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2. Analyze gluten presence

Many foods are naturally gluten-free, such as fresh unprocessed meats, poultry and fish; fruits and vegetables; nuts, beans and some whole grains and starches, such as potatoes, corn, quinoa and rice. However, gluten can be hidden in seasonings, sauces, flavorings and other ingredients, so you will need a gluten-free expert to provide a thorough analysis of every ingredient and food label, including all sub-recipes and purchased and prepared items.

“We work with a lot of restaurants, helping them identify menu choices that do not contain gluten. They are sometimes surprised when we tell them that a spice blend contributes gluten to an otherwise gluten-free choice. However, they do appreciate the education, so they can find a gluten-free spice substitute,” says Nicole Ring, RD, Healthy Dining’s Director of Nutrition. “It seems like a chicken breast with fresh vegetables and quinoa should be a gluten-free choice, but you have to be very cautious with marinades, sauces, dressings and other ingredients that may contain gluten.”

Generally, organizations that certify gluten-free products require the products to contain 10 ppm or less. That means that food products labeled and certified as gluten-free are rigorously tested in batches to meet the 10 ppm and thus are certified as “gluten-free.” So restaurants that purchase the certified gluten-free products can feel confident about using these products.

3. Train restaurant staff

The NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program provides five multimedia interactive modules online to effectively train restaurant personnel to develop, prepare and serve gluten-free options with confidence.

The front-of-house module includes topics such as taking orders, answering questions, approaches to serving guests with gluten-free needs, communication with back-of-house staff and prevention of mistakes. The back-of-house module includes menu development, preparation, avoiding cross contact, storage, and communication with front-of-house staff. The implementation module for management includes a downloadable manual with posters, charts and other support materials. The modules also address the specific needs of a gluten-free diner and understanding whether ingredients contain gluten.   

4. Monitor adherence to protocol

Once the gluten-free items are identified and analyzed, the staff is trained and the protocols are in place, it is important to regularly monitor adherence and continue training for all new staff.

When asked whether this new FDA regulation will hinder food suppliers and restaurants when it comes to offering gluten-free products, Moreland states, “It is going to help bring more gluten-free specialty products to market. Many companies have been waiting for this ruling so that they can launch new gluten-free retail products. Soon to follow will be wholesale options, such as more variety in gluten-free breads, pastas, pizza crusts, sauces, dressings and other ingredients.”

HealthyDiningFinder.com will be launching a new gluten-free platform to help promote restaurants offering gluten-free choices. For more information, contact Anita Jones-Mueller at Anita@HealthyDiningFinder.com.