What is gluten free catering and why it’s important

There’s nothing worse than missing out. Picture this: A beautiful spread gets put out for your business meeting, but no one asked if gluten free catering options were needed. Your client can’t eat anything that’s been served due to a gluten intolerance or allergy.

You’d be pretty embarrassed, right? We wouldn’t blame you, which is why we’re going to explain the importance of gluten free catering, and give you some tips to get started.

What is gluten free?

Gluten is a protein family present in grains, such as wheat, barley, rye and oats. The two primary offenders are the proteins glutenin and gliadin.

There are two conditions which require a gluten free diet as treatment. An intolerance or sensitivity to gluten is diagnosed, when the patient suffers a variety of symptoms following gluten consumption. They can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Excessive wind
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea

An allergy to gluten is diagnosed as coeliac disease. Unlike an intolerance, coeliac disease is an autoimmune deficiency. If you’re coeliac, you’re unable to digest gluten and can have difficulty absorbing nutrients in some foods.

The side effects of an intolerance are primarily gastrointestinal and can last between hours and days after consuming gluten. Coeliacs, on the other hand, can do permanent damage to their stomach, and in serious cases, even go into life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Anyone suffering from coeliac disease absolutely cannot consume gluten.

gluten free catering


Oats are a tricky one. Not everyone with a gluten intolerance will react to them, but coeliacs will need to steer clear. Therefore, it’s probably best to exclude products that contain oats, just to be safe. Due to the uncertain reactions with oats, corporate caterers won’t label oat products as gluten free. So, if you’re looking at breakfast or baked options, you can be sure that oats will be excluded from the available options.

How common is gluten?

Gluten is one of the most common intolerance's in the UK.

1 in 100 people in the UK suffer from coeliac disease, but 80% will never be diagnosed, attributing their symptoms to other conditions or being misdiagnosed as other digestive conditions.

Identifying the commonality of an intolerance is more difficult as it affects people differently. However, from our experience as corporate caterers, gluten free options are being included in nearly every order we deliver!

Popular alternatives for a gluten free diet

It’s not as hard as it sounds to cater for a gluten free diet!

Breakfast options

gluten free catering for corporate breakfast meetings

Gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean no bread or pastries. Buckwheat, rice, corn, and other gluten free flours are used to create alternative breads, cakes and other baked goods. As gluten provides the elasticity and “airiness” in breads, cakes and pastries, gluten free alternatives are usually much more dense and crumbly.  

There’s plenty of gluten free granola options available as well, which make the perfect topping for fruit salad and yogurt pots. Speaking of fruit, you can’t beat fresh fruit as a light and nutritious way to start the day.

We suggest providing some particular gluten free options however, just to show that you’ve actually thought about their requirements. Fruit is a common “accidental” option, and it can be a little tough for your gluten free guests if everyone else is eating pastries and quiches and they only get some fruit slices!


Gluten free snacks are easy to come by, and are usually labelled in the supermarket and on catering menus. Consider these tasty nibbles for your clients or colleagues:

  • Biscuits
  • Fruit
  • Brownies
  • Rice paper rolls
  • Rice crackers and houmous
  • Yogurt pots
  • Mini muffins

They sound quite ordinary right? That’s because they are! Contrary to popular belief, a gluten free diet isn’t super limiting.

Lunch alternatives

gluten free catering for working lunches

Gluten free bread is readily available from any good working lunch caterer, supermarket and local fresh produce markets. There are also gluten free wraps and other satisfying alternatives to satisfy everyone. So sandwiches don’t need to be excluded!

Is rice gluten free?

One common misconception about gluten free eating is rice. Rice is naturally gluten free and safe to eat for both intolerance's and allergies!

So yeah...it’s important to cater for gluten free diets!

By now the answer should be clear. Gluten free catering is an important consideration whether you're planning an office party or a business meeting. It’s easy to do, and if you’re ordering through EatFirst, the vast majority of our corporate caterers provide amazing gluten free menu items.

Get inspired with these gluten free cuisines

Sick of boring salads? There are heaps of international cuisines that offer a range of gluten free options.

Middle Eastern

Middle Eastern food contain lots of gluten free dishes, including grilled meats and vegetables and stews, served with rice and chickpeas.


Swap out the flour tortillas for corn tortillas.

Feeling inspired? Mexican caterer, Pablo's Kitchen, shows us how to make the best guacamole ever in this short video.


Thai cuisine uses fish sauce instead of soy sauce, which contain wheat. There are a variety of gluten free options available including:

  • Curries with rice
  • Noodles with rice noodles, such as pad Thai
  • Spring rolls using rice paper


Tasty vegetarian and meat curries, rice and lentil based dosa and breads made from chickpea flour are some of the tasty food options available if you’re on a gluten free diet.

To ensure your clients and colleagues have delicious gluten free options available, get in touch with the EatFirst experts today and we’ll help you navigate the menus to find everyone’s favourites!

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