Food for celiac patients in a company, what care should be taken?

By Luciana Tenreyro de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Translated by Lucila Agustina Norry from Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Concepts, suggestions and actions about the topic

To start with, and for a better understanding of the reasons of each topic, I will give a short explanation of celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a permanent intolerance to gluten, a group of proteins found in wheat, oat, barley and rye and products deriving from these four cereals (bread, cookies, cereal flakes, cereal bars, among others). These proteins are called toxic prolamins and the most harmful one is the gliadin, which is found in wheat. It should be considered that this is the most used flour in the food industry of our country.

Either children or adults can suffer from this disease. Nowadays, the incidence is higher in women than in men and it is estimated that 1 out of 100 inhabitants can suffer from celiac disease in Argentina.

Individuals with celiac disease have a genetic predisposition to suffer from this disease. It is known that it is more frequent to find it in members of the same family.

This intolerance produces a typical lesion to the intestinal mucosa resulting in an atrophy of the small intestine villi, which alters or reduces the absorption of food nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, mineral salts and vitamins). This is what produces a case of mal-absorption.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, that is to say, the defense system of celiacs would recognize gluten as “strange” or something which does not belong to the body and would produce antibodies or “defenses” against it. These antibodies would cause an intestine lesion with destruction or atrophy of its mucosa (inner layer of the intestine), producing a food absorption alteration.

There are many symptoms of this disease, such as: chronic diarrhea, abdominal distention, vomiting, weight loss, impaired growth, malnutrition, amenorrhea, osteoporosis, fractures, anemia, miscarriages and infertility, among others.

How is it diagnosed? Through a blood test to look for specific markers of the disease. If this test is positive, a biopsy of the small intestine is taken, which verifies the condition of the intestinal villi.

Which is the treatment? The main feature which defines this villi atrophy is that intestinal mucosa becomes fully NORMAL when a gluten-free diet (without wheat, oat, barley and rye) “for life” is started.

The intake of small quantities of gluten can produce intestinal villi lesions, although these lesions do not necessarily come with clinic symptoms. Therefore, even the smallest remains of gluten should be eliminated.

Any product containing ingredients such as wheat, oat, barley and rye or products deriving from them like starch, flour and baked goods, among others, should be removed from a diet.

We can consume all kinds of natural products such as meat, greens, fruit, pulses, eggs and vegetables, among others, without any previous medical test.

All leading brands of rice, sugar, honey, corn flour, table salt, butter, pasteurized, homogenized and sterilized milk, soft drinks, vinegar, wine, champagne and cider are suitable for consumption. Only these leading brands because, in this way, we make sure that these products are not contaminated with gluten remains.

Important tips for the kitchen or dining room of your company if there are people with this disease

●     As a general policy, all products in bulk (loose products) like flour, cereals, spices, powder to prepare jelly, among others, should be removed from the diet as they can be mixed with other products containing gluten or, in the case of corn or rice flour, grinding may have been done in mills where other cereals, like wheat and oat, are also ground.

●     It is not recommended to consume hand-made, unlabeled products, whose listed ingredients cannot be verified.

●     Frying gluten-free food (without wheat, oat, barley and rye) in oil in which gluten products were previously fried (e.g. potato tortillas, fried potatoes in fryers which are also used for frying breaded meat, pasties, food breaded with gluten, among others) should be avoided.

●     Be careful with ready-to-eat products, such as hamburgers, sauces and so on. They may contain wheat flour to mix or thicken the preparation.

●     Gluten-free pasta should be cooked separated from those containing gluten.

●     Where there is a doubt if a product may contain gluten, it should NOT be consumed.

●     In our country, it is not enough to read product labels as technical names of the ingredients found in the composition, in which gluten may be present, are often unknown. Argentine Association of Celiac disease and ACELA (Argentine Assistance to Celiacs), institutions which assist celiac people, prepared a Food and Medication Guide which is available to be consulted by all celiacs. This Guide is prepared on the basis of documentation given by the companies, which include certificates of food registered as gluten-free.

●     Room for storing gluten-free food exclusively should be available. The ideal situation is to provide an exclusive space of the kitchen for them, for instance, a shelf separated from the rest of the shelves.

●     Gluten-free preparations should be made and cooked before the other ones.

●     Use cooking utensils (tables, knives, forks, and so on) which are spotlessly clean to manipulate gluten-free food.

●     In some cases, it is recommended to have certain exclusive recipients to cook gluten-free products. This is due to the fact that it is difficult to clean them correctly due to their forms and there is a risk to find gluten remains in them. (strainer, slotted spoon, rolling pin and mainly a toaster).


Tips for NON celiac individuals

You need to consider that products for celiacs contain gluten-free ingredients in their composition, but this doesn’t mean that these are low-calorie products as celiacs can consume all kinds of fats and sugar in their diets.

The ideal situation is that EVERYBODY has a healthy diet based on products like lean meat and all kinds of fruit and vegetables. Choose dairy products, cheese and skimmed products, drink 2 or 3 liters of water every day and do physical exercise regularly.


I hope these tips are useful for you and you tell us your experiences on this topic.


Translator’s profile:

Lucila Agustina Norry es Traductora Pública en idioma inglés egresada de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Se dedica a la capacitación en idioma inglés de negocios y con objetivos específicos, principalmente inglés técnico, económico y legal, tanto en instituciones públicas (BCRA, CNV, Aerolíneas Argentinas) como en empresas privadas de primera línea. Brinda servicios de traducción en los pares de idiomas inglés <>español de documentos Comerciales (Contratos, actas, minutas, informes, estados contables), documentos legales (demandas, sentencias, escritos judiciales), documentos Públicos (Certificados, Diplomas, C.V.), documentos técnicos (manuales, informes técnicos) y sitios web.



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