THE steady rise in the number of people suffering from food intolerances has prompted one popular Forfar business to introduce a gluten free range on the menu.
Stuart Atkinson of North Street Chip Shop has trialled a gluten free range one Saturday lunch time a month, and the idea has really taken off.
Although in the early stages, Stuart has been so heartened with the response from customers that he is hoping to expand the menu.
Fliers promoting the monthly event have sparked off conversations in the chip shop with customers who either suffer from a food allergy, such as coeliac, or with those who have a friend or relative who has to adhere to a strict gluten free diet.
However, Stuart points out that although the gluten free lunches have been introduced for those with food allergies, they are perfectly acceptable for those without an allergy.
He said: “They are perfectly safe for everybody.”
The menu at the moment feature haddock, chicken, smoked sausage, potato fritters, onions rings and chips, with a haddock and chips children’s meal available.
Stuart continued: “There is no gluten in potatoes or fish, the problem is the batter as it is wheat based and wheat contain gluten.
“I have an alternative batter using flour rice which as no gluten in it and the only difference is the batter is very, very crunchy, otherwise the product is exactly the same.”
The gluten free Saturday lunch does mean extra work for the staff on the Friday evening as they have to completely drain the friers to ensure there is no gluten contamination.
Stuart said: “What we have to do for the gluten free event is completely drain the friers and put in fresh oils.
“It is a big job for us on the Friday night but we empty everything to make sure there are no batter scraps or bits of batter anywhere from the wheat based flour.
“The food is cooked in exactly the same way, it just has a different batter.
“I did have a few people asking about gluten free meals and started to do little bit of research.
“I then invited environmental health in to oversee our procedures and they are completely happy that we have not missed anything.
“When we got the all clear from them we thought we would run it and see what happened. I have been delighted with the response and so we have continued to do it.”
The lunch menu runs from 12 noon to 2 pm, with the latest event being held last Saturday.
The next gluten free lunch is on Saturday, September 29.
Stuart concluded: “We’re not normally open on a Saturday lunch time so we are trying to make this event their event. So if someone with a gluten allergy fancies a fish supper, they can have one although they are perfectly suitable for someone without a food intolerance.”