An education on celiac disease

An interview with an executive of the CDF opened my eyes to this auto-immune disorder.

Do you know how much gluten it takes to make someone suffering with celiac disease ill? I didn’t, but I do now—and it isn’t very much. It was just one of several facts I was made aware of this week when I interviewed Marilyn Geller, COO of the Celiac Disease Foundation.

I sought Ms. Geller’s insight as part of an analysis article I am working on regarding last December’s agreement between the Department of Justice and Lesley University that requires the Cambridge, Mass.-based school to provide gluten-free foodservice for necessary students under the Americans with Disabilities Act. She gave me more than insight. She made me aware of just how sensitive an issue this can be.

Ms. Geller’s main point was that gluten-free dining is not simply a matter of offering celiac disease sufferers or even people with gluten sensitivity appropriate foods. More important is the issue of cross-contamination.

“Awareness of celiac disease is important, but is it translating to a healthier environment?” she asked. “A salad bar can be gluten-free, until someone drops croutons into the lettuce bowl.”

That comment prompted me to ask the question, how little gluten is too much? The answer, according to the Food & Drug Administration, is a mere 20 parts per million.

“It only takes a microscopic amount to make someone with celiac disease ill," explained Geller, whose son has the disease. "it can be as simple as eating french fries that were cooked in the same oil used to fry chicken nuggets. The gluten molecule is very sticky; it can be left on colanders used to drain pasta that aren’t cleaned properly.”

A second point made by Geller was another perspective on celiac disease. While it is true that only about 1% of the population has been diagnosed with celiac disease, “that makes it the most prevalent auto-immune disease.” (Auto-immune disorders are those that cause the body’s immune system to create antibodies to attack a person’s own tissues. They include such diseases as multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.)

She added that her foundation appreciates the level of awareness that has been generated in the foodservice industry in recent years.

“Five years ago, most restaurant servers hadn’t even heard the word gluten,” Geller said. “Now they know what it is. Whether they truly understand about gluten is another matter.”

What is the level of understanding the CDF would like to see?

“You wouldn’t say to a diabetic, ‘eat just a little sugar,’” she noted. “That’s the kind of awareness we need about celiac disease.”

I’ll have more on the Lesley University ruling and its potential impact on the foodservice industry in the May issue of FoodService Director.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Labor secretary nominee Andy Puzder has officially bowed out of consideration for the cabinet position, according to the Associated Press .

Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants—the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.—was tired of being under fire for hiring an undocumented immigrant as a nanny and being accused 26 years ago of physically abusing his wife, an unnamed source told CBS News . The agency reported that Puzder was unlikely to show for the start of his confirmation hearings tomorrow.

Puzder has also been attacked by organized labor for comments suggesting that...

Industry News & Opinion

Risley Dining Room at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has just become 100 percent gluten-free, 14850.com reports.

For the past two years, the university has slowly phased out gluten in the dining hall’s menu by eliminating it in its stir fries, biscuits and brownies.

Instead of offering gluten-free versions of typical college fare, including pizza and pasta, the dining service team aimed for more sophisticated restaurant-style items.

Along with being gluten-free, Risley is also peanut free and tree-nut free.

The dining room is the second college eatery...

Industry News & Opinion

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., recently hosted a weeklong program called Weigh the Waste, which aimed to show students how much food gets wasted in dining halls, The Breeze reports.

Throughout the week, students placed food they were about to throw away on a scale located near the trash bins at one of their dining halls. At the end of the week, the school tallied the waste and saw that 817 pounds of food had been wasted.

School officials hope that the annual program, which it’s hosted since 2015, will remind dining hall patrons to only take as much food as...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

FSD Resources