I enjoy working with many Martin Bros. customers on menus and recipes. Over the years, I’ve been getting more and more questions about how to handle a gluten-free diet. “Gluten-free” is still one of the top food trends identified by the National Restaurant Association. Consumers in healthcare facilities, restaurants, schools and other foodservice venues as well as in retail have been demanding more gluten-free options over the last decade, and the demand continues to rise. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about supporting a gluten-free diet.
Who needs to avoid gluten and why?
People who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid consuming gluten. Ingestion of gluten by individuals who have celiac disease can cause damage and inflammation in the small intestines, resulting in stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, decreased absorption of nutrients and other symptoms.
How can I identify gluten on food labels?
Read ingredient statements on food packaging. Avoid foods that contain wheat, rye, barley, oats and derivatives of those four ingredients. Ingredients that may indicate gluten include malt, triticale, spelt, dextrin, maltodextrin, modified food starch, natural flavor and artificial flavor. This list is not all inclusive.
In August of 2013, the FDA finalized labeling regulations that define the term “gluten-free,” which manufacturers can voluntarily put on food packaging.
Are there many gluten-free options, and how do I find them in foodservice?
There are many gluten-free options available, and the availability continues to increase. Martin Bros. has an online search option that can help you find items that meet specific dietary restrictions – including gluten-free. In the item search on MartinsMart.com, select “Switch to Advanced” and then select “Gluten-free” from the Specific Requirements (Food) dropdown to find gluten-free items. In addition, always read ingredient statements on food packaging before serving.
How can I avoid cross contamination when preparing gluten-free food?
It is important to thoroughly train staff to deal with a gluten-free diet or any allergen you are avoiding. Gluten-free ingredients need to be handled with: