Gluten-Free Travel in England and Wales
In April of 1999 my family traveled to England via British
Air, visit my husband's family there and in Wales. Please
remember that all the usual disclaimers apply (not medical
advice, check with your physician first, &c &c).
Food Lists, Gluten-Free, Milk-Free and More
You can obtain food lists. The grocers provide lists of their
own brands; the UK Coeliac Society's is more comprehensive.
- UK Coeliac Society
- has a website and can be emailed at CoeliacUK@aol.com.
They volunteered to send a list -- which I can pay for
when I arrive -- to wherever I would be staying when I
got there. However, the list never did arrive. They
wanted to send it at the last possible moment so it would
be absolutely current. I suggest you resist this
suggestion, and get them to send it to you well before
- Marks &
- has a website. Click on "Contact
Our Customer Services" at the bottom of the
page. From there you can send them a message, get phone
numbers, and see what "-free" food lists they
offer. They were very quick to respond and very helpful.
You can email them directly at Customer.Services9@marks-and-spencer.com.
- Provides a gluten-free and milk-free list, usually
available for browsing by asking the manager (if the
current edition is only a few pages, they may photocopy
it for you). You can also ring them up in advance and
have a list sent to you. I found them very willing to
help. Phone numbers can be found on their website on the
"Contact" page, or you can send a note to them
on their "Help" page.
Milk Substitutes that are Gluten-Free
Can often be found in local grocery stores, usually kept with
the canned milk, in the same long-life packaging we're familiar
with in the U.S.
- Provamel. A soya milk, and a soya (also there's a soya
yogurt called 'Yofu' in plain and fruit varieties)
- Vitasoy. In long life packaging (liquid)
- Tesco Soya Milk Unsweetened. 1 litre or 500ml carton
The Word on Regular Stores (if not listed above)
- "the Chemist" should have or be able to get
gluten-free items but if you have not had them prescribed
to you through the national health, they might be a
little pricey. (Also be aware that British coeliac
standards allow the use of wheat-starch which has been
specially prepared to reduce the amount of gluten in it;
I hear these items are delicious but do not want to get
used to wheat again, or make my son familiar with the
flavor. Not all gluten-free items there contain wheat
starch but, as always, read labels!)
- No further info on this grocery chain.
- Is reputed to be very knowledgeable and helpful with
- Also has a good reputation for being helpful, but is a
fairly small chain.
Health Food Stores
- Holland & Barrett
- Health & Diet Centre
Cow's Milk For Me, Thanks!
- this U.K site for the milk allergic and lactose
intolerant has lots and lots of information, including
even "where to buy" milk-free items if you are
traveling in the United Kingdom.
From Sue, who used to live in Oxford, I gained the following
information on labeling:
You can also look at food labels, which give a bit more
information than here. British and European governments don't
allow as many artificial ingredients in foods as American
governments do. Canned and packaged goods will often specify
whether they are GF with the international symbol: a stalk of
grain in a circle with a slash through it. Not all foods have
this, but most of the main brands do.
I did find that many items were actually labeled
"gluten-free" (like Heinz ketchup!). There was only one
mysterious ingredient, "rusks" which by family
discussion we decided was probably not gluten-free, as the only
"rusks" anyone could think of were a sort of teething
biscuit babies chomp on, which would definitely contain wheat.
In the Bristol Area: (info provided by David J
- in Gloucester Road (I have been warned that this may be
up for sale so may no longer make GF food) A Gujerat
(vegetarian food) Indian restaurant - cheap and very
- in Clifton - a Greek restaurant. Some of the staff know
about coeliac - I advise ringing early to make sure the
right people are "in".
- The Avon Gorge Hotel
- GREAT view, boring English food! Part of the Trust House
Forte group who guarantee that they can produce GF food.
- The Adelphi Hotel
- My inlaws had told me a story about the Adelphi Hotel
before we visited there; that it was the location of a
"docu-drama" in which the inner workings of the
hotel were exposed to the public eye. The chef there
seemed to be rather temperamental, always in a pinch
because no one kept him informed of upcoming events and
changes. A certain catch-phrase became famous because of
this chef (was it "Just cook!"?). Well, we
visited The Adelphi as one of Britain's premiere science
fiction conventions is held there near Easter, and with
our specialized diet, the words in the visitor's guide in
the program book were rather frightening, to the effect
that no food was to be brought in from outside, and those
who broke the rules would be dealt with severely.
However, when I explained our family's limitations, I was
quickly informed that the Adelphi's chef -- the famous
one -- is a celiac, and he would be able to cook us a
fabulous cake that had no wheat or milk in it. My kids
got very excited by this prospect, as they rarely get a
decent slice of cake. However, despite the promises of
the staff, no cake ever appeared, and the kids were
crushed (I was disappointed too). I wish that they had
not made a promise they would not keep. We did get one
specially cooked gluten-free meal (chicken with a tomato
sauce) which was nice, but not spectacular. Perhaps if
you were going to Liverpool for an extended stay, you
could discuss your diet in advance with the chef, and get
something really nice.
Gluten-Free Foods, Without Wheat Starch (But Still Tasting
- In England, though they are thinking about shipping
world-wide. Complete with ingredients lists. Very nice
Linda Blanchard All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Date
Added: March 17, 1999. Last Update: January 2, 2000.