Our September meeting was held at the BAWA Healthcare & Leisure Centre in Bristol. Prior to the main Branch meeting, those present were treated to a topical and informative presentation from Sarah Wingfield, Food Hygiene Training & Audit Manager, and Mike Newport, Hotel Services Manager, from the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, regarding the imminent changes to gluten free labelling of catering food and the implications for hospital patient and retail catering. There was a lively discussion with Members that explored the issues and solutions
As we all know, from 20 February 2018, changes to how gluten free food is labelled in catering will come into force. Caterers will no longer be allowed to label single items they have made with the phrase ‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients’. The phrase ‘Gluten Free’ is a legal term so unless food has been tested in a lab to ensure that it contains less than 20ppm of gluten, that phrase can’t be used either. If testing is done, three successful tests per item then a random test thereafter are sufficient to obtain gluten-free status. Testing costs approximately £75 to £90 per test.
One anomaly of the new law is that whilst you can’t label a single item on a menu with the phrase ‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients’ you can label multiple items with this phrase, so you can group together items in an area in a display cabinet, foods can be packed/labelled with a colour code – for example, you can have a sign saying ‘all sandwiches with a blue label have No Gluten Containing Ingredients’ – or items can be grouped together on a menu.
In some Trusts, separate menus are provided for different specialist dietary requirements, so they may have a menu specifically for food with ‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients’ (you can only call it a gluten-free menu if it’s food that you have bought in pre-packaged and supplier tested). For other Trusts, however – and depending on the type of meal service system – having a separate menu may cause issues, particularly for busy nurses who just want a ‘one menu fits all’ solution. Being able to choose several items listed on the main menu as suitable for gluten intolerance has worked well for patients and nurses and reduces requests to the diet kitchen. Providing a separate ‘no gluten containing ingredients’ section within the main menu is difficult because of space constraints; electronic meal ordering systems may be a good solution, of course.
We all concluded that it’s vitally important to ensure our patients, staff and visitors benefit from the new legislation, so let’s keep sharing our thoughts and ideas.
The opportunity was also taken to briefly discuss ISO17480, the Ease of Opening Standard that the HCA helped to design but which we, as individual Trusts, need to start requesting from our procurement/suppliers to make sure it is used.
Michelle Burrows from Wicked Cakes, who had kindly sponsored the day for the Branch, then spoke about the CQUIN-compliant products they have available, and which are suitable for patients and staff alike.
The final presentation was from Ellie Van Leeuwen, product designer for Spearmark (the organisation launching the Droplet Range of products, which includes the Droplet mug, tumbler, flow control lid and light and sound reminder base). This new innovative product is designed to assist with monitoring and helping to ensure correct levels of hydration and it is currently being trialled at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.