Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

 


1. What does gluten-free food mean?
In most of the world, the phrase gluten-free means food containing gluten is not deliberately included in food labelled gluten-free. It also means an amount gluten may be present in the food if it’s only there by accident. The most common specified amount is up to 20 parts of gluten per million (PPM) parts of food. That amount can also be expressed as 0.002% of gluten in food or 20 milligrams of gluten per 1 kilogram of food

Different arrangements apply in New Zealand and Australia. According to Food Safety Australia New Zealand regulations standard code 1.2.7., gluten-free food means “The food must not contain (a) detectable gluten; or (b) oats or their products; or (c) cereals containing gluten that have been malted, or their products”. No detectable gluten means the level of gluten allowed in food in Australia and New Zealand is a lot lower than permitted in other parts of the world.
The difference between Australasian regulations and ones that dominate the rest of the world is a contentious issue. The issue can be seen as a divide between those who accept the scientific view that 20 ppm is a scientifically acceptable level of gluten in food suitable for people with a gluten related disorder including Coeliac/celiac disease, contrasted with people on the other side of the divide who believe that no change to Australian and New Zealand regulations is necessary. Some people think that the optimum level of gluten in food may lie somewhere between the two views. Click here to share your thoughts on the controversy.


2. I have a gluten related disorder and so I must not include gluten in my diet. Does this mean I must only consume food if it’s labelled gluten-free?
This is probably true if you buy food in most parts of the world where regulations permit a level of 20 PPM of gluten accidently included in food. It is not necessarily true in Australia and New Zealand because of the high cost involved in ensuring no gluten is present in food. It also includes the exclusion of oats, which is considered by many as a staple food. The process of making sure food contains no gluten is expensive and is probably the main reason why food labelled gluten free is relatively expensive in these countries. Oats do not naturally contain gluten, but they can be contaminated. Uncontaminated oats are available but regulations do not allow them to be labelled gluten-free in New Zealand and Australia.
Because of the way gluten-free food you buy in New Zealand and Australia is regulated to the standard it is, you may be wise to adopt a gluten free diet which conforms to the standards used in other countries in the world including Europe, America and Canada. However you would be disrespecting food regulations if you sold such food labelled gluten-free (or similar) in New Zealand and Australia.

3. I run a chain of cafés and shops in Australia which sell gluten-free food. How can I adopt the more universally acceptable standard for gluten-free food and provide my customers with a better experience?
One way is to wait until regulations in Australia and New Zealand change and embrace world class best practice. The other is to consider another way of presenting food suitable for people with gluten related disorders. Consult our sponsor www.glutenmanagement.com for advice

4. Where do I get personal support as a person suffering from a gluten related disorder?
Here is a pathway you might find useful:
A. See your General Medical Practitioner, tell them about you symptoms, and ask them to diagnose what your ailment is. Some ailments such as coeliac (or celiac) disease can be readily diagnosed, other ailments that require a gluten free diet may take a while to check out. It may be that your symptoms will not be relieved by maintaining a strict gluten-free diet. Whatever the diagnosis it’s best to take advice from your GP in the first instance.

B. Diets are often best tailored to your own particular circumstances. In which case, visiting a dietitian or nutritionist is a good idea if you have been advised to follow a particular diet.

C. Join a support group, meet with people with the same problem as yours and find out more about what to do. A selection of support groups can be found through a simple search on the internet.

D. Choosing what or where to eat gluten-free is as simple as clicking on www.glutenmanagement.com


5. How can I prevent gluten-free food in my restaurant from becoming contaminated with gluten?
You must have a systematic way of managing gluten-free foods, as contamination can occur anywhere along the food chain from the farm to your supplier, your storage area, through to your kitchen and on to the customer’s plate. It can be introduced by your staff or even by customers. Being the final link between the food and the consumer, your restaurant is responsible for ensuring gluten is not served to people who say they do not want to eat it. People with gluten related disorders can get very sick if they eat gluten. Check out www.gluten.management to find out how to implement a system to manage gluten on your premises effectively and efficiently including how to train your staff in gluten-free food handling techniques.

6. I operate grocery shops with an expanding gluten-free section of food in my free-from aisle. How do I best serve customers in this highly competitive area?
Customers are becoming more and more discerning regarding the quality of their gluten-free food. Given this, the answer to your question is 2-fold and focussed on customer convenience:

A. Save the customer the bother of reading food labels through insisting your suppliers decipher their label information and expose hidden gluten. If the supplier refuses to comply with your wishes and the brand is strong, why not add a label to the product yourself to clarify ingredients. Customers will appreciate your consideration.

B. Put as much gluten free food in the same area as possible to save customers the bother of searching your store for what they want. The old technique of forcing customers to search stores by hiding milk and other staples to entice them to buy more is well past its use-by date. Reducing contamination is another reason not to intermingle gluten-free food with other food. Items such as packaged pasta, flour and cereal can easily leak and spoil gluten free-food in the shop, then customer transports the contaminated food home and into their pantry. It only takes a small amount of gluten containing food to contaminate gluten-free food.


7. What is gluten management?
A gluten management system is a systematic framework designed to achieve a consistent standard of performance through the management of an organisation’s policies, procedures and processes and promote continual improvement within. The system is used to manage improvements in operations, reduce risks and increase the confidence of customers and other stakeholders.

Performance is improved through a process of continuous improvement. It includes accountability through assignment of personal responsibility and a schedule for activities to be completed, as well as an assessment tool to implement corrective actions in addition to scheduled activities, creating an upward spiral of continuous improvement. The standard can be applied to any organisation, large, small, or type of food service.

Benefits of an effective and efficient management system include:
• More efficient use of resources
• Improved risk management, and
• Increased customer satisfaction as services and products consistently deliver what they promise.

Gluten management systems are generally founded on an appropriate technology platform. These can range from a narrow scope paper based platform up to one that is multi-functional and automated. Scope can include information on topics such as the organisation, standard operating procedures, setting and implementing corporate policies, monitoring progress, quality assurance, staff training, choosing suppliers and getting best value from them, marketing, distribution and more. Good systems also provide flexibility to adjust to changing circumstances through an ability to reshape the system whenever required.