Gluten Free Food Products created in Darlington

PUBLISHED: 20:24 12 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:22 20 February 2013

Mandy and Keith in the kitchen

Mandy and Keith in the kitchen

One in 100 people have coeliac disease, which restricts the diet and can have serious effects. But diagnosis for one North East woman led to a brand new business, as Sue Campbell reports

I was at a dinner party recently and among the guests was a woman I hadnt met before. She was very charming, but she seemed to be very picky about her food. She didnt eat the same as us and she even had her own separate little butter dish.

I thought she was just a little precious about her food, one of those people who were very particular about what they liked and didnt like. But I was soon put right. When I asked our hostess about it, she explained her friend had coeliac disease. And while Id heard of it, I didnt really know much about it. So I did a bit of research.

Coeliac UK says that latest research shows that one in 100 people have coeliac disease, which is an autoimmune disease. Gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye, triggers an immune reaction. This means that eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and other parts of the body may be affected.

The symptoms of coeliac disease vary from person to person and can range from very mild to severe. They can include diarrhoea, constipation, nausea and vomiting, recurrent stomach pain, cramping, bloating, tiredness, headaches, weight loss, ulcers, osteoporosis, depression and even infertility.

It means eating, and particularly eating out, can be difficult. So I stand in admiration of a Darlington woman who when she was diagnosed with coeliac disease five years ago, started a journey which led her to set up her own company.

Mandy Savage found the gluten free food she had to eat largely unpalatable and tasteless. So she started experimenting by creating her own recipes and making her own food.

And while there were a few culinary disasters along the way, Mandy has now given up her job as a transport and care assistant with Darlington Borough Council and launched her own company, Gluten Free Food Products, with partner Keith Bond.

Mandy said: Coeliac disease significantly affects your lifestyle. Cross contamination is a major issue even a crumb on a butterknife can produce a serious reaction. Going out to dinner is a challenge and I always take my own food to things like barbeques.

Mandy said because she found many gluten free foods already on the market not to her taste, she started cooking herself. I had a few disasters, but then started producing pies and puddings which worked really well.

Mandy and Keith have set up their production kitchen in Laurel Way, Bishop Auckland, and launched their own range Mandys Gluten Free in September.

Keith, who is also an internet marketer, said: It is a big market and more and more people want gluten free and dairy free products. About two thirds of our range is both.

They have been supported by Taste North East, the not-for-profit membership company which aims to inspire everyone to discover source and share North East food and drink, of which they are members.

Taste North East is planning to run a dedicated event in Newcastle next year specially for coeliacs which will showcase produce, recipes and eateries which are coeliac friendly.

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