EAST Renfrewshire pupils are the only schoolchildren in the UK who have access to a gluten-free accredited catering service.

The local authority is the sole British council to receive the certification from Coeliac UK, the body responsible for recognising organisations which demonstrate a commitment to providing for those with gluten-related disorders.

It comes after East Renfrewshire Council (ERC) set up a central production unit offering gluten-free meals in the new St Clare’s Primary, in Newton Mearns, to cater for the region’s schools.

From there, staff prepare and deliver specialist meals in packaging to prevent contamination.

A rigorous assessment process saw Coeliac UK inspectors help ERC employees with training on supply chain controls, storage, preparation, cooking and hygiene.

Councillor Paul O’Kane, convenor for education and equalities, told the Barrhead News: “We recognise the importance to both pupils and parents of children with coeliac disease having access to safe gluten-free options whilst at school.

“Receiving this accreditation from Coeliac UK will give extra reassurance that pupils with these specific dietary requirements are being well-catered for across our schools.

“We are delighted to be the first council in the UK to demonstrate our commitment to catering gluten-free and achieve this accreditation. A huge well done must go to everyone involved.”

Coeliac UK is the oldest and largest coeliac disease charity in the world and has been working for people with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis – an autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten – since 1968.

The charity works on behalf of those with the condition to support sufferers’ everyday living and further understanding through research.

Parents or carers who have queries regarding ERC’s school catering service should contact individual schools directly.