Members of Coeliac UK which gives advice and campaigns on behalf of those suffering from gluten intolerance have issued a very helpful card- the size of a credit card which gives excellent advice on how to avoid problems in restaurants from gluten poisoning.
The advice is on the back of the membership card which is very handy as it is likely to be in purse or wallet at the time you are out for a meal.
The advice is in four parts:
Call ahead to the Restaurant and talk to chef or waiter
This is a very sensible precaution when you know the place you are going to be eating in advance. Though the card does not say so specifically my advice is to talk to the chef if possible not the waiter. The waiter is unlikely to know in detail what goes into the dish and often is only hazily aware of dietary requirements.
Communicate with the Waiting staff when you arrive.
Again, this requires overcoming the great British reluctance to make a fuss. It is not making a fuss to feel confident that what you are eating is going to be safe and enjoyable!
Look Carefully at the Menu
This requires a bit of lateral thinking. Although some things like breadcrumbs and batter are clearly off limits it also takes a bit of imaginative thinking to envisage how things are being cooked and whether there is likely to be any danger of contamination.
Tell the Restaurant owner and Staff about Coeliac Society Accreditation Schemes
It is useful as a final thought to try and raise awareness of the coeliac condition where possible.
Although the card is a very good idea the ULTIMATE responsibility for ensuring that you receive a gluten free meal if requested is the restaurant owner. If they fail to ensure this and you suffer a reaction they are liable to pay compensation for damages.
You should always seek legal advice on this – it is only by holding restaurants properly to account that future mistakes will be minimised.
Further information can be found at Coeliac UK at https://www.coeliac.org.uk/home/