As part of this years’ Coeliac Awareness Week, New Zealand’s leading dietician in allergies and immunology, Anna Richards, highlighted the risk of gluten cross-contamination in food preparation as a safety hazard for people diagnosed with coeliac disease.

Richards has become the driving force behind a new Dining Out Programme being developed by Coeliac New Zealand.

“For those who choose to eat gluten-free for lifestyle reasons, the fact that a restaurant or café promotes a gluten free menu is enough,” said Richards.

“Providing safe food for those with coeliac disease is another level again. Coeliac disease is life-long auto-immune disorder that requires a completely gluten free diet, no crumbs in the butter or on the boards, tongs or toasters. Coeliacs need to trust not only that the food itself is gluten free but that it has been sourced, prepared and served without any gluten contamination.

The new programme will give coeliacs assurance and confidence as it signals the café or restaurant has been independently accredited and that all appropriate onsite staff are knowledgeable about coeliac disease and have been trained in producing safe gluten free food.

The restaurants involved in spearheading the Dining Out Programme are Charley Noble Eatery and Bar in Wellington, Hip Group café’s St Heliers Bay Café & Bistro and Takapuna Beach Café and Ballantynes in Christchurch.

In a first for the fast food sector, Hell Pizza has also signed up to the programme.

“We are incredibly grateful for the commitment demonstrated by these companies and their management teams. Without their support we would not be able to overcome the challenge of eating out which, for many individuals or families with a coeliac in their midst becomes a major hurdle,” said Richards.

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