Gluten Free Advance Party: Honeybuns

Week in, week out, for the last 11 years, I’ve been taking my children to our local leisure centre swimming pool for swimming lessons.

All of them can now swim well, and only our coeliac still goes: she’s doing it as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Award. (How they do grow up!)

In all that time, there’s been nothing in the leisure centre cafe that my coeliac daughter could eat, except a plate of chips or a jacket potato. Like so many small cafe-snackbars, they offer a range of hot and cold sandwiches, pies, burgers, cakes and pastries; naturally, none of their main range is gluten free.

However, this week we arrived and discovered a breach in the wall of gluten munchies: Honeybuns have arrived!

In my experience, Honeybuns mount an excellent spearhead action, beating a path for other manufacturers to follow.

For those who don’t know, Honeybuns provide pre-wrapped, portion-sized, gluten free cakes and biscuits, usually available near to the till in cafes and lunchtime providers. The benefit of pre-wrapped goods is a two-fold reassurance:

  • the purchaser gets the reassurance that there’s no cross-contamination in an inexperienced servery area (how often have you seen people using the same serving tongs for gluten free and for not gluten free stuff?)
  • and the seller knows that the unsold products will last a little longer than if they’d been cut off a single large cake (because the new-to-gluten-free stockist won’t know how fast the products will shift).

Plus, they taste nice.

My hope, of course, is that having realised there is a market out there, people will look at expanding their gluten free range. I think that the Honeybuns offering – or others like them – are a great way for first-timers to add a gluten free option, no matter how small, to their standard menu. Yay Honeybuns!

Image: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Living Gluten Free and the Corporate Website

Here’s interesting: Heinz have a link to information about their gluten free foods from the home page of their corporate site. Look, right in there among the Annual Report, Investor Relations and Careers material…

I’ve always loved Heinz for their labelling, and often recommend to worried parents of small children recently diagnosed that jacket potatoes with cheese and Heinz baked beans – or Heinz baked beans and sausages – is a nice, easy, gluten free meal to start with. (Only if you’re in the UK, though – recipes vary!).

Heinz are providing details of their gluten free products and questions about the gluten free diet answered by their Director of Global Nutrition, (both on their corporate site) so they are definitely taking it seriously. Helpfully, their list of gluten free products indicates in which countries these are gluten free.

And I didn’t know that Bi-Aglut was now part of the Heinz family – always something new to learn!

When is a food ‘Free From’?

Is it just me, or is anyone else concerned – or confused – about Boots’ latest promotional idea?

I had an email from them marketing their latest labelling idea – that products sold by them which are free from artificial colours, artificial flavours, hydrogenated fats and flavour enhancers should be labelled as Free From.bootslabel.gif

Now, I’m all for products without artificial colours and flavours etc, and commend Boots for their intention of labelling to help consumers, but surely ‘Free From’ (when used with respect to food, anyway) means free from at least one of gluten, wheat or dairy? It is used by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda and Morrisons to mean exactly this. (For those visitors not based in the UK, these are our five biggest supermarkets).

And yet Boots have decided to use it for a completely different purpose.

OK, so companies have the right to use language as they choose – within legal and ethical bounds, obviously! – but I’d have thought this was at least potentially misleading.

Or is it just me?

Changes in the UK gluten free market

Have you been reading about the sale of a part of Numico? Did you have any idea what it meant?

No, nor did I until today.

Numico isn’t exactly a high street name – but these are (if you are a coeliac): Dr Schar, Nutrition Point, Dietary Specials, Trufree and Glutafin.

It turns out that what all the press releases have been saying is that Dr Schar has bought Glutafin and Trufree from Numico. This means that Nutrition Point, whose parent company is Dr Schar, will add Trufree and Glutafin to their Dietary Specials range, giving them three – rather different – product ranges in the UK and Ireland. Glutafin products will become available in Europe.

I hope this means that all the ranges – including the Schar range – will continue to be available here, and that it doesn’t mean consolidation of the ranges, with the result that we have less to choose from. Especially if its our favourites that get eliminated! I’m sure we’re not alone in picking and choosing our favourites from across the market and we’re not loyal to one brand. We have enough restricted choice in the first place, without losing any more variety.

Gluten free makes good business

Another new business serving the needs of coeliacs (celiacs) has been set up, this time in Carlisle – see, the South Coast doesn’t have it all!

This one is called Claire’s Kitchen, and is a gluten free cafe and takeaway, serving sandwiches and pies as well as hot meals such as lasagne and chicken jalfrezi. This is a wonderful idea, as it is exactly this kind of quick grab-and-go food that is so difficult to find.

Claire Singleton-Browne, who is a coeliac (as is her son) set it up with her partner, Julian Armitage, and apparently they already have 120 customers a day coming from all over the city.

If only everyone understood the needs of the gluten free as well as this – good luck to Claire and Julian in this new venture.