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Frequently Asked Questions

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Will you stop producing a printed version altogether?

The increased size of the printed guide becomes more of a practical challenge for our Members to use. We have two fantastic alternatives to the printed version, the online Food and Drink Information and the mobile app. If you find these options easier to use than the printed version and would like to opt out of receiving the hard copy, please contact us on 0333 332 2033 or log in to your scrapbook to opt out. We will be asking Members throughout 2016 to help us work out the best format for future editions.

What are the benefits of switching to the online Food and Drink Information?

The online versions of our Food and Drink Infomation have many advantages over the printed version. Our arrangements with Brandbank mean we will get the latest product information added in real time, which makes all the difference when you’re out and about food shopping. Don’t worry if you don’t have a good Wi-Fi connection when you’re out as you can download the Food and Drink Information data onto your phone before you leave home. For more information about our phone App and how to download it please follow this link

Doubling the size and weight of the printed Guide considerably has increased the production and postal costs. Opting out of receiving the printed version and using the online one instead means we can use Membership funds more effectively to support our Membership scheme.

I've noticed that 'barley malt extract' is on the ingredients list of a breakfast cereal which is listed in the Food and Drink Information. Can I eat it?

There are a number of supermarket own brand breakfast cereals which contain a very small amount of barley malt extract. They are tested to make sure that they only contain a level of gluten which can be included in a gluten free diet (20 parts per million or less). Some retailers have their own Free From breakfast cereals too. These are listed on our online Food and Drink Information. 

Where are Coeliac UK’s offices based?

Coeliac UK main office:

3rd Floor Apollo Centre
Desborough Road
High Wycombe
HP11 2QW

Tel: 0333 332 2033

Scotland office:

83 Princes Street
EH2 2ER.

Tel: 0131 357 4614

Wales office:

Hastings House
Fitzalan Place
CF24 0BL

Tel: 02920 499732

How can beer be certified as gluten free?

There are currently two ways to manufacture gluten free beer. The first is to use a malt made from cereals or pseudocereals that are naturally gluten free, for example sorghum, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa or maize. The second method is to produce a beer using a gluten containing malt (wheat, barley or rye), and then introduce a process to reduce the gluten content. One way of doing this is to use an enzyme at the start of the fermentation process to break down the gluten protein. An example of this is the patented product Brewers Clarex® (also used to reduce the chill haze in beer). This protease enzyme degrades the gluten to levels below the 20 ppm threshold for labelling gluten free.

Manufacturers can only label their beer gluten free if it meets the necessary standard with a level of gluten that is less than 20 ppm. The current CODEX recommended laboratory test to assess the amount of gluten in a product or drink is the R5 ELISA  method (both Sandwich and Competitive methods are used depending on the product). The R5 ELISA Competitive method is a more effective method of gluten testing in hydrolysed or fermented products such as beer and this is the one our certification scheme insists upon.

Other analytical techniques, such as mass spectrometry are being explored but at the moment, we don’t have the full picture. The approved method for testing gluten in beers is currently the R5 ELISA Competitive method but the charity and producers are keeping an eye on new global research developments. In the meantime you can identify gluten free beers made with barley as by law the label must state ‘CONTAINS BARLEY.’

UK legislation fully complies with EU legislation but different countries have different labelling requirements set by their relevant authorities.

We will keep our members updated on our further investigations and provide further guidance as required.

Why isn’t Marmite listed in the Food & Drink Guide?

Although it was suitable in the past, since 2016 Marmite is no longer suitable for a gluten free diet as it contains more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

Yeast extract (which Marmite is made from) can be made as a by product of bread, wine and beer making. Although the ingredient and manufacturing processes have not changed, recent information received from the makers of Marmite indicates that despite thorough washing, it contains slightly more than the 20 ppm gluten standard, now defined by law.

If in the past you have included Marmite in your gluten free diet, it is highly unlikely that it will have been harmful as it is usually only consumed in small amounts.

You can contact the Unilever Careline on 0800 010 109 directly if you would like to speak to someone about the suitability of Marmite.

Please see our Food and Drink Information or our app for alternative yeast extract products which are suitable for a gluten free diet.

Can I test meals myself in restaurants (Nima)?

Nowadays you can buy kits to test for gluten in food at home or when out and about. One such test kit is called Nima which is a handheld device to test for the presence of gluten.

We know that many people would like to be able to have the option of using such a test but it is important to look at how they work and what they are really telling you before buying.

Firstly in all tests the results can be affected by a whole range of factors including the size and what the sample is made up of.

Most meals will be made up of many different parts – different vegetables, fish or meat. Testing a small sample of a certain meal will not necessarily represent the gluten content of the complete meal. 

For the kits to work it is also important to make sure that all gluten is taken out of the food for testing using the chemicals provided. It is therefore very important to follow the manufacturers’ guidance on using the test kits.

The Nima kit is designed to tell you if gluten is found (if yes a wheat symbol is displayed) or no gluten found (when a smiley face is shown). The kit is not designed to tell you the level of gluten found and whether it meets the labelling law on gluten free – in other words it cannot say it is less than 20 ppm of gluten. This means it may tell you that a food has gluten in but is actually legally gluten free. The kit may not work when the sample is too large. It also cannot be used on foods that contain fermented food such as beer, hydrolysed foods such as soy sauce and foods containing alcohol. In these cases the message ‘test result not available’ should appear. It will be important, as evidence is published to keep up to date with what foods the test can be used on accurately.

Nima was launched in January 2017 in the US. We have been monitoring its progress and on 1 September 2018, the first publication of data on the development of Nima featured in the Journal of Food Chemistry and there’s since been a further publication in the Journal of Food Protection on the use of NIMA with thirteen different foods, including its limitations.

We have recently seen a demonstration of the device and we will be looking at the evidence carefully to assess whether the product will be a useful tool for people with coeliac disease.

Can the Community pharmacy supply of gluten-free foods toolkit be used for individual GP dispensing practices?

It would be difficult to set up a pharmacy led supply scheme as an independent. If you are interested in setting up a pharmacy led supply scheme we would recommend speaking with your local Clinical Commissioning Group and other GP surgeries in your area to consider the potential for collaboration.

Items supplied on prescription are reimbursed through the national Prescription Pricing Department (PPD). The PPD receives all prescriptions dispensed and reimburses individual pharmacies and GP dispensaries accordingly.The cost of each prescription is taken from the appropriate GP surgery prescribing budget. In Northamptonshire, when the pharmacy led supply scheme was introduced in 2006, the funds came from the existing Primary Care Trust (PCT) prescribing budget.

Can you provide information on the administration costs of setting up a pharmacy supply scheme?

The administration cost of setting up a pharmacy led supply scheme for gluten-free food on prescription should be minimal.

A PCT in Cumbria piloted the pharmacy-led supply scheme in 2009. Existing members of their staff took on the administration tasks required to implement the initiative. This took a part time employee approximately three months – but it should be noted that this was to organise the scheme from scratch. Once the programme was in place, administration requirements comprised of data collection for finance and required approximately one working day per month.

We have designed a toolkit so that there is a template approach which can be simply rolled out in any new area and Coeliac UK is happy to help with communication to promote a smooth implementation.

In Northamptonshire, administration related mainly to devising contracts and paper claims. Initially this took a 0.4FTE around two weeks each month to process the claims. Since 2009 Northamptonshire has processed claims using an online claim service. This has proved very efficient and reliable, heavily reducing workload. The cost of this service would depend on the number of pharmacies and number of services commissioned. Northamptonshire use the online service for six enhanced services.

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