Posts Tagged ‘restaurateurs’

New Gluten-Free Standards set to Change Restaurant Offerings

August 14, 2013

It is estimated that roughly 18 million Americans have a non-celiac, gluten sensitivity while another 2 million have a diagnosis of celiac disease. Add on the growing number of people who are avoiding gluten for various other health-related reasons and it’s no wonder that so many restaurants are making the move to offering gluten-free items on the menu.

‘Gluten-Free’ has Varied Widely from Restaurant to Restaurant

That said, what the term ‘gluten-free’ actually reflects can vary greatly from one restaurant to another, with as much as 90% of restaurant items currently labeled as gluten-free actually containing quite a bit of gluten. Part of the problem is inadvertent cross-contamination. The other part of the problem is that gluten is found in a number of items a person wouldn’t necessarily suspect. As a result, those whose health can be seriously affected by gluten currently can’t trust gluten-free labels or menus.

This safety risk has led the FDA to put out a new rule which requires items voluntarily labeled as gluten-free (or with similar terms such as “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” or “without gluten”) to contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten.

The rule was added to the Federal Register on August 5th, and gives packaged food companies one year to comply with the new standard. Once in effect, restaurateurs will be able to purchase anything with a gluten-free label without having to examine the ingredient list for hidden sources of gluten.

Next Step: Preventing Cross Contamination

Cross contaminating an otherwise gluten-free food in the restaurant is very easy to do and is another area of real concern for those with health issues related to gluten. For example, a gluten-free food cannot be fried in the same oil as foods with gluten; nor can knives, cutting boards, or other food preparation tools be shared. Airborne flour can even be a gluten culprit, meaning that gluten-free foods must be prepped in a sealed area.

Many restaurants are developing company-wide training programs to teach staffers proper food handling and preparation for their gluten-free customers. Some restaurants have even gone so far as to develop a “GF” prefix code for their point-of-sale systems so that employees can follow specific plating instructions and recipes when a gluten-free item rings up.

Education and Alternatives for Restaurants to Meet the Gluten-Free Demand

In some cases, it is simply not feasible for a restaurant to be able to prepare gluten-free foods in the establishment itself. For example, many restaurants don’t have a dedicated fryer for gluten-free items nor the capability to prep gluten-free foods in an area sealed from airborne flour. Some restaurants are working around such problems by simply not offering any gluten-free items that are fried or by purchasing pre-made pizzas, for example, which have been packaged and sealed in a certified gluten-free facility, cooked in the bag, and are opened only by the gluten-free customer.

A number of restaurants have been utilizing the training provided by nutrition consulting groups and advocacy organizations such as the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to train staff, implement procedures, and find new methods of meeting the gluten-free demand in their establishments. The prevalence of gluten sensitivity is a real issue that has a significant impact on consumer choices. New labeling standards, staff education, and the willingness of restaurateurs to be a part of the solution are making all the difference in the world to the 20 million Americans who need gluten-free options.

Charitable Giving Supports Community, Attracts Customers

June 16, 2010

Throughout the economic downturn, restaurateurs have been forced to make difficult decisions in staffing, menu selections and charitable donations.  Determining the best way to balance the needs of employees, customers and the surrounding community with the financial demands of keeping a business solvent when times are tight is challenging to say the least.

Restaurateurs and Charitable Donations: To Give or Not to Give
For some, the answer has been to scale back on all fronts, including charitable giving. For others, charitable giving has become even more important. Those who have managed to continue supporting local and national non-profits have a few things in common:

  • Commitment: Restaurateurs who give regularly share a commitment to the community and a recognition that though business may be down, others are also feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. For some, this commitment extends to national non-profits whose donations are down.
  • Creativity: Another common trend among consistent givers is an ability to think creatively. Some restaurateurs raise significant capital auctioning meals for 10 in private homes. Others have created specialty drinks whose name or color is connected to a local or national charity and whose proceeds benefit the charity.

Return on Investment
Restaurateurs nationwide are coming up with surprising and inventive ways to support their favorite charitable organizations. And though the decision to do so typically did not start with a question of profits, many have found that working to strengthen the community has the added benefit of strengthening the restaurant.

Customers are attracted by the prospects of a fun evening out or a specialty item that benefits those in need. Gift certificate giveaways, private dinners and other donations promote the restaurant and allow the owner to highlight the facility, its food and its staff.

The Passion of Charitable Giving
The old saying that enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm seems true for charitable giving. Many restaurateurs have discovered that their passion for charitable giving is contagious as both employees and customers often promote the charity and the restaurant with abandon.

Generous Restaurateurs Donate their Time and Expertise to Fight Childhood Hunger

May 29, 2010

It’s estimated that as many as 17 million children, or approximately one in four, in America face hunger daily with many of their parents uncertain as to where food for the next meal will come from. This year, more than 3000 restaurateurs, chefs and mixologists throughout the country will participate in the annual Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation events in an effort to fight childhood hunger within the U.S.

Taste of the Nation
The Taste of the Nation events began in 1988 in an effort to bring awareness to the issue of childhood hunger and to eliminate hunger in our nation’s children. By donating 100% of the ticket price to the cause of fighting childhood hunger, Taste of the Nation has managed to raise more than $73 million over the past twenty-two years. These efforts have attracted quality sponsors and skilled restaurateurs to the cause.

American Express’ Partnership with Share Our Strength®
American Express has once again joined in partnership with Share Our Strength® in fighting childhood hunger. This marks the 19th year in which American Express has been a sponsor for Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation. Over the past 18 years, American Express has contributed in excess of $30 million toward overcoming hunger in our nation’s children.

Award Winning Chefs and Restaurateurs
Award winning chefs like Michelle Bernstein, David Burke and others are donating their creative expertise in order to make this year’s Taste of the Nation even better. Restaurateurs and mixologists are also joining in the fun to create a memorable experience for all and to help raise awareness and capital toward the fight of childhood hunger throughout the U.S.

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation events are taking place at various locations throughout the country. To share your strengths and join the more than 3000 restaurateurs, mixologists and notable chefs in the cause of fighting childhood hunger visit