Posted on July 24, 2015

Time for a rant about eating out. Normally I’m calm, collected and appreciative of efforts places make, but today I will rant.

Anyone who knows me personally – away from the moniker glutenfreeself – will know some intimate details about me. Coeliac aged 50, chronically ill until 37 – physically and mentally. Coeliac daughter aged 9. And a tad self-obsessed.

Anyway, we’re celebrating 16 years of marriage today – me and the wife not me and Free From and to divert the derision when we choose chain staples like TGIs, Pizza Express, Prezzo and Ed’s Easy Diner, we went all bijou-boutique-independent at Twyfords in the lovely Suffolk town of Beccles.

I had coffee and cake there the other week and was impressed by their separate gluten free menu.

Was today too with wife and children – until I noticed the small print, the get out of gluten jail card about cannot guarantee cross-contamination. Now what we should have done is left the cafe in the heavy rain and hot footed it to a chain in Norwich – but it seemed churlish when so much thought had gone into the separate menu – which couldn’t be guaranteed gluten free.

Drinks alarmed me on the gf menu – hot chocolate with cream and Maltesers. This was worse than risks of cross contamination cos Maltesers, Twyfords, contain gluten.

By the way, any coeliacs reading this, will realise we’re not being fussy or precious – we are allergic to gluten. Okay soiling oneself and vomiting in public are no anaphylactic shock but possibly more humiliating. You see, I’ve done 13 years gluten free, daughter 6 years, so traces or a Malteser will harm us.

Anyway, I didn’t order that drink but one with a flake on.

Gluten free sandwiches were ordered with safe drinks. I had that sinking feeling though when the son’s wrap was carried out with daughter’s – now I know gluten doesn’t play hopscotch across plates but at home we are fastidious in ensuring no problems. Separate toasters, separate cupboards for cereals etc. Hand washing is routine. But today despite the menu and checking, our daughter was glutened.

She vomited once, had diarrhoea twice – rushing back to the cafe and then again in Beales Department Store opposite. She was crying and screaming with pain, sweating. Fortunately she recovers quickly and after a bath tonight, has felt little but lethargy.

But, but this is my point:

Establishments – like Twyfords – don’t play at allergy menus. We are grateful that you provide such extensive choices for coeliacs but really what is the point if you can’t guarantee its safety? Lunch that cost £70 on a special day should not end in tears – I was alright, but it pained us all to see a 9 year old girl sick and in pain.

Twyfords, wise up, please.

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