Gluten Free Guerrillas

Cafe selling cakes saying they are gluton free when they are not !

I was on a coach trip with friends yesterday and i was delighted to see a cafe selling gluton free food. I had fish and chips gluton free bread and i really enjoyed the meal. There is a sign saying th G F food is prepared in same area which they where honest about . They had flapjack and chocolate crispie cake for sale saying G F.

I asked if they used G F oates and the lady said no as they were very expensive and they were tolerated by most people. The crispie cakes didnt have G F cornflakes in either. I didnt want to get the shop into trouble but i would like them to know this is wrong . People think they are getting G F but they might aswell buy any cake . They also had chocolate cake , i doubt if that was ok . Catere rs usually buy in bulk packs which are not normally G F.

7 Replies

This keeps cropping up and I have also read about coeliac being offered organic oats as gf by miss guided sellers.

There is no diference in pure oats and ordinary oats except that pure oats have to be ELISA tested on a regular basis and the pure oats companies tend to pay for specialist advertising in magazines like Crossed Grain. So the cost of these 'pure' oats is astronomical.

I would report them to the FSA for making a false claim because if they buy some oats that are contaminated they could ruin the coeliac day out. As they are paying lip service to the needs of the coeliac just to take their money. So it is not a case of getting them into trouble it is protecting other coeliac, so they need re-educating before thay make someone ill.




The FSA and Trading Standards and Environmental health do exist to protect consumers. So it's always worth informing them that you believe they are mis-selling gluten containing items as gluten free, in order to protect other Coeliacs and consumers as Jerry rightly says.

Of course in the first instance we'd recommend letting the retailer/ supplier know so they can take action, as it could be a simple mistake which they're keen to remedy themselves. Not everyone wishes to liaise directly with companies so an email is another approach or you can ask for advice from these sites, many of which are able to offer advice via freephone numbers within the UK:


Consumer Direct, funded by government, provides clear, practical consumer advice

*always a good all round starting point*

They have a great website has been designed to provide you with advice before you buy and the information you need to resolve your consumer issues after you have made a purchase. If you can't find the answers to your problem on the website, their regionally based telephone advisors can give practical advice on various consumer issues - from problems with cars to faulty household appliances.

08454 04 05 06 TSO

The body that oversees consumers rights, suppliers and labelling.

Food Labelling


The ASA is the UK's independent regulator of advertising across all media, including marketing on websites. We work to ensure ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful by applying the Advertising Codes. They are the body responsible for advertising and have a code of conduct which has also now given them power over online advertising (which is handy to know if anyone mis-sells gluten free products on line),

Details on what they regulate

Environmental Health

These are often Council run and govern local traders, markets, restaurants and over health and safety aspects as well as food health. Pre-Coeliac days I reported a restaurant I ate in with friends as we were all made very ill by the chicken. We raised the complaint at the time with the manager who was not concerned. I issued an online complaint to environmental health (yet non of my 6 friends wanted to).

I received a nice call from an enviromental health officer who said they'd paid the venue a visit and noted a number of concerns. They had issued a report to the venue and requested they adapt their kitchen and processes to improve food hygeine. It was nice to know that by making a complaint others would be prevented from being ill at the venue.


It can seem confusing but don't be put off as many overlap areas of responsibility or some just deal with media advertising (ASA), consumer (TSO). Consumer Direct is always a really good starting point and has handy guides on how to write an email/ letter of complaint. In some cases you may need to lodge a complaint with more than one body as both have powers to get involved and resolve the problem.

Often it only takes 10 minutes online to do so and prevent someone else having problems in future.

All of the bodies will only take action if you have a valid complaint so it's also fair to the retailer/ supplier and stops unscrupulous people abusing the system.

Hope this helps.


I will contact someone who can inform the cafe that they cant do this .


Good luck Jacksnanna. Let us know if you get any feedback it's always nice to know you've helped educate/ raise awareness of Coeliac Disease and prevent a newbie from being glutened.


I have rang Consumer Direct and informed them. They are going to get in touch with the cafe and tell them its against the law to sell as GF when they are not .


I have had a phone call today from trading standards . They re going to the cafe to see the owner.


That's great. Keep us posted. It's often hard for caterers/ retailers as the law is in transition to the new 2012 rules of 20ppm to be labelled GF. However, as you've stated using obviously GF ingredients and claiming they are GF when they are not (whether through ignorance or not) is not on and businesses need to know that. Often informing the business in the first instance helps them put right the problem and make changes. However, as you've done going to the right authorities can be effective to ensure they get good advice, training and they track such complaints. Which means they can identify patterns, common problems and help inform regulation in future as well.


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