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News Release

12th May 2008

COELIAC UK IS CALLING FOR ‘FOOD WITHOUT FEAR’ FOR THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WITH COELIAC DISEASE

Coeliac UK, the national Charity for people with coeliac disease, is today, 12th May 2008, launching its new campaign for the year, ‘Food Without Fear’, for the improved provision of gluten-free meals across both the public sector and commercial catering industries.

Although diagnosis rates of coeliac disease are currently low, (see point 2 notes to editors) the potential catering market share of people with coeliac disease is 660,000 or 1 in 100 of the UK population. The commercial potential of this market segment is even higher because the need for gluten-free options drives the eating-out habits of the family and friends of those with coeliac disease too.

However, the need for gluten-free meals is clearly not being served; 67% of respondents in a survey1 of Coeliac UK members carried out by Oxford University said that were less likely to eat out after they had been diagnosed with coeliac disease because of the difficulties in finding safe gluten-free options.

Even the smallest trace of gluten can cause a person with coeliac disease to become seriously unwell. Often called ‘being glutened’, unwittingly eating gluten can lead individuals to be ill and off work for over a week.

During May, Coeliac UK is:

· Running a UK-wide recipe competition for chefs of all levels of experience to create an innovative gluten-free dish to be judged by celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli.

· Lobbying politicians in Westminster and Scotland to highlight the problems faced by people with coeliac disease when they eat-out either for pleasure or necessity.

· Coeliac UK Members are challenging their local restaurants and catering establishments to offer gluten-free meals.

Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK says: ‘Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease for which the only treatment is a lifelong strict gluten-free diet. The gluten-free diet is necessary to avoid the serious complications of coeliac disease such as infertility problems, bowel cancer and osteoporosis. And yet, even where people should feel safe, such as in hospital or school, getting a gluten-free meal can be very difficult, which is why we are pleased to have begun working with Hospital Catering Association to turn around this serious problem. We hope this work will show the way to the rest of the catering industry.’

Neil Watson~Jones, Chairman of the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) says: "The HCA is pleased to be working along side Coeliac UK to improve the situation for people with coeliac disease. Much work is being done by hospital caterers across the UK to improve food services for all patients with special dietary needs. The newly launched Coeliac UK Toolkit will be an important aid to caterers in increasing awareness of the illness and the action that should be taken to ensure patients with coeliac disease receive the appropriate food and beverages whilst in hospital".

End

For further information, please contact:

Kate Newman kate.newman@coeliac.org.uk Tel: 0208 3997478 / 07952071014

Notes to editors:

1. Coeliac UK’s ‘Food Without Fear’ Awareness Week takes place between 12th – 18th May 2008.

2. 1 in 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease, however only 12.5% of these have been diagnosed and average length of diagnosis is 13 years.

3. A range of case studies of men, women and children are available on request from Coeliac UK.

4. At the recent Hospital Caterers Association conference Coeliac UK launched a toolkit for hospital caterers providing them with detailed information and advice for catering for people with coeliac disease.

5. Members of Coeliac UK receive an annual Food and Drink Directory, which lists thousands of foods people with coeliac disease can eat.

6. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including spelt), rye and barley. Some people are also sensitive to oats. Obvious sources of gluten include breads, pastas, flours, cereals, cakes and biscuits. It is often used as an ingredient in many favourite foods such as fish fingers, sausages, gravies, sauces and soy sauce.

7. The symptoms of coeliac disease range from mild to severe and can vary between individuals. Not everyone with coeliac disease experiences gut related symptoms; any area of the body can be affected.

8. Symptoms can include bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, wind, tiredness, anaemia, headaches, mouth ulcers, recurrent miscarriages, weight loss (but not in all cases), skin problems, depression, joint or bone pain and nerve problems.

9. Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) is a skin presentation of coeliac disease, estimated to affect 1 in 10,000 people. . People with DH react to gluten by developing itchy, red raised patches, often with blisters that burst with scratching. Elbows, knees and buttocks are most commonly affected, but any area of skin can be affected. Even though they may not have gut related symptoms, most people with DH have the same kind of gut damage as seen in typical coeliac disease.

10. Around 1000 newly diagnosed people are joining Coeliac UK every month. For further details on membership please call the helpline on 0870 444 8804 further information can be found at www.coeliac.org.uk

References

1 Research quoted from the Health Economics Research Centre, University of Oxford survey of Coeliac UK Members 2007



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