Your Guide to Achieving an FDA-Approved Gluten-Free Menu

Monday, October 28th, 2013

A short couple of months ago on August 5th and after quite a few years of consideration, the FDA released new regulations and a uniform standard for the term “gluten-free”. The truth is that even the best commercial restaurant equipment may not ensure that your food remains gluten-free. These regulations couldn’t have come at a better time, as restaurants offering gluten-free menus are popular and on the rise. So if you’re ready to stock up on restaurant equipment great for going gluten-free, it’s probably time to get familiar with the new rules.

In summary, the FDA defines anything termed as “gluten-free” must be “inherently gluten-free and does not contain 1) a gluten-containing grain, 2) a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten [ex. Wheat flour], or 3) a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten [ex. Wheat starch], if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food. Also, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.)

The last bit there about not containing more than 20 ppm gluten is the key here – being the globally agreed amount of gluten among researchers that should not cause adverse effects in people affected by celiac disease. It sounds slightly daunting, and you may find yourself questioning which piece of restaurant equipment even measures in “ppm”, but by following some simple steps you’ll be able to find yourself easily adhering to the FDA’s new guidelines by August 5, 2014.

1. Avoid cross contamination! This may seem obvious, but many don’t realize the ease with which gluten-free items may come into contact with items with gluten in them. Research evidence suggests that the tiniest speck of gluten can be transferred through contaminated utensils, restaurant equipment, deep fryers, etc. Just be mindful and thorough when handling your restaurant equipment if you plan to offer a truly “gluten-free” menu.

2. Thoroughly analyze all menu items to meet the gluten-free criteria. Even if you keep your restaurant equipment as clean and gluten-free as can be, it won’t amount to much if you haven’t made sure that your ingredients are positively “gluten-free” by FDA standards. There are many resources such as registered dieticians that will not only help you analyze your current menu, but also help you to build a tasty gluten-free menu.

3. Get commitment from and train management and all staff. A vital aspect of offering a gluten-free menu to your guests is ensuring that the entire restaurant staff is on the same page as far as handling restaurant equipment and storing, preparing, or serving gluten-free items. It is recommended that restaurants achieve this by having management and both front and back of house staff attend training programs such as the GREAT Kitchens Course (Gluten-free Resource Education Awareness Training). A committed and well-educated staff on the proper handling of food and restaurant equipment will make certain that guests can maintain trust and loyalty in your establishment.

4. Implement specific protocols and monitor adherence to procedure. You’ve gone through the trouble of analyzing your menu and training your entire staff to the intricacies of serving gluten-free items – it is now time to put that top-quality commercial restaurant equipment to good use by implementing very specific rules, so that everyone knows what the correct protocol is every step of the way. In addition to this, keep a keen eye and monitor the way the new rules are being executed, as your staff makes the proper adjustments and puts their training to use.

Is your restaurant thinking of offering a gluten-free menu or looking for commercial restaurant equipment great for cooking gluten-free? Let ShortOrder know via Twitter or Facebook!

 

Going Gluten-Free – Restaurant Equipment for a Menu of Favorites

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Have you ever been faced with a need to fill gluten-free requirements, but don’t know how to meet those needs with your restaurant equipment?  This week we offer some valuable tips about what gluten-free really means and how to incorporate it into your menus.

About Gluten-Sensitivity
Gluten is a protein composite (made up of two other proteins) found in foods processed from wheat and other grain-related species like barley and rye.  There are different levels of gluten sensitivity.  Those with only mild gluten sensitivities might be able to eat some things those with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that causes, among other things, a complete intolerance to gluten) can not.  For example, be extremely careful about cross-contamination!  If foods are cooked in the same restaurant equipment that was used to bake, cook, stir-fry, or dice a food with gluten in it, those with high gluten-sensitivity will be affected.  Likewise, a food that is technically gluten-free may sport a label that says “Processed in a facility that also handles wheat.”   You can’t tout your menu as truly “gluten-free” if you aren’t careful about exactly what goes into your dish.

Cooking with Restaurant Equipment Sans-Gluten
Before you plan a gluten-free menu, look up as complete a list as you can find of foods with gluten in them.  You might be surprised what makes the cut!  Favorite, seemingly harmless foods like soy sauce, certain lunchmeats, bouillon cubes, and salad dressings can all contain gluten or be contaminated by gluten.

Then, rather than focusing on the things that are not available to your restaurant equipment for a gluten-free menu, think about the things that are.  All kinds of meats, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and a myriad of spices can be incorporated into a gluten-free menu.  There are also, of course, many replacements for gluten-laden ingredients; corn, flax, buckwheat, soy, rice, and almond flour can all serve as suitable substitutes in plenty of recipes.

Gluten-Free Recipes for Restaurant Equipment
Searching for some ideas to add to a gluten-free menu in your restaurant?  Try these recipes out on your restaurant equipment.

Gluten-Free Brownies

These brownies from Jesika Rose of jesicakes.blogspot.com are moist and chewy, and are made incredibly decadent by the inclusion of dark chocolate and almond flour.  Add some mix-ins to make this brownie recipe your own.  Chocolate chips, peanut butter, and pecans can all add a twist to these brownies.

Broccoli Divan

Faith of anediblemosaic.com created a broccoli divan recipe that is vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free.  It relies on no meat substitutes and relies instead on seasonings, almond meal, and vegetables.  This dish, which is normally made with chicken, becomes a flavorful alternative.

Pistachio-Encrusted Salmon with Edamame Mash

Shauna James Ahern of glutenfreegirl.com has created a pistachio-encrusted salmon with edamame mash that is surprisingly sparse in its ingredients and takes very little time to make.  Shauna says you can replace the pistachios with another nut, or the fish with a different firm fish depending on your preference.  Give it a try and see what new creations you can come up with!

Restaurant Equipment for a Gluten-Free Menu

Monday, June 29th, 2009

There’s a great recent article in QSR Magazine about how with more Americans being diagnosed with celiac disease, customer demand for a gluten-free menu at restaurants is rising.

If you’re a restaurant owner or chef who is considering offering a gluten-free menu, the article stresses taking care to make sure cross-contamination does not happen. You can do this by having a clean prep area for the gluten-free products. Also, flours should be pre-mixed and labeled, and the restaurant staff should be educated about how to handle the gluten-free items. A staff meeting might be a great way to get everyone together to explain just how important it is to keep gluten and gluten-free items separated so as not to cross-contaminate. Another important point QSR mentions is that gluten-free baked items typically have a short shelf life, so they should be prepared in small quantities.

Some restaurants that offer a gluten-free menu may want to ensure that gluten-free items are not contaminated by restaurant equipment used for gluten items. Having restaurant equipment that is dedicated to the production of your gluten-free items is a good way to ensure that there is no contamination.

Mentioned in the article is Chicago’s Swirlz Cupcakes, a store that bakes gluten-free items first and even tests the air for wheat flour and other ambient allergens so that they can work to keep that percentage low. There’s no doubt that customers sincerely appreciate this kind of dedication.

Another example in the article is Nana’s Cookie Co., a company that uses all stainless steel restaurant equipment, separate equipment for the gluten-free items, and they bake them only at certain times and on certain days.

Buy Restaurant Equipment to Make Gluten-Free Items

If you need dedicated restaurant equipment to produce your gluten-free menu items, ShortOrder.com has an impressive selection — and we have the lowest prices out there. From small appliances to Vulcan ranges, we’ve got all you need for your restaurant.

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