According to a study published in 2015 by the journal Digestion, 1 in 100 people in the U.S. has celiac disease. It is a digestive disorder that can damage the small intestine and also prevent the body from receiving proper nutrients.

This disease is triggered by gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye, and is common in foods such as bread, pasta, cookies, and cakes. 

It is vital then that your bakery prepare for these customers, as well as those with gluten sensitivity and those who just generally avoid gluten for personal reasons.

Offering gluten-free items on your bakery’s menu can be a valuable service, and one that makes good business sense. However, before launching the menu, it’s critical to make sure that you follow procedures in order to ensure that food is prepared safely and the kitchen is sanitized and organized to be able to accommodate gluten-intolerant customers.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Be certain that the gluten-free items you serve will be true to the flavors of the foods you create. While it can be tempting to take the easy route when purchasing gluten-free ingredients and foods, a better long-term strategy is to seek out sources that are able to merge practicality with quality in gluten-free offerings.

2. Identify gluten-containing ingredients in your kitchen and isolate them. Sectioning off a portion of your kitchen for only gluten-free items will prevent any cross-contamination. The same goes for storage and equipment.  No matter where you use or keep them, a complete separation of items is a good idea.

3. Educate staff on the importance of gluten-free procedures. This is absolutely a priority. The dangers of gluten contamination should be effectively communicated, with special importance placed on how to prevent it. Employees should know about gluten, celiac disease, and why procedures must be followed precisely. Increase their awareness wherever possible, and this will lead to satisfied customers.

4. Finally, ask your customers. Feedback from those who deal with it on a daily basis can help you to better adapt your menu to a segment of the population that is often underserved. This will also help you to build a trust with them, and they will pass that on to other potential customers.

Your kitchen and dining areas don’t need a drastic overhaul in order for you to be a successful gluten-free food provider. A few tweaks to menu, preparation, and staff training, and you’ll soon see a major difference in customer satisfaction as they enjoy tasty gluten-free dishes without fear.