Preparing gluten-free food safely
Gluten-free food is not only a dietary preference but a necessary health precaution for the 1 in 100 people living with celiac disease. Found in wheat, barley, and rye, and gluten consumption for those who are celiac can cause damage to the small intestine, resulting in short- and long-term health complications that can, in many cases, result in fatality.
Kitchens that offer gluten-free food must adhere to strict preparation guidelines to protect patrons from harm. As Australia’s leading supplier of high-quality food safety products, resources, and commercial kitchen supplies, Fildes Food Safety has collated some of the safest processes for handling gluten-free food.
1. Avoid cross-contamination
Avoid cross-contamination between gluten-inclusive and gluten-free foods throughout the preparation and cooking process. Start by cleaning all utensils, such as knives and tongs, and prepare surfaces such as cutting boards and benches regularly, including preparing meals. Better still, try to designate certain utensils for handling gluten-free food only. Fildes Food Safety offers colour-coded items, including cutting boards, tongs and knives, making distinguishing easy. Similarly, make sure kitchen staff clean and sanitise hands when handling different ingredients.
2. Store gluten-free food separately
Gluten-free ingredients and cooked meals should be labelled clearly. Fildes Food Safety offers clear and colour-coded labels explicitly designed to assist the kitchen in identifying gluten-free items. Moreover, these items should be stored separately from gluten-inclusive meals in a designated fridge and shelve space within airtight containers or with food-safe coverings to avoid accidental contamination.
3. Decrease the risk of contamination
Contamination of gluten-free foods can occur even during the cooking phase. Cooking oil for fried foods and boiling water for pasta portions should be changed between each meal. Similarly, it is best to utilise different appliances and utensils for high-risk items such as bread and baked goods, including toasters, sifters, and colanders.
4. Offer gluten-free specific compendiums
As little as 50mg of gluten can damage a person's small intestine with coeliac disease. It is important to consider areas outside of the control of the kitchen where cross-contamination can occur, such as within spreads such as butter at serve-yourself restaurant bars or buffets. These spreads should be effectively labelled and regularly replaced.
5. Develop a clearly labelled menu
Besides preparing and cooking gluten-free food, restaurant and kitchen managers should aim to develop clearly labelled menus that take the dangerous guesswork out of identifying gluten-free meals for both patrons and waitstaff. The consensus in Australia is to use a 'GF' marker next to items that the chef can guarantee will not be contaminated by gluten at any time.
Learn more about the full range of commercial kitchen supplies available from Fildes Food Safety, designed to ease the process of managing the many food-safety requirements within the kitchen.