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Collaborating with our European counterparts

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Coeliac UK is the largest and oldest coeliac society in the world but we are also members of the Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS), the umbrella organisation of national coeliac societies in Europe.

Coeliac UK is the largest and oldest coeliac society in the world but we are also members of the Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS), the umbrella organisation of national coeliac societies in Europe. This is an important umbrella, as it means that we can share information with our European colleagues across 35 countries.

As we’re old and grey in comparison to many of the other societies, we have a mentoring role, especially where healthcare and food industries are not as well developed as here. We know people in the UK are so often frustrated with how hard it can be to get diagnosed, living with coeliac disease and finding food to support your diet, but it can be really sobering to hear how it is in some other countries.

So we work together, especially on cross border and common issues that we all struggle with - things like airline food, eating out and improving diagnosis rates. And, as many of our laws originate in Europe, such as those around labelling and food, working at European level means we can lobby the European Parliament and work together on legislation that affects us all.

Each year the AOECS General Assembly takes place which includes a scientific conference, this year in Warsaw, Poland. It is, amongst other things, an opportunity to knowledge share, especially around research. This year, we talked about topics ranging from intestinal permeability to the nutritional qualities of the pseudocereals amaranth and quinoa. There is also a day of discussion and sharing information around the latest in technical developments and strategic planning for the year ahead.

Sarah Sleet, our Chief Executive, sits on the AOECS Board of Directors, leading many negotiations at European level to make sure that the UK’s interests are met. Kathryn Miller, our Head of Food Policy is a member of the AOECS Technical Committee, which focuses on the development of standards relating to legislation and requirements for the licensing of the Crossed Grain symbol. Making sure the UK is represented on any issues being made at European level that might affect our Members is really important and means that we can shape the agenda which benefits all.

Visit the AOECS website for more information www.aoecs.org.

20 September 2016

In: Community

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