A NATIONAL charity based in High Wycombe is holding a course to help food companies cater for people who have an intolerance to gluten.

Coeliac UK is based in High Wycombe and is holding the course for the catering industry on May 13, as part of the charity's awareness week from May 12 to 18.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten; a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

It affects one in 100 people in the UK and the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life.

The training course is suitable for all food industry professionals in both the private and public sectors and will look at the challenges faced by people with Coeliac disease.

It will also examine the legal requirements associated with gluten-free labelling and will provide attendees with the knowledge and confidence to deliver a wide range of safe gluten-free food within the boundaries of the law.

According to research, people with the condition, and the family and friends they eat out with, are worth a potential £100 million a year to venues that can cater for them.

Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK, said: "The course is run by the charity and will advise caterers on how to serve gluten free dishes to help businesses tap into this lucrative gluten free market, not only for locals who have Coeliac disease, but also for the many tourists visiting the region who will need to eat out at restaurants who can cater for them".

As part of its drive to improve the availability of gluten free foods in stores across the UK, the charity is launching a new Gluten-Free Guarantee campaign, asking supermarkets to commit to having eight core items of gluten-free food in stock.

From May 12 to 18, the charity is asking people across the UK to tell them how many of the eight gluten-free staple items they can find. See www.coeliac.org.uk/gfg for more information.

Download the course booking form from www.coeliac.org.uk/courses or contact Zoe Bishop on 01494 796727. Places cost £99 (+VAT).