Don’t you wish that local restaurants understand the value of catering to gluten sensitive people? Dining out should be a fun and social experience, but for people living with celiac disease, eating away from home can be challenging. This requires research and planning, which does not necessarily mean that everything will go smoothly once you arrive at the restaurant. Individuals who are gluten-free have one simple goal and that is cross your fingers to find at least something that is gluten-free and try not to get sick. Being a person with celiac disease I must constantly compromise what I want to eat in order to manage my disease.
Unfortunately there are inconsistent standards from restaurant to restaurant and many times both the food handlers and restaurants do not have a clue as to what gluten-free actually means. Don’t you wish all restaurants would become a member of National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, (NFCA)?
The NFCA and the Philadelphia-based celiac support group has created a restaurant certification system, in an attempt to promote a greater level of food safety standards for those who are gluten-free. My biggest question is why is this a voluntary program for restaurants?
The following is the restaurant certification system that they created. Imagine what this two-tier would system could do for restaurant owners and their patrons, if they would only get with the program.
The Green seal which is intended as a “GO” or “SAFE” for those who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance and need the strictest gluten-free standards. The green light stamp ensures that restaurants have comprehensive staff training, verified gluten-free status of ingredients, and strict cross-contamination controls.
The Amber seal for restaurants have the basic staff training and whose kitchen practices may vary from restaurant to restaurant. This tier is intended as a cautionary level and diners should eat at these restaurants with caution. My question is why would any restaurant simply want an Amber seal? I find that the problem with the Amber seal allows for the current restaurant inconsistencies.
I never considered myself an activist, but this is truly a cause that needs people to fight for and make restaurants and food handlers aware of our needs.
QOTD: Are you frustrated when dining out? Any suggestions or tips? Could you suggest a Congressman or Senator to help the cause?