Gluten free travel – the EU

There are many reasons why people choose to eat gluten free. All the way from being trendy, to a full-blown allergy. As a celiac, I do not have an allergy, but eating gluten causes serious damage to my intestines, pain and other less palatable symptoms.

When I am “glutened”, I like to think I know it (even if the research suggests it’s unlikely) because the symptoms are so manifest. But how can you travel all around the world, and be safe as a celiac or a gluten-allergy sufferer?

I have now traveled to over 40 countries, and I have managed pretty well. This is part of a series of posts where I will write briefly about eating while abroad in various parts of the world.

European Union

In the EU (including the UK), there is a law that requires all food, whether pre-packaged or not, to be labeled clearly. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to eat out there, but it does at least mean that things are improving, and that restaurants are breaking the law if they tell you “I don’t know” when you ask whether they can cope with a celiac customer.

When traveling in the EU, carry a card in the local language, that describes your needs, and don’t be afraid to walk away if the chef is uncertain, or if you get a bad vibe. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Packaged food has required labeling for over ten years now, and so all products will say something like “Contains gluten”, “Contains wheat”, “Contains barley” etc. They do not have to say “Contains gluten” so long as they mention a grain that contains gluten, such as wheat or barley.

Because of this law, some companies such as Kraft, in the USA, have adopted this labeling in other territories. Do not rely on it in those other territories, unless you know that the brand does this consistently.

The image at the top is of the great Oscar & Bentley’s in Cambridge taken back in 2013.

See our list of Gluten Free restaurants in England

About the author

Code and Copy is a career, travel and general information website written by Gavin Ayling.
Gavin is a copywriter, software coder, and board gamer living in beautiful New Hampshire. He has been blogging since 2002 and has been a celiac since the early 1980s.
Gavin has traveled to over 40 countries and has lived in three countries on different continents.

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