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Find Restaurants Catering to Gluten Free & Food Allergies

The numgluten free mealsber of eating establishments around the world that cater to people managing diets free from gluten, dairy, peanuts and other allergens is continuing to expand. However, remember that even if the restaurant chain or hotel offers a gluten free menu or a food allergy chart, you still need to ask the right questions and review your meal to ensure safe eating experiences.

 The more you know, the easier it is to dine out safely and put the control back in your hands as a customer.

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Steps to Avoid Cross Contact of Foods for Guests and Restaurants

Cross contact occurs in two primary instances and should be considered each and every time that you are ordering foods and/or serving individuals with gluten, wheat and allergen-free requirements.

  1. gluten free foodsWhen the food item is prepared in the same frying oil or boiling water as other foods containing gluten or other common allergens.
  2. When microbes or food particles are transferred from one food to another by using the same knife, cutting board, pots, pans or other utensils without washing the surfaces or tools in between uses.

In the case of open flamed grills, extreme temperatures turn most food particles into carbon. Use of a clean wire brush designed for grill racks typically removes residual contaminants.

To avoid cross contact, you should use always make sure a dedicated fryer for gluten and wheat free foods is used, identify oils used for frying and monitor allergen foods prepared in a shared fryer.

Also, make sure all materials are washed that may come in contact with other foods in hot, soapy water prior to preparing items for those following gluten, wheat and allergen-free diets. Following these procedures will help to ensure safe dining experiences for everyone concerned.

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Learning Curve Associated with Special Diets

There is a learning curve for individuals who are guests in eating establishments managing gluten and allergen free diets as well as for the restaurants who cater to them. The process of gaining the necessary knowledge to successfully handle special dietary requirements is similar for both parties.

The learning curve associated with special diets includes the following four key steps, for individuals and restaurant professionals alike:

1. Awareness:

To gain awareness, you, as an individual, need to first educate yourself to understand exactly what you are allergic to or what special diet you are required to follow. You may be asking, “What have I been diagnosed with? Where do I begin my research? What resources are available to me and what do I do next?” These are all common questions associated with learning about your new way of life.

On the other side of the table, restaurant professionals go through a similar experience. “What type of special diets may be required by our guests? What do we need to learn to better understand their needs? What resources are available to help us?”

2. Information:

gluten free meal preparation

The next step in the learning curve is information. As an individual, you must learn what you can and cannot eat on a fundamental level. Once this is understood, it is important to investigate where problematic allergens can be hidden in foods and what you need to do to adjust for this unexpected variable.

Likewise, restaurant professionals follow a similar thought process. “What can this guest eat and what is not allowable? What ingredients and food preparation techniques can be an issue and how can we adjust to suit their requirements?” The parallel is undeniable.

3. Knowledge:

Once this understanding is accomplished, the third step is knowledge. Individuals need to apply what has been learned to safely eat in restaurants, as well as at home. Furthermore, you must learn to communicate your special requirements and determine an effective strategy for ordering safe meals in order to develop a comfort level with various cuisines and dishes.

As a restaurant, you have a different set of concerns to address, such as how to train both front and back of the house staff. You also need to determine how to accurately convey this information between all employees involved in the process and identify what protocols need to be in operation. Through effective training efforts, an establishment can teach their staff how to assist special diet guests by guiding them through the menu, taking into consideration ingredients, preparation techniques and hidden allergen concerns.

4. Empowerment:

gluten free dining

The final step of the learning curve is empowerment. As the guest, you need to know where and what you can eat, as well as what modifications can be made to easily accommodate your dietary requirements. Once this is achieved, you can focus on enjoying your eating experiences while remaining diligent about the foods you eat.

For the restaurant, the focus becomes how to simplify menu options to adjust for special dietary needs. This allows the restaurant to concentrate on providing safe and delicious meals for their guests, while ensuring a high standard of service, ultimately resulting in repeat and loyal business.

Excerpted from the Award-Winning Book Series—Let’s Eat Out!

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