small brown pancakes with fruit compote

How to make sure your kitchen is gluten-free & coeliac safe

New startup restaurants and pop-up kitchens are hugely popular in London, and around the world. Coupled with the increase in intolerance and health awareness when it comes to food, many business are starting to offer gluten-free menus or options.

The trend towards gluten free food has taken the world by storm in the last couple of years. In 2014, the U.K. spent a whopping £184 million on gluten-free products, and market research firms have predicted that “the healthy-ingredient snack segment will continue to see steady growth in sales” until 2020. But what many may not realise is the difference between gluten free and being a coeliac, which is key if you want to serve those people.

When setting up your own kitchen, whether it’s a Dephna rental kitchen or your own bought space, you’ll need to take precautions to ensure your workspace, and therefore, culinary treats, are what they say they are.

small brown pancakes with fruit compote

What’s the difference between gluten-free and coeliac disease?

This increase in demand for gluten free foods is not reflected in an increase in persons with coeliac disease. Some people are simply preferring gluten-free diets, others have intolerances/sensitivities that mean they prefer to avoid certain types of gluten, and now there are options available to cater to them.

Having Coeliac Disease is not the same as having a wheat allergy or a sensitivity to gluten. While a food allergy is caused when a person’s immune system incorrectly identifying the proteins in certain foods as a threat, a sensitivity is not caused by the immune system.

Coeliac Disease is an autoimmune disease whereby the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue disrupting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food. It’s believed to affect 1 in every 100 people in the UK however some experts say this may be an underestimation due to mild cases being undiagnosed.

Food preparation is key to creating safe foods

pasta being cut through a pasta maker

Those with Coeliac Disease can suffer long term internal damage ranging from osteoporosis to anemia and even cancer if they continue to digest gluten. While extreme food allergies can result in anaphylactic shock and death. Therefore being aware and respectful in the kitchen is essential – especially in a professional environment.

Typical ingredients from the kitchen you’ll find gluten in are: wheat, barley and rye. Many kinds of flour from grains have gluten, but they are also different varieties. I.e. wheat has wheat gluten and corn (or maize) has corn gluten.

While some sufferers will continue to eat certain types in some foods, coeliacs will never want to ingest any gluten at all.

All food preparation in a professional kitchen that is serving or selling gluten-free foods much adhere to the following regulations:

  1. Using separate chopping boards, pots, pans and containers when preparing gluten free foods. Never swap them over.
  2. Allocating a separate work space to avoid any contamination.
  3. As in any kitchen, you must regularly and thoroughly clean surfaces. Remember to use different cleaning cloths for each area.
  4. If you are cooking foods in an oven, gluten free products must go above gluten based products in the oven, or better yet, in separate ovens.
  5. Deep frying – separate oil for gluten free products and a gluten free batter should always be used.

Always use packaging to mark products accurately

When producing anything with gluten-free ingredients, always mark your packaging or use large displays to denote details of preparation. Marking if your foods are prepared in a kitchen that also uses gluten ingredients is a small distinction; compared to a kitchen that only uses gluten free ingredients, but it is very important to coeliac sufferers in particular.