I recently read, in a not very friendly Daily Telegraph article – that the ‘free from’ food sales in the UK hit £0.5 billion last year and ‘gluten free’ alone is ‘worth’ £238 million a year. No wonder we are seeing more and more foods hitting the shelves. With a growth of more than 15% in just one year, you can see why the supermarkets have embraced this. Just this month Lidl launched their gluten free range and are no doubt currently analysing a positive impact on their overall sales figures.
It’s almost a month since the new allergen law came in. At the start there was a flurry of press coverage about what this would mean for allergy sufferers. Our very first experience was a very positive one – at Winter Wonderland – followed by a ‘medium to good’ one at Zizzi’s.
Since then I’ve been reading lots of posts in various Facebook groups and through other social media of some very unsatisfactory experiences. Many of the chains are being named and shamed. Some are being praised – but people usually talk more about their bad experiences, so the picture is somewhat skewed. The main problem seems to be staff training and attitude – and it varies wildly from location to location. Much effort seems to being put into compliance with the law with regard to menu and labelling but the staff are just not getting it right and reputations are being affected.
I hope 2015 has got off to a good start for you all. As I mentioned in my last blog post I believe 2015 will be a big year for ‘allergy cooking’. In the three short years since I launched Feeding My Intolerant Child, I have noticed a massive increase in the amount of ready made food available to us but now we have more resources than ever to help us make more of our own.
As I suspected and hoped, many top chefs and TV cooks have now embraced the ‘lifestyle’ aspect of dairy free and gluten free ‘eating’ and have started to ‘clean up’ their recipes and publish articles and whole books dedicated to gluten free and dairy free cooking. Many of the food magazines now label their recipes with a variety of icons, e.g. dairy free, gluten free, vegan, low fat, low sugar so that you can scan through and at a glance find the ones most suited to you.