As the number of Americans interested in a gluten-free lifestyle increases, the doors open wider for the U.S. rice industry. USA Rice Federation domestic marketing programs promote naturally gluten-free rice as a healthy and versatile choice for the 21 million Americans who must or want to follow a gluten-free lifestyle.

As more consumers are requesting gluten-free meals at restaurants, high-profile foodservice operators like Disney Parks, Chipotle and Bonefish Grill are leading the way in supporting this growing trend. According to Mintel Menu Insights, gluten-free menu claims have increased 275 percent from 2009 to 2012, illustrating the growing momentum of the gluten-free lifestyle.

The USA Rice Federation supports chefs and foodservice operators by offering information about rice as a healthy foundation for gluten-free menu development. A recent feature on www.menurice.com publicized Chef Rob Landolphi, a recognized expert in gluten-free menu development, kitchen staff education and training, recipe execution, and quality assurance and safe food handling practices.

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In an interview with USA Rice, Landolphi noted, “I am a firm believer that as a chef, it is my responsibility to support local agriculture and to know where my food comes from. Knowing that rice is grown, produced and packaged in the United States is important.”

Operators can learn to safely accommodate gluten-free diners with rice recipes and resources available on www.usarice.com and www.menurice.com. Always in the forefront of foodservice and menu trends, USA Rice partners with organizations such as the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) to share resources about the important role rice plays in gluten-free dining.

“As one of the major grains that people who suffer from gluten intolerance consume, rice is one ingredient that chefs seek to be sure that meals they prepare are safe, on trend and appealing,” said Lola O'Rourke, director of Consumer Education for GIG.

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One featured resource is GIG’s Gluten-Free Food Service Management and Training Program. USA Rice points chefs to GIG’s database of more than 1,700 participating restaurants to promote the growing number of operators interested in meeting the demand for gluten-free dining options.

USA Rice’s recipe database is one of the most popular features on www.menurice.com. Gluten-free recipes such as a Seafood Risotto developed by the Celiac Sprue Association with the help of Executive Chef Aaron Flores are featured for chefs interested in updating their menu.

Knowing that this trend will continue to benefit rice, USA Rice will continue to join with and feature chefs and restaurants demonstrating their creativity with rice on the gluten-free menu.