Rome! Paris! Morocco! Hong Kong! New York City! Hello bucket list! Or maybe you dream of experiences you can’t yet imagine like exploring Machu Picchu, swimming with whale sharks or flying over the Loire Valley in a hot air balloon. With careful budgeting and planning, many of these destinations are achievable for most. But for those with severe dietary restrictions, the idea of even eating outside of your own kitchen can be too daunting in itself.
The fact of the matter is, those who have coeliac disease or are severely intolerant to gluten have reason to be concerned. The phrase “gluten free” is not always as safe as it sounds in the food-service industry. According to a 2017 Research Study in Melbourne, of 127 randomly selected food business in the City of Melbourne, 9% of food labelled “gluten free” contained detectable gluten, making it not compliant with the Food Standards Australia New Zealand’sdefinition of gluten free. 6% of the samples even contained gluten at more than 20 parts per million, the upper threshold for safe gluten intake in Europe and the United States. At one particular business, a wheat dish was even presented thus demonstrating the lack of understanding in the food service industry. Would these figures have been different if the patron said were extremely sensitive to gluten cross contamination? It is important to note that, although these figures are certainly concerning, awareness and compliance in Melbourne have improved from 20% detectable gluten in “gluten free” items in 2014 to 15% in 2016 and now down to 9% in 2017.
A separate study carried out by Columbia University in the United States in October 2018 found that one-third of “gluten free” foods in restaurants carried trace levels of gluten. Whilst this may not affect those consuming a gluten free diet by choice, it certainly does for those who are severely intolerant or have coeliac disease. Common meals with trace gluten were in pasta and pizza, spotlighting that cross contamination was a regular occurrence in these foods. It is so important to let food service providers know your specific needs and how to keep you safe. Small adjustments in the kitchen make a world of difference to the consumer.
Planning on visiting Italy? Book your flights today and prepare that belly for all the gluten free pizza you can get your hands on. The awareness and caution taken in the food service industry for those with gluten sensitivities is remarkable. Their national association for coeliac consumer protection is active in their support, education and advocacy and assists cafes and restaurants in certifying gluten free products and processes. A study in October 2018 tested 28 cooked dough gluten free pizzas from certified venues during peak service hours. Only one tested positive for gluten but was still below 20ppm, the upper threshold for safe gluten intake.
Before you scratch off any epic adventures from your bucket list, know there are steps you can take to set yourself up for the best possible experience and least risk of becoming ill.
- RESEARCH. Search “city name gluten free” as your first point of call. This way you can look for online forums, informational articles or personal blogs from travellers that have had first-hand experience in the country or location.
- LOCAL CUISINE. Know what the locals are eating and what foods may possibly be putting you at risk. What does the region use for thickeners, sauces and condiments? Are products with gluten even a part of their traditional meals.
- TRANSLATE. Download translation cards online in the languages you will be travelling to. This way, no matter the circumstance, you can explain your needs without using hand signals or being afraid the information or severity will be lost in translation. It is also helpful to learn key phrases in the language so you feel confident you can communicate your needs.
- SIMPLE. If it’s all feeling too complicated, know that foil, baking paper and a clean frypan are all your friends. Fresh fish, meat and or vegetables in a parchment paper parcel with lemon in the oven is an easy way to know you will get a safe and tasty meal. The same applies to boiled eggs, baked potatoes and steamed vegetables. Also, pack as many snacks as you’re allowed so you know, no matter what, you will have something safe to eat.
- PREPARE. Mistakes can still occur when you’re relying on accurate translations and third-party information. The final step you can take to keep yourself safe when travelling gluten free is to bring GluteGuard. GluteGuard is a natural enzyme supplement that breaks down inadvertently ingested gluten before it interacts with your intestinal lining. This scientific evidence-based product is one additional step you can take to stay safe and avoid the effects of cross contamination when travelling and requiring a gluten free diet. Please know that GluteGuard is a tool to manage your gluten free diet but not to replace it. It is a safeguard in case something was to go awry in the steps above and can provide peace of mind when travelling.
Phew! Breathing a bit easier knowing the world is still your oyster? Remember the key steps for travelling the world when requiring a strict gluten free diet: research before you book, know the local cuisine, bring a translation card, keep your meals simple, prepare for all scenarios with GluteGuard, a digestive enzyme targeted at gluten. So where is your bucket list taking you?
In the past two years I have been to Japan twice. The first time I did not have GluteGuard with me. I was as careful as I could be. I carried an allergy card which explained in Japanese that I couldn’t eat gluten, including wheat. I didn’t use soy sauce or eat noodles. I had milk and gluten free bars for breakfast each day. By the end of my two weeks I still came home with rashes, headaches and an upset stomach. The second time I went I had GluteGuard with me and I took it whenever I was unsure- usually most days. I had no rashes, headaches or stomach ache that time. It was fantastic. Now I always carry GluteGuard in my purse in case I go out for a meal and get caught out and I always take it on holidays with me. It has taken all the anxiety out of eating out and traveling away from home. It is a fantastic product. Don’t leave home without it!
VIC Australia, July 2018.
- Halmos E. et al. –Gluten in “gluten-free” food from food outlets in Melbourne: a cross-sectional study. MJA 209 (1) 2 July 2018.
- Lebwohl B. –One-Third of “Gluten-Free” Restaurant Foods in U.S. Test Positive For Gluten– Columbia University news. October 2018.
- Bianchi D. et. al.- Analysis of Gluten Content in Gluten-Free Pizza from Certified Take-Away Pizza Restaurants. Foods 2018, 7, 180.