How to Cater for Coeliacs

Why is such a guideline important?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, eating gluten-containing food has a damaging effect on the lining of the small intestine, which greatly reduces the absorption of nutrients from food. The only treatment for coeliac disease is a strict gluten free diet. Foods containing wheat, rye and barley must be avoided.

1-2% of the population suffer from coeliac disease (~5,000 in Malta), this is not including others who suffer from gluten sensitivity or other gluten related disorders.

By creating a safe environment to prepare gluten free food, a new wave of customers will be happy to trust the services of your establishment.

One has to remember that dietary requirements determine where a group of family or friends will decide to eat. Being able to provide safe gluten free food will automatically attract others irrespective if they suffer from the same condition. It’s safe to say that it is a win-win situation.

Our intention is to help you find the best approach for your business to be able to offer gluten free food.

Food Handling

  • Wash your hands with water and soap before handling gluten free food
  • Always handle gluten free food first, then gluten containing food
  • If gloves are used, it is important to change them before handling gluten free food
  • Clean clothes (such as aprons and gloves) must be used before handling gluten free food


  • It is important to always clean all surfaces, cutting boards and utensils with warm water and soap
  • Disposable cloths may be better than dish cloths


  • It is important to note that cross contamination can be direct (two products in contact with each other) or indirect (sharing utensils or using the same surfaces)
  • Ideally separate utensils are used, if this is not possible make sure they are properly cleaned before use
  • Gluten free products must be properly sealed in storage and stored separately from gluten containing products
  • Store gluten free products above gluten containing products
  • Keep in mind that once gluten has been added to a dish it is not suitable for coeliacs, any contaminated dish must be prepared from scratch. Example: instead of removing croutons from a salad, prepare it again from scratch.

Preparation Area

  • Set up a separate workplace to prepare gluten free food
  • If a separate area is not possible, ensure gluten free and gluten containing products are prepared one after the other. Always clean the workplace in between preparation of different dishes.
  • In both scenarios, preferably separate equipment is used (fryer, oven, baking tins)
  • It might be easier for your team to have separate utensils for gluten free food


  • Use reputable suppliers to provide gluten free products
  • Ideally use products that are licenced with the Crossed Grain Symbol or other gluten free claim
  • Ask for data sheets for further details
  • If no statement is found, ask suppliers or manufacturers to verify that it is gluten free
  • If no further information is provided, avoid using those products in gluten free dishes
  • Ask suppliers to avoid cross contamination
  • Do not accept products that have not been packaged properly

Storing Food

  • Store gluten free products separate from gluten containing products
  • Store gluten free products in clearly marked and enclosed boxes or containers
  • Set up a dedicated space or shelf for gluten free products
  • A separate area should be used to store gluten free products, if not possible use top shelves for gluten free products
  • When dealing with ingredients for both gluten free and gluten containing food, two containers should always be used and stored separately


  • It is important to always clean any appliances or equipment used before preparing a gluten free meal
  • Ensure equipment used for gluten free food is stored separately
  • Wash hands with soap and water, preferably use disposable paper towels before preparing a gluten free dish and after handling gluten containing foods
  • Separate probe thermometer for gluten free food or make sure it is probably cleaned before use
  • Use separate spreads or butter for gluten free dishes
  • Make sure to use fresh cooking oil when frying gluten free food. Don’t reuse oil that was used for gluten containing food.
  • Always be sure to use separate toasters or toast bags
  • Use separate grill or ensure it is properly cleaned before use
  • If you have clearly identified cross contamination, the workplace, equipment etc. must be cleaned before any new gluten free dishes are prepared


  • Ideally a separate oven is used
  • If the same oven is used:
    • Do not place gluten free and gluten containing food on the same tray
    • Ideally gluten free and gluten containing food is not cooked at the same time
    • If large capacity ovens are used, ensure gluten free food is protected from contamination by keeping it covered and placing it on top
    • Switch off oven ventilation function
  • Water, broths or oils must be exclusively used for gluten free dishes
  • Fryers must be exclusively used for gluten free foods, never use the same fryer

Serving Dishes

  • If dish is not going out immediately, make sure it is securely covered to avoid cross contamination from other dishes
  • If possible a single staff member handles the gluten free dish until table delivery
  • Staff members should be able to clearly distinguish which dishes are gluten free. You can make use of flags, stickers, colour coded plates or different shapes.


  • When managing reservations (phone or online) ask whether any guests are coeliac or gluten intolerant. This information enables your staff to make necessary preparations and ensures a seamless experience in the kitchen, avoiding any unexpected situations.

Customer Arrival

  • Staff members must be able to serve coeliacs
  • Another option is to have trained staff members to be able to cater for coeliacs
  • It is not required to change the entire menu, adding a few safe options is a good start
  • Staff members serving coeliacs must be knowledgeable on what the restaurant can provide
  • If you lack information on certain dishes, it is better to be honest and consult the manager or chef

Taking Orders

  • Before taking any orders, ask whether any guests are coeliac or gluten intolerant
  • Clearly indicate which dishes are gluten free
  • You may opt to have gluten free dishes as a separate order
  • Use of different coloured pencil or pen for a gluten free order
  • Develop a standard procedure for marking gluten free orders in the POS system to alert kitchen staff immediately. This also applies to online orders or orders from delivery apps.

Table Service

  • Wash your hands before service gluten free dishes
  • Serve gluten free dishes separately from the rest (first or last)
  • If trays are used, they must be clean
  • Gluten free bread should be served separately from the rest, ideally covered