Celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disease with more than 300 different symptoms (ranging from stomach issues to headaches, rashes and more), is difficult to diagnose. The diagnosis rate has doubled in the last five years, and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness estimates that 1 in 133 Americans have the disease, and most may be undiagnosed.
An equation that Beckee Moreland, of the NFCA has developed over years of research, training foodservice professionals across the country, and living with celiac disease herself, is “Awareness + Education = Loyal Customers.”
“If people in the foodservice industry are aware of what celiac disease is and why gluten-free options are requested, they're more apt to train their staff to prepare food safely and gluten-free,” Moreland says. “In the celiac community, word travels fast when customers feel confident that a dining establisment ‘gets it’ and they'll back that trust with return visits and referrals.”