Catering butchers Hensons has removed the rusk from its range of gourmet and home-style beef burgers to make all the burgers it now produces and supplies suitable for those with coeliac disease and gluten intolerance.
Hensons burgers contain pure, British beef with salt, pepper, egg and a small amount of preservative to give them a shelf-life of one week. Under European law, the preservative has to have a carrier, normally rusk. Now Hensons have replaced the rusk with rice flour to remove gluten from the recipe entirely.
Explains Andrew Brook, managing director of Hensons: “There’s a greater spirit of inclusivity nowadays combined with a more educated public.
“People are better informed on health matters and when dining out, they expect any special diets that they have been advised to follow to be catered for and any intolerances or allergies that they may have not only to be recognised by a menu reference but also, acknowledged with an alternative option so that they have as much choice as their companions.”
Adds Andrew: “I have friends with gluten intolerance. Following a gluten-free diet can potentially be quite restrictive with most beers, pasta, most bread, cakes, cereals and certain types of sauces all outlawed, along with burgers and sausages unless they have had any rusk removed.
“For us, replacing the rusk in our burgers was a no brainer. They are still of the same great quality and taste. All that’s really changed is that our customers can confidently serve them to all their customers, safe in the knowledge that they can be enjoyed by everyone.”
Agrees David Maich, director of the Spur Corporation UK, which operates a growing number of Spur branded franchised steak and grill ranches throughout Britain: “We have been using Hensons burgers in excess of three years now. This category contributes to 27% of our total estates sales. We are therefore very diligent with taste profile & consistency. The change to gluten free burgers has not affected this taste profile and the frequency of customer requests regarding gluten free products are on the rise. This has ticked both boxes for us and we are happy with this change”
Research shows that coelic disease affects one in 100 Britons with a seemingly growing number of people suffering the effects of gluten allergy/intolerance. Minor symptoms of gluten allergy can include headaches, nausea and diarrhoea following consumption of gluten-based products but more severe reactions can be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome and have also been linked to depression.
Coelic disease is not a gluten allergy or intolerance but rather a life-long auto immune disease. An auto immune disease is where the immune system – the body’s defence against infection – mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. In coelic disease, the immune system mistakes substances found inside gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) as a threat to the body and attacks them. This damages the surface of the small bowel (intestines) not only disrupting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food but also causing a range of tummy problems, mouth ulcers, tiredness, skin rashes and even joint and bone pain.