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Frequently Asked Questions

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The product detail page lists Section – what does this mean?

There are two Sections in our printed Food and Drink Guide because of new legislation which came into effect in January 2012.

Section 1 lists foods that comply with this legislation and Section 2 lists foods that comply with allergen labelling legislation based on deliberate ingredients. We have more information on how the Sections work.

What are the benefits of being a Healthcare Professional member?

We really appreciate all the work you do to support people living with coeliac disease and want to make sure that you have the resources and tools you need to do so. As an HCP Member of Coeliac UK you will have access to the following:

  • Gluten Free Food Checker smartphone app (new)
  • Gluten free on the Move smartphone app
  • Food and Drink Guide
  • electronic newsletters
  • Helpline support
  • Food and Drink Information
  • Venue Guide on our website
  • Recipe Database on our website
  • online publications and leaflets
  • monthly Food and Drink Guide updates
  • food alerts
  • Crossed Grain magazine
  • HCP forum
  • personalised Scrapbook on our website.

In order to provide these benefits free of charge to healthcare professionals, we will be asking members to renew on a yearly basis.

Please ensure your details are up to date in your profile in your scrapbook.

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.’


Current official government US standards also state that products labelling themselves as ‘gluten free’ must meet the final rule of being within the 20ppm limit and this includes beers derived from barley. See below:

“3. Will fermented, hydrolyzed, or distilled foods labeled as “gluten free” still have to meet the requirements of the gluten free food labeling final rule?

Yes.  Hydrolyzed, fermented, or distilled foods voluntarily bearing the “gluten free” claim will also still have to meet the requirements of the gluten free food labeling final rule, including the definition of “gluten free,” which means that they are either inherently gluten free or they do not include any of the following:

  • ingredients that are gluten containing grains
  • ingredients derived from a gluten containing grain that have not been processed to remove gluten
  • ingredients derived from a gluten containing grain that have been processed to remove gluten if use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food, in either case, any unavoidable presence of gluten must be less than 20 ppm.”

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

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.

Can I test meals myself in restaurants (Nima)?

There are companies that produce testing kits to test the level of gluten in ready prepared foods. Nima is a recently marketed portable hand held device aimed at testing levels of gluten in meals served in restaurants.

Many people would like to be able to have the option of using such a test but it is important to consider what the test is looking for and how samples are tested.

Reliability of products like this should always be considered because the user may not maintain control of the conditions needed for accurate testing. Test results can be affected by a whole range of factors including the size and composition of the sample.

Testing a small sample of a certain meal will not necessarily represent the gluten content of the complete meal. It is also important to make sure that all gluten is extracted from a food before testing, using the chemicals provided. It is therefore very important to follow the manufacturers’ guidance on using the test kits.

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.

The Nima is designed to provide a signal of gluten found (wheat symbol) or no gluten found (smiley face). It may also report ‘ERROR’ if too large a sample is tested and it ‘clogs’ the test strip or specified sample conditions are not met. As it is not a laboratory test it cannot provide a quantitative value for gluten, it is designed so that any gluten above zero will be signalled as gluten found, including food with 20 ppm or less gluten, which is the current standard for labelling gluten free in the UK, Europe and the US.

Further publications are expected and we will see our first demonstration of the device later this year. We will be looking at the evidence carefully to assess whether the product will be a useful tool for people with coeliac disease.

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