Coeliac UK is celebrating 10 years of its Gluten Free Accreditation Scheme, with the mission to guarantee that gluten free food being served in catering establishments in the UK is safe and abides by Regulation (EU) No 828/2014.
Prior to the launch no such scheme existed, but now there are around 3,000 accredited establishments in the UK, including restaurants, hospitals, schools and takeaways.
Coeliac disease is a serious autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system reacts to gluten found in food and attacks the gut. It affects one in 100 people and currently the only treatment is to follow a strict gluten free diet for life. Safe food preparation is vital for those with coeliac disease as even very small amounts of gluten can be damaging.
The Gluten Free Accreditation Scheme reassures safe delivery of gluten free food for the whole gluten free community, helping establishments to meet the increasing customer demand for medically required dietary needs. The Gluten Free Accreditation symbol automatically tells customers that an establishment is safe – building trust, loyalty and driving new visitors.
According to a recent Coeliac UK poll, 96% said their gluten free needs, or a member of their party’s, determines where they eat out to ensure the food establishment will meet their dietary requirements. In addition, 97% said that when they’ve found a gluten free venue they trust, it becomes a preferred place to visit.
“With some existing accredited venues reporting a 10-12% increase in business levels and a meal out costing on average of £10-£22per person, there is great potential for increased revenue for venues across the UK.”
Another benefit of the accreditation scheme is access to Coeliac UK’s online training courses for staff, which covers clarity on the law for allergens and gluten free food preparation, serving customers and menu labelling. This training equips food establishments to deliver a safe dining experience, while instilling confidence and trust in their customers.
Hilary Croft, CEO of Coeliac UK, said: “We are incredibly proud of the scheme and its growth over the last 10 years. By joining the Coeliac UK Gluten Free Accreditation Scheme, catering establishments are able to give customers certainty of the gluten status of a dish beyond the use of the wording ‘gluten free’ on menus. By law, food labelled as gluten free must contain no more than 20 parts per million of gluten – accredited partners commit to going over and above this and meet an exacting standard, and this assurance plays an important role in venue choice.”