Coeliac and Gluten Free Tweetup, 11th July 2011 - a summary of points

Well I thought the first one went well and I thought the second one went well too, and we had some new faces, which are always welcome.

We kicked off with a discussion about terminology and its misuse – coeliac disease being described as a ‘gluten allergy’, for instance. Should we make a point of correcting this?

* Ruth from WhatAllergy thought yes, as there is a big difference between allergy, intolerance and coeliac.
* John of GFLifeIreland, Annie SupperClub, and Sian GlutenFreeMrsD all found it frustrating.
* Sian confessed to using the word ‘allergy’ to get point across when abroad – and BooCakes agreed it’s effective in UK too.
* Annie thought coeliac should always be explained in auto-immune context.
* There was some agreement that it was a little hypocritical to use ‘allergy’ and then tick off the media for getting it wrong.
* VJ made the point that the word ‘disease’ in coeliac disease was offputting to many, and John agreed he would prefer another expression – although he wouldn’t want to have to spend the time to explain autoimmunity.

What kind of effect might terminology confusion / lack of understanding be having in society?

* Annie thought word ‘allergy’ has been devalued, in a sense – widely taken to mean ‘I don’t like’ something.
* Mark (Crazysmudge) pointed out that allergy is only taken seriously these days when qualified by ‘peanut’.
* Annie added that ‘glutenfree’ could be going the same way towards misuse / abuse: using the example of media bigging up tennis player Novak Djokovic’s performance thanks to his gluten free diet.
* Ruth said too many people claim allergies then order an allergen-filled dessert … and Annie agreed this caused problems wrt chefs/waiters
* A wise point from John: “If you have to explain the condition, you shouldn’t be eating in the restaurant” (because there’s always a cross-contamination concern)

BooCakes asked whether the increase in interest in GF a good or bad thing?

* On balance, said John – good, though he has mixed feelings
* Annie: “Raises public profile, maybe leads to more options, but also muddies water…”
* There appeared a general conclusion that the mainstreaming of GF had ‘buoyed the market’ and made life easier in terms of food choice for all.

There was lots of talk of a future meet up….

* A central London park / picnic, said Sian?
* Lots of murmurings of agreement from many gftweetuppers at that…
* Caroline Sugargrain said there’s a BBQ going on in South London early September…
* A weekend towards end of August / early September?

Favourite GF foods proved a popular discussion… Here are some that were mentioned:

* The Cake Crusader’s lemon drizzle cake
* Dietary Specials Pizza, Ciabatta brown rolls and Cornish Slices
* Honeybuns Bakery caramel shortbread
* Salute pasta
* TruFree custard creams
* Debbi & Andrew's Harrogate sausages
* Tesco’s Chocolate Macaroons
* Hale and Hearty Chocolate Breakfast Cereal
* Baked to Taste Cheese and Onion Pasty
* Isabels Doughballs Free From Pizza Bases
* Daura / Estrella lager
* Mongozo Beer (a new one to many)

Other random business:

* Waitrose boosted GF sales from Djoko effect
* The Cake Crusader put out a shout for #sbs (small business Sunday) on Twitter, from TheoPaphitis, and recommended it for other GF small businesses.
* Sian recommended Pod outlets

I think that’s it, but apologies if I’ve missed something out. Feel free to comment if so – and to discuss next tweet up – and a future meet up!

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