The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, has launched a gluten-free credentialing program that will enable restaurants to manage the growing interest around gluten-free menu items.

Having trained chefs and restaurants across the United States for five years with its Gluten-Free Resource Education and Awareness Training, GREAT Kitchens, NFCA's expansion of this program is geared specifically toward the restaurant sector. The updated and expanded online training program will go live on May 15, and will include five multimedia modules providing comprehensive education and tools that will enable restaurants to accommodate a diverse population of people who are eating gluten-free.

"NFCA is expanding its GREAT Kitchens program due to inconsistent standards, a lack of understanding of the medical elements of a gluten-free diet and too often, a lack of transparency about kitchen practices within the restaurant sector that has put the health of patients with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity at risk," said Alice Bast, president of the NFCA.

In conjunction with the new training program, NFCA has also created a consumer-based tiered credentialing system to guide those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity to fully understand a restaurant's gluten-free practices. Restaurants that complete the training will be credentialed with NFCA's Great Kitchens Amber or Green designations.

The credentialing system includes:

  • Green Designation – For restaurants with robust gluten-free protocols that meet the needs of diners with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. They have comprehensive training of wait staff, managers and kitchen staff, have verified the gluten-free status of incoming ingredients and have instituted strict cross-contamination controls.
  • Amber Designation – This level requires ingredient verification and basic training of wait staff and managers. Kitchen practices may vary with this designation, level one of the tier system, meaning those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should ask questions and exercise judgment when dining at an establishment with an Amber Designation. 

"Our program stresses the essentials of gluten-free safety from field to fork for restaurants nationwide," Bast said. "It's a complex issue that many with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity face ... Our hope is that this educational program will lead to safer foodservice practices in restaurants nationwide so that customers may have full confidence in their favorite establishments."

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