I haven’t done a restaurant review in quite some time but I have been to a few as of late! Most recently I ate with some friends at Tavola. It’s a quaint little restaurant located on Water Street in St. John’s. Previously, I had heard …
The holidays are coming! It’s almost December and I bet most people are struggling between making a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier in some capacity and tallying up the calories of all the food they will eat over Christmas. I myself have made quite …
My next restaurant review brings to light a very important topic…Health Inspectors overstepping their duties and working outside of their scope of practice and knowledge base.
I recently had lunch at Sushi Nami on George Street. I love it there and they actually were part of our Gluten Free Fair in June for our National Celiac Conference. They made all the sushi fresh on the spot and they have a wonderful gluten free menu and even bring in gluten free soy sauce!
I was super excited to go out for lunch this day with my friend and luckily the Manager served us so I was prepared to ask tons of questions. We started with the plain, salted edamame. Always a favorite. They also offer spicy edamame but it has gluten so stay with the plain folks! I then ordered the Veggie Dragon Roll. The gluten containing version of this actually has tempura sweet potato inside so I was very curious about how they cooked the sweet potato without the gluten. So I asked the Manager. She informed me that since she was promoting gluten free and was part of the gluten free food fair she wanted to be absolutely certain that none of her customers were harmed with cross contamination. So she had called in the Health Inspector to look at her kitchen. This Health Inspector proceeded to tell her that she could use the same deep fryer to deep fry gluten free foods because the deep fryer KILLLED gluten.
So I almost fell off my chair at this point because a.) Gluten is NOT a germ or bacteria that can be killed b.) Gluten is a protein and thus it takes EXTREMELY high temperatures to denature or break it down and even then the pieces of gluten can still cause a reaction and c.) That is not something a Health Inspector SHOULD be telling people since it is clearly not something they know about or learn about in their program. This is actually the second time I have heard of this happening. I have a Chef friend whose Health Inspector also told him that gluten will be killed in the deep fryer. Celiac Disease leads to so many complications when left untreated. One of the biggest of which is Lymphoma. Consuming gluten and damaging our insides leads to these further complications. A Health Inspector should know when something is in their scope and when to say, I don’t know about that and I’m not certain if I can give you information so let me put you in contact with someone who can. That is how you become good at your job. Not just knowing about things. But also knowing when you don’t know and stepping back. Especially when a person’s well being is on the line!
The manager took this in stride and I explained to her that the deep fryer temperature was not high enough to break down the gluten and make it safe for someone with Celiac to consume (or even someone with a wheat allergy). She was extremely receptive and told me from now on that when a customer orders gluten free, the parts that were supposed to be deep fried would now be grilled. I ate my Sushi Roll and it was amazingly delicious and oh so gluten free. I never got sick and I hopefully my experience will change the next customers experience there as well!
Moral of the story: Health Inspectors need to stay within their scope of practice. The Celiac Association has a Gluten Certification Program and Professionals who know about cross contamination come into restaurants and provide training to employees and insure that the premises is gluten free. A Health Inspector might know about germs and such but clearly they have no idea about allergies or Health Conditions.
Happy gluten free eating at Sushi Nami everyone! The food is amazing and the manager is super diligent! I give it two thumbs up!
If you want to read a little more info about deep frying and cross contamination check out this blog by a fellow Dietitian
The Newfie Celiac Dietitian!
I have been asked so many times ‘What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist,’ but I hadn’t realized until this weekend past what it meant to people. I was speaking with a gentleman and the topics of our respective occupations came up. When I told the man I was a Dietitian he asked me ‘What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?’ He continued on by saying, ‘I would much rather go to a Nutritionist than a Dietitian because a Nutritionist is going to go over all of my nutrients, vitamins and minerals and tell me what I need to be healthy, a Dietitian is just going to put me on a diet and I won’t be able to eat anything. A Dietitian sounds so much scarier.’
This is of course when I had my “AH HA” moment. For some time now, Dietitians have been trying to figure out why individuals seek out the advice of a Nutritionist, Nutritionalist or other nutrition related professional rather than a Dietitian. This might seem like a fruitless effort to some. Why do us Dietitians worry about where the public might be getting their nutrition information? It’s because Dietitians have to complete a four year degree program, followed by a competitive one year internship with a Healthcare system, for example I completed mine with Eastern Health, and only then can we write our National Certification exam which allows us to practice if we pass. The Dietitian profession is also regulated. This means that a governing body is responsible for insuring that the universities we attend are accredited and giving us the tools we need to complete our internships and our internships are accredited and giving us the tools to not only help our patients and clients but to also do them no harm. After a Dietitian completes and passes their registration exam, education does not stop there! Dietitians must register with their provincial college yearly to continue to practice. One of the purposes of this college is to make sure Dietitian’s keep their knowledge current. Every 3 years we need to have completed 45 education credits which comes from attending workshops, conferences, and completing research among other things. The College also acts to investigate complaints from the public to insure that a Dietitian is doing their jobs properly. If a Dietitian brings harm to a patient or client there will be repercussions and sometimes a Dietitian can lose their ability to practice. Lastly, because a Dietitian has to go through this strict process, the term Dietitian, or Registered Dietitian is protected. This means that legally, only a person who has gone through the above process can call themselves a Dietitian and write the initials ‘RD’ after their name.
With all this being said, I go back to my original question, why are Dietitians worried about where individuals are getting their nutrition info? It’s because any person who wishes to call themselves a Nutritionist can! The title Nutritionist isn’t protected and you never need even do a nutrition course to call yourself that. Now, all this being said, I have met some Nutritionists who are extremely educated and our Community Dietitians are called Nutritionists but it isn’t a regulated profession so there is no governing body to insure that every nutritionist is giving their clients safe and accurate information. Dietitians can call themselves Nutritionists if they like but Nutritionists cannot call themselves Dietitians. When in doubt, look for the initials ‘RD’ after the professionals name to confirm they are a Dietitian.
So, with all these thoughts in my head I look at the man who tells me a Dietitian sounds scary and I say ‘I never thought of it that way’ and I hadn’t! I thank him and I tell him that a Dietitian is what he is thinking of. We look at what nutrients you are taking in, what you might be missing, how you can get what you need and we also educate clients and patients about creating a healthier relationship with food.
Bringing all this together, a Dietitian’s job is to:
1. Give you tips and healthy recipes to help you plan, shop for and cook healthy meals for you and your family
2. Give you information to help you interpret food labels, the latest food trends and diets
3. Give you support to improve the relationship you have with food
4. Create a customized meal plan to help you
a. Manage your weight
b. Manage any food allergies or intolerances
c. Get the most from your workouts
d. Prevent and manage chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and kidney disease
5. Give you individualized counseling for stages throughout the lifespan including young “picky eaters”, active teenagers, pregnant women and elderly.
6. Give you advice on whether you need a vitamin or mineral supplement based on your health needs
At the end of the day, as a Dietitian and lover of all food, my motto is to enjoy all foods in moderation and I would never “put anyone on a diet” or tell a patient or client to cut something out of their diet unless eating it would be harmful based on an allergy or health concern they specifically have. Dietitians are here to help you make decisions about food. We love food and we love to help!