This month Ruth discusses free from options.
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Free from – readily available options on any menu
With the recent rise to prominence of ‘free from’ food, it might be reasonable to think that it is a recent phenomenon but in fact it isn’t. Public awareness may be at its highest point ever along with an increased consumer demand, but within the NHS and care homes we have been providing dishes suitable for people with food allergies, intolerances and personal dietary preferences for quite some time.
At Anglia Crown, we have not used nuts, sesame or lupins at our manufacturing site, and therefore in any of the dishes we manufacture, for over five years since 2011. In addition to this we offer several dishes which do not contain a range of well-known allergens such as gluten and milk and just last year launched a brand new range of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Menu diversity and access to suitable, affordable and nutritious dishes, whether for health needs or for personal choice, is something that we champion at Anglia Crown. It is estimated that coeliac disease affects approximately 1% of the population with many more believed to be undiagnosed. For those affected, meals are required that do not contain gluten (No gluten containing ingredients NGCI), and in the past there have not always been suitable alternatives or necessarily appetising choices. Gluten free diets tend to require nutrient dense meals which traditionally have been more expensive to purchase. In fact this is often still the case, but at Anglia Crown we have made sure that our free from dishes are not any more expensive than others to safeguard the NHS against a financial penalty for delivering dishes that cater to all dietary needs and preferences.
People with speciality diets are certainly benefiting from the amount of exposure free from dining has recently secured, reflected in the amount of free from products now on the market for the general consumer. Readily available free from food ensures that patients can meet their dietary needs in a holistic approach both in and out of hospital. Long may it continue.
Posted in: Dietitian - Ruth Smith