What's New in Rice
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Since nearly 21 million Americans say they are trying to avoid gluten in their diet, USA Rice Federation is featuring ways you can learn how to safely accommodate gluten-free diners with recipes and resources. Also be sure to read Chef's Corner featuring gluten-free Chef Robert Landolphi to learn more about his gluten-free rice dishes.
Gluten-Free Menu Items Skyrocket
According to Mintel Menu Insights, gluten-free menu claims have increased 275% from 2009 to 2012, illustrating the growing momentum of the gluten-free lifestyle. Consumers are looking for more away-from-home meal options that fit their dietary needs. The least allergenic of all grains, U.S.-grown rice is naturally gluten-free and an essential ingredient in creating a variety of flavorful dishes. "As one of the major grains that people consume who suffer from gluten intolerance, rice is one ingredient that chefs and operators seek to offer safe meals that are on trend and appealing," said Lola O'Rourke, Gluten Intolerance Group's Director of Consumer Education.
Did you Know?
According to Technomic, gluten-free claims are the most prevalent at Top 500 and emerging full service restaurants. It's also the top health claim highlighted on newer, limited service restaurants’ menus.
Gluten Intolerance Group
Notable organizations like the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) have created a process to help chefs and restaurateurs implement best practices that instill a high level of consumer confidence. "The control measures for keeping a gluten-free kitchen are very similar to those you would implement when going nut-free or milk-free," said Channon Quinn, GIG's Director of Industry Programs. "When we are approached to help, the first outreach can be tense because it seems insurmountable, but once people find out how simple it can be they quickly jump onboard."
Restaurant and Awareness Programs
Foodservice operators can attract the rising gluten-free demographic through GIG's restaurant and awareness programs:
- Gluten-Free Food Service Management and Training Program (GFFS): Designed to provide independent verification of quality, integrity and safety of food preparation policies, procedures, education and standards. Audited yearly, restaurants that participate in the GFFS program are offered support for employee training, crisis management and more.
Quinn added, "The reason we created this program was to benefit consumers. We want them to know that if the restaurant showcases the GFFS logo they can dine safely, reassured that this restaurant has been thoroughly vetted and is taking every measure to keep them healthy."
- Chef to Plate Campaign: Held during National Celiac Awareness Month in May, this grassroots campaign is designed to help spread awareness of gluten sensitivities by partnering with restaurants that offer gluten-free menu options. At no cost, chefs and operators receive posters and table tents detailing facts and statistics about celiac disease to be featured in their restaurant during the month. They are also listed in GIG’s restaurant database as gluten-free options for people dining away from home.