‘Gluten Free’ food preparation accreditation program proposed

It’s no secret that the demand for gluten-free menu items is larger today than it has ever been. Coeliac Australia estimates that one million Australians are currently following a gluten-free diet, and smart foodservice operators and restaurateurs have risen to the challenge by developing dishes that far exceed the stock standard steak and salad offering.

Despite the ever growing popularity of the segment, there is still quite a bit of confusion in the foodservice space surrounding the definition of the term ‘gluten-free’, what it encompasses, and how to best prepare and store gluten-free products.

Cathy Di Bella, project officer at Coeliac Australia says that it is this confusion that has resulted in the development of the Gluten Free Accreditation Program.

Under the current Australian standard, Di Bella says that only two claims can legally be made in terms of the presence of gluten in dishes: gluten-free (no detectable gluten) and low gluten (containing less than 200ppm).

“Gluten-free means coeliac friendly; 99 percent gluten-free and all of those other terms that you see quite regularly are not actually legal terms that can be used. The only terms that can legally be used are gluten-free or low gluten, and of course low gluten is no good for someone with coeliac disease – just like you can’t have a meal that’s almost vegetarian.”

Di Bella says the combination of visibility, traceability and education at all levels are key to catering to the gluten-free market.