A server comes back into your kitchen and informs that staff that a client cannot have gluten -- This situation is likely commonplace in all U.S. restaurants. While it may seem like a headache to put in the effort, preventing cross contamination is vital in these situations. Otherwise, your restaurant could face an unhappy customer or potentially a lawsuit. Fortunately, with the right knowledge, your staff can easily accommodate these dietary needs.
Who Cannot Have Gluten?
Before you actively take steps to accommodate clients who cannot eat gluten, it is important to know the conditions that cause intolerance. The most serious is celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body cannot process protein gluten. This protein is found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. According to Today's Dietitian about 3 million people in North America, or 1% of the population, have this disease. In addition, about 5-6% of the population, or 15 to 18 million people in North America have gluten sensitivity, which is a less serious form of intolerance.
How Can I Prevent Cross-Contamination In My Restaurant?
Now that you know what causes your customers to tell you that they cannot eat various wheat products, it is important that you take the following steps to prevent any level of contact when preparing gluten-free options. From your dough roller machine and dough sheeter to your general countertop surfaces, you will need to pay attention to points of contact.
- Wash Your Equipment: Sanitizing your equipment when you receive a gluten free order is a must. Thoroughly clean your commercial dough mixer, spatulas, and other tools that you use before you mix gluten free-dough.
- Have A Gluten-Free Area: Setting aside a special area to prepare these products minimizes small points of contact. This is likely the best way to process these special items.
- Have Gluten-Free Equipment: Taking this a step further, consider having two sets of equipment for common gluten-free dishes and breads. For example, you may want a separate dough roller machine and spiral dough mixer to use exclusively for clients with gluten intolerance.
- Avoid Wood: Your dough sheeter machine and other essential products are likely made out of metal anyway, but be sure to never use wooden cutting boards when making gluten-free meals. Gluten residue can hide in the crevices and breed bacteria as well.
For many chefs, it may be an adjustment to accommodate clients who cannot eat wheat products. Even though pizza was rated America's top comfort food by a Harris Poll, remember that it certainly causes discomfort for some. By simply selecting a special dough roller machine for gluten-free options, your attention will pay off with happy customers.