Cooking up a storm

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An increasing number of people are being diagnosed with an allergy or food intolerance. Stonehaven-based food ingredients manufacturer, Macphie of Glenbervie supported a new industry initiative - Coeliac Awareness Week (16-22 May), which is spearheaded by the Coeliac Society, the national charity for people with coeliac disease, aiming to raise awareness across the UK.

Coeliac disease means that you cannot eat gluten, a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley, which is found in a range of everyday foods such as bread, pasta, sauces and cakes. Besides the ingredients in the food they eat, coeliacs are also concerned about how their dishes are prepared. If a gluten-free meal is prepared on the same equipment used for other dishes, cross-contamination is possible. Even a speck of gluten on an otherwise gluten-free dish can make a coeliac feel unwell.

Macphie has a bright and spacious on-site restaurant facility, which caters for its 200-strong workforce. Chief Executive, Alastair Macphie, set his chefs, bakers and restaurant staff a gluten-free challenge to prepare a special gluten-free menu, showing that a you don’t have to compromise on taste, quality or enjoyment.

When food shopping, you need to read the label to make sure it doesn’t contain gluten. Many gluten-free equivalents are available, for example Macphie recently launched a gluten-free cake mix in response to the growing demand for gluten-free products in retailers and bakeries.

Derek Baird, development chef at Macphie, hopes that more hotel and restaurant chefs will become educated on coeliac disease and the need for gluten-free meals. He said: “I understand the challenges faced by people with coeliac disease and the chefs who cook for them. With some simples changes to your recipes and good practises in the kitchen you can make sure food is suitable for people with coeliac disease. Going to restaurants while on a gluten-free diet can seem a daunting task, however, you should call ahead to check if they cater for a gluten-free diet.

“Today, such a wide range of gluten-free foods are available, we wanted to show our staff that you can still enjoy a gluten-free diet without any fuss.”

The Coeliac Society have been encouraging businesses and individuals to get involved to help raise awareness of coeliac disease and those with an intolerance to gluten.