Today the offer of gluten free foods or a menu suitable for celiac customers is becoming important, given the growing demand of this market segment . In fact, there are around 150,000 celiacs in Italy and every year there are over 10,000 new diagnoses, thanks to the greater knowledge that we have today of this pathology.
The only currently known solution for celiac disease is the gluten-free diet; for this reason a person with celiac disease must be able to eat in safety and feel reassured by the fact that the restaurateur knows its characteristics and knows how to treat the foods he will present to them. It is not only the presence or absence of gluten in food but also the risk of contamination of the same which can be serious for a celiac.

Fortunately, in recent years there has been an increase in restaurants dedicated to celiacs , but the offer of places for quick meals, business lunches or aperitifs with a dedicated menu is still lacking.

Some time ago, we asked a couple of questions about AIC, the Italian Celiac Association

What are the essential precautions for an establishment that wants to offer a menu for celiacs in safety?

It really depends on whether it's a place set up only for celiacs or with a mixed menu. In the second case there are important precautions to be respected because the risks of contamination may be greater. When a place is also equipped for celiacs, but not only, it must prepare a space dedicated to gluten-free products also for storage, both in the cupboard and in the refrigerator. The main objective is to avoid food contamination , it is also necessary to train the staff in the appropriate way as well as organize the spaces. moreover it is necessary that the equipment is dedicated. Special pots , equipment, crockery and food machines will therefore be reserved for celiac customers .

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As far as the products are concerned, how can the most suitable ones be identified?

There is a symbol that allows you to recognize the products suitable for this diet: the Spiga Barrata brand. This is the symbol on the label that guides people with celiac disease in choosing packaged, safe and suitable food products for the specific needs of a gluten-free diet. In fact, it allows for immediate recognition of gluten-free products within the market offer and above all communicates the safety guarantees ensured by the AIC checks.

In practice, therefore, how can we organize our kitchen?

To open a gluten-free restaurant, no special authorizations are required, but those envisaged for any food administration activity such as HACCP are sufficient to ensure that any type of contamination is avoided. In fact, when gluten-free dishes, desserts and pizzas are prepared, this risk is very high: it takes very little to cause even serious reactions in celiac customers.
For this reason, the ideal is to set up two separate stations in the kitchen: one for the preparation of traditional dishes and the other for the creation of the gluten free offer. In this way you will be sure not to contaminate the preparations and to offer customers absolutely gluten-free dishes.
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In addition to this, it is not possible to use the same condiments that are used for gluten-free baked goods as they may have come into contact with floured hands and spoons. The advice in this case is to store the condiments in dedicated containers , easily identifiable and resealable, and to use special utensils.

The food storage and conservation phase must also be distinct: all gluten-free ingredients must be cataloged and suitably arranged, while the cold rooms must be divided and contain only permitted foods. Again, the goal is to avoid food contamination , as a person who is intolerant to gluten can feel bad even ingesting a small amount.

Obviously, the risk of contamination also and above all applies to the oven, since contact with non-gluten-free ingredients can easily occur during cooking.

So where to cook gluten-free products?
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Having an oven dedicated to gluten-free cooking, which does not take up too much space and is highly performing, is certainly the best solution.
Equipping your kitchen with a separate oven allows you not to interrupt the production of pizzas, baked goods and pasta with gluten while avoiding the risk of contamination.
Combi Wave , for example, guarantees minimum bulk and offers a practical solution to the problem of having a second oven in the kitchen, even for those without a flue. We had talked about it here ; with single-portion and sealed cooking, in fact, Combi Wave can also be used as the only oven inside the room, allowing you to prepare traditional and gluten-free dishes at the same time.
Finally, we advise all those who want to enrich their offer with gluten-free menus to also pay attention to the welcome of celiac customers. It is important that the manager prepares an equal menu for everyone with an indication of gluten free dishes , so that even the celiac customer can order in the same way reserved for others and does not have to wait for the intervention of the dining room staff to list suitable foods for him.

Furthermore, when serving in the dining room, he must be careful not to position the bread or other foods containing gluten near the dishes of the celiac customer and other small attentions that for many do not go unnoticed.

Let us know what your experiences have been in this regard and your advice for adapting your offer to celiac customers.