining Out Difficult for Celiacs
Jade Mayhew is a smart and fit young mother who works in Melbourne’s food industry. She has celiac disease. It’s a disease that causes gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye, to remove the tiny finger-shaped villi in his gut. Villi allows us to absorb nutrients. If Mayhew eats even the smallest amount of gluten, she suffers from severe abdominal pain. “Smallest amount” means 50 milligrams, to be precise; less than a hundredth of a slice of bread.
Mayhew is a friend of mine. I myself have seen the debilitating effects of the disease. One evening we had dinner on sushi together. She advised the kitchen on her illness well in advance. She informed the staff of her illness and rechecked the food for gluten. Before the end of the meal, his cheerful demeanor had changed. His arm went around her stomach. By the time she was in the car, she was slumped in pain. The soy sauce had been fermented with wheat. Less than half a teaspoon had turned her into a soft doll.
For people with celiac disease, it’s not just the acute symptoms that are of concern. Continued exposure to gluten will destroy the villi in their intestines, dramatically increasing the risk of developing bowel cancer and liver disease. For them, the term “gluten-free” is not a lifestyle choice. It is literally a matter of life and death.
The problem is that non-celiacs who follow the “gluten-free” fashion, who are neither allergic nor intolerant, are weakening the restaurant and cafe industry’s support for true “gluten-free” labeling. . Good Food has received numerous complaints from restaurateurs about diners who insist on a gluten-free meal and then order foods made with wheat. “I know gluten-free foods are essential for celiacs,” says Rosa Mitchell of the city restaurant Rosa’s Kitchen. “We have people who insist on a ‘gluten-free’ meal when they book. The kitchen goes to great lengths to take care of them. We use separate utensils, separate pans to cook our meals. We wash our hands before touching food. . Then they order a pastry for dessert. I don’t think people know how hard we are trying. It’s quite frustrating when people who don’t have a true gluten allergy eat bread or order a pastry. It’s like the boy who cried Wolf. “
Jane Davies of Celiac Victoria and Tasmania says “gluten-free lifestyles” have undermined efforts by restaurants and cafes to provide completely gluten-free food. “For us that’s a real problem,” says Davies, for whom a breadcrumb trail will cause nausea and vomiting. “Even for celiacs who don’t show symptoms after eating gluten, it will still affect their long-term health.”
She says it’s harder to get real gluten-free food now than it was 10 years ago.
Mayhew is painfully aware of the problem. “I now get dirty looks from waiters when I ask about ‘gluten free’. Yes, I am openly concerned about poor gluten intolerant people, but I can’t tell you how much that makes me. piss off when someone walks into a restaurant saying they’re gluten free because they think it’ll help them lose weight. It’s not fair. “
In recent years, there has been a change in attitude among chefs, cooks and reception staff, leading to a loss of vigilance in completely eliminating gluten from foods labeled “gluten-free”. An ongoing testing program by the City of Melbourne has food samples from cafes and restaurants labeled “gluten-free” sent to a lab for testing. Alarmingly, some foods contain gluten. The City of Melbourne then briefed and educated businesses on how to make sure the dishes are truly gluten-free. A recent survey of celiacs shows that while 90 percent of them rely on “gluten-free” labels on menus, more than 40 percent believe they’ve been exposed to gluten in a cafe or restaurant in the past. three previous months.
Celiac Australia calls on restaurants, cafes and other food companies to take “gluten-free” seriously again and has developed a standard that can be followed to create dishes that are safe for celiacs.
This involves “sourcing, separating and serving” guidelines covering things like using different toasters and grills to avoid contaminating gluten-free dishes. Even the crumbs in frying oil can make people with celiac disease sick.
“There is no medicine for celiac disease,” Davies says. “Avoiding gluten is the only medical treatment we have. A true “gluten-free” status is essential for our health. ”
The standard can be downloaded here.
the Gluten Free Expo is at the Melbourne Exhibition Center over the weekend of October 10-11. It is a showcase of gluten-free products, where visitors can taste and buy pasta, cakes, cookies, desserts, mueslis and other food products. The competitors of Chef will appear on stage to present gluten-free recipes, and speakers from the medical profession will share their thoughts on living gluten-free. The event is hosted by Celiac Victoria and Tasmania to educate the public on what “gluten free” really means. See gfexpo.com.au