A Letter to David Cameron – Re. Coeliac’s

Dear Mr Cameron,

I appreciate you are a fairly busy man and may well have bigger fish to fry but I feel the need to write to you about coeliac’s.  Truthfully my knowledge of coeliac’s is minimal, and to be extremely honest the first time I had a conversation about coeliac’s I spent the first half of the conversation thinking they were talking about ‘celeriac’  (the ugly rancid root vegetable), this was both perplexing for me and bemusing for my friend.   I am not a coeliac (as far as I know) but I am currently on a personal quest to consume every branded breakfast cereal box by box, this quest is very long winded (literally in the case of heavily oat based cereals) and I have had some highs and lows over the last couple of years.  Recently I started on the gluten free stage of my cereal quest and it has been very interesting.  I had a pre-conception that all gluten free food would taste like a soggy day old poppadum, this was incorrect, and I apologise.  The first thing I noticed about gluten free cereal was that the box of cereal is half the size of a standard box of ‘normal’ cereal, the second thing I noticed (after a few issues with a self service checkout in Tesco’s that was convinced I was a thief, a thief  who’s sole aim was to steal pasteurised milk) was the crazy price.  Gluten Free cereal costs a lot more than ‘normal’ cereal.  For my quest this is largely irrelevant (apart from a cost per portion graph I am working on) but for my wallet it is annoying, especially considering you get half the quantity of cereal in gluten-free boxes than you get in ‘normal’ cereals.

I personally do not like oats, occasionally they have left me in sweaty state of agony and regret, I make the choice to avoid oat based cereals and foods as best I can (I always make the effort to ask waiting staff at restaurants whether their apple crumble is topped with crumble like it should be or if it has been made by a lazy ‘chef’ who has just chucked some oats on it), but the joy of this is I can choose something else.  There is a multitude of foods I can buy and consume without fear of getting taken to hospital, but for coeliac’s this is different.  Coeliac’s have a particularly limited and at times unexciting diet, I have never met an overweight coeliac.  My big issue is that coeliac’s have no choice, they have to opt for gluten free foods, it’s that or they get very ill, they are diagnosed by doctors and medical professionals as having coeliac disease, it is an official disease, something that is medically serious for them.  Therefore, how can it be allowed that they are just put over a barrel by manufacturers and are forced to pay whatever price the manufacturers think up, they don’t get any subsidies or financial help to deal with the extra expense and are stuck paying more and getting less.  It is wrong.  It is the equivalent of charging a wheelchair user more to get in to an event than a ‘normal’ person because they are taking their wheelchair.  If that started happening there would be uproar, and rightly so.  In the UK about 1 in 100 people have coeliac disease, there is around the same amount of people that use a wheelchair, the major difference is that you can see a wheelchair user is a wheelchair user because they have a wheelchair.  This is not about me and really doesn’t affect me but from a very quick look from the outside even I can see this is wrong and unfair.

A few years back I wrote to the Olympic committee about making ‘Crazy Golf’ an Olympic event, I am still awaiting a reply.  But this matter probably affects more people in the UK than some crazy golfers so I would be so grateful for a reply. I would appreciate your views on this and understand it will likely be low on your list of things to do but a reply from you or the relevant department would be gratefully received.

Best regards,

Phil Botto

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