Gluten free guide to London

Gluten Free Bread at POD

Pod is a chain of healthy and natural fast food restaurants located mainly in the City of London but now expanding into the West End. I’ve written before about their wide range of gluten free foods, both sweet and savoury as I was a daily (sometimes twice daily) customer when my office was located next door to a Pod.

POD Food

In the last couple of weeks Pod have started offering gluten free bread by Genius with various options on their breakfast menu including scrambled eggs and bacon sandwiches. Just imagine….your colleagues are tucking into their bacon sarnies following a big night out. And you have a yoghurt. Again. Not any more if you work/live near a Pod.

Well, sort of.

One of the things I like about Pod – apart from the food – is the CEO prints his email address on the back of the menus and invites you to contact him if you have any questions. So I did just that. How, I asked, was their gluten free bread prepared? Did they have a separate toaster for the gluten and gluten free bread? I’d already asked in the restaurant I was having my lunch in. They’d told me the gluten free bread was not toasted in a separate toaster but I wanted to double check.

I promptly received the following reply:

“Thanks for taking the time to contact us with your feedback and for your questions. I’m so glad you can are pleased to see the addition of gluten free bread to our menu!

We are grateful that you have brought this to our attention. We in fact were not aware that gluten free bread needed to be toasted separately from standard bread and I would like to apologise on behalf of the team that we had been toasting both breads together until now.

As of next Friday [19th October 2012] our gluten free bread will be toasted separately (the GF bread will be toasted in toaster bags) and all our team members will be made aware of this procedure. Thank you so much for highlighting the importance this is for Coeliac’s – we always want to accommodate for customers with specific nutritional requirements.”

Yes, they have made a mistake in toasting the bread together. Since we all need to take personal responsibility for the food we consume (as far as is possible!), I’d like to hope that any other coeliacs visiting Pod would have checked how the gluten free bread was prepared before ordering. However, I’m pleased to see that the Pod management have reacted quickly to address the problem and to provide a solution which will make the gluten free bread suitable for Coeliacs.

I wonder whether other companies, when notified of this issue, would have gone to the effort and cost of rapidly ordering toaster bags, changing their procedure and training their staff? I suspect many companies would simply not make that investment, as we have seen with some food manufacturers since the change to gluten free labelling laws were enforced in January 2012.

At the end of the email I was offered 2 bacon sandwiches on gluten free bread as a thank you for contacting them about this. I look forward to trying them, but only after 19th October and having checked with the Pod I go to that they’re using the toaster bags.

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