Manufacturers and retailers
Over the past five years, the retail market for gluten-free foods has grown dramatically. Today, a wide range of Free From foods are available in supermarkets and other retail outlets around the country. Whether frozen, chilled or ambient – ranging from Yorkshire puddings to pitta and naan breads – the choice available is constantly growing.
We are always keen to talk to companies who are interested in producing and selling gluten-free food, so that the choice for people with the condition continues to expand. We can help by providing you with up to date information on the gluten-free market, and referring you to appropriate agencies for advice on legislation and labelling, quality control and gluten testing.
People with coeliac disease are the core gluten-free consumers, as the gluten-free diet is the only treatment for people with coeliac disease.
About coeliac disease and the gluten-free diet
Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac) is an autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten. When someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, the body attacks its own tissues, causing damage to the lining of the gut. Symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and mouth ulcers, and can lead to more serious complications such as osteoporosis and cancer of the small bowel.
Availability of gluten-free foods
People with coeliac disease source their gluten-free products from the Free From aisles in the major supermarkets, as well as other independent outlets, health food stores and online shops. They also look to mainstream foods, using allergen labelling and the ingredients list to help them make choices on products to buy.
Free From alternatives have undoubtedly contributed to a greater variety in the gluten-free diet. However, such products are often more expensive than the standard variety. Other everyday foods that are naturally gluten-free are also vital ingredients for people with coeliac disease.
We know that the following components are important to those following a gluten-free diet:
- availability of gluten-free foods when out and about
- being able to choose safely from a wide range of products
- clear labelling
- value for money
- nutritionally balanced products.
People with coeliac disease are also able to access some gluten-free staple foods on prescription.
The Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances (ACBS) is a non departmental public body which was set up to give advice to GPs on which products to prescribe that are not medicines or medical devices. Gluten-free foods are an example of the products this body approves to be available on prescription.
To get a food product on the list of prescription products, you need to apply to the ACBS for approval. More information can be found on Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances here.