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Mercadona now offers 850 gluten-free products
SUPERMARKET chain Mercadona has increased its gluten-free product range and now offers more foodstuffs for the wheat-intolerant, or coeliac, than practically any other store.
The recent incorporation of 50 new items has brought the Valencia-based chain's range up to 850 products, giving those allergic to gluten a much wider choice and more opportunities for a varied and interesting diet.
Mercadona, which started out on the east coast of Spain but is now present all over the country received over 750 comments, suggestions and requests from wheat-intolerant customers and coeliac associations last year alone, and has acted on these by passing them onto distribution companies and food manufacturers, as well as the store's own factories.
They then aim to create products which taste as close to the mainstream version as possible, but which are free from gluten, and at a price as low as they feasibly can.
In practice, food which is suitable for coeliacs should have a gluten content lower than 20 parts per million (ppm) and exhaustive testing at every stage from the primary ingredients through to the end product has to be carried out to ensure either the absence of gluten or a tolerably-low level.
As a result of this intensive process, supermarkets which offer gluten-free foodstuffs use specialist manufacturers – in the case of Mercadona, Grupo Siro provides bread, biscuits and cakes, and Casa Tarradellas provides pizza.
These companies, like others specialising in coeliac food production, invest twice as much in investigation and development (I+D+i) as they otherwise would, since they cannot afford to allow defective produce or those with gluten content exceeding the maximum slip through the net.
Products for the wheat-intolerant at Mercadona include yoghurt, instant potato for making tortilla, or Spanish omelette, beans, sauces, hot chocolate powder, snack mixes, sliced bread, and even iced lollies and drinkable sorbet or granizado.
Mercadona has also worked closely with three coeliac organisations to create an information booklet for people recently diagnosed as gluten-intolerant, and their parents in the case of children, called The 100 questions of a coeliac.
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