RESTAURANT EXPERIENCES

WHAT FOLLOWS IS THE GENERAL WORDING OF A LETTER I RECENTLY SENT TO A LOCAL CAFE/RESTAURANT…..

You are receiving this because I recently dined at your establishment and chose a gluten-free option from your menu. I would like to say it was a pleasant and more than satisfactory experience, but sadly I cannot.

I have Coeliac Disease – an auto-immune disorder triggered by a serious intolerance to gluten. Coeliac Disease is a condition one has for life, it cannot be controlled with medication but can be kept in check with a STRICT gluten-free diet.

To begin with, my meal was served with a sauce that was not gluten-free. I asked the waitress about this when I received it and was told after she queried the chef, that the sauce was NOT gluten-free. I chose not to eat it, thankfully it was on a separate dish.

The salad served with the meal appeared to be ‘dry’ so I used some of my own dressing on it, knowing that what I had brought with me was indeed gluten-free.

My point is, the meal I ordered from your menu was labeled on the menu as gluten-free. Anyone who did not know that some sauces/dressings contain gluten would have happily eaten that whole meal, believing that what was written was accurate.

However, despite this caution on my part, within 2 hours of eating this meal I developed symptoms of illness, that I conclude could only have arisen from something I consumed in that meal in your restaurant.

I am actually now wondering if your staff are aware of what can happen to someone with Coeliac Disease, who unwittingly ingests gluten. It can be as serious in its consequences as for someone with a nut allergy who unwittingly ingests maybe only ‘traces’ of nuts.

The issue I wish to raise, is whether there was another ingredient in the meal that was not gluten-free – OR if there could possibly have been an incidence of cross contamination. Gluten-free food should not be handled with tools that have touched other food that may contain gluten (unless thoroughly washed prior), nor should it be cooked in the same pan/dish. Meticulous attention to food handling is paramount.

I would like to suggest that perhaps you look into the issues I have raised here and ensure that ALL staff are aware of what happened to me.

If you are unsure of anything I have documented, then maybe consultation with registered & knowledgeable dieticians or with Coeliac NZ would be most helpful to your establishment.

There is also a Manufactured Foods Database list online which is regularly updated. http://mfd.co.nz/

As product ingredients can also be altered from time to time this is something that needs to be regularly monitored and maintained.

With more and more people being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease now and also the number of people who are being diagnosed gluten intolerant/lactose intolerant, it is important that all eating establishments serious about a good reputation appropriately cater for special dietary requirements.

I have recently started my own blog and my intention is to critique all places I visit/have visited, with gluten-free options on their menu. I will be detailing my experiences and naming restaurants who live up to the required standard, as well as those who do not. My website is: coeliackiwi.wordpress.com.

Ultimately is my intention to build a list of reputable eating establishments – places where all who have Coeliac Disease or a serious intolerance to gluten, feel safe to visit. I would like to think yours would be up there as one worthy of a visit. At the moment. I am sorry to say I would have to rate it as  “At Your Own Risk.”

 

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