Dear NEC Birmingham,
I recently spent 5 days in one of your halls working with an exhibitor. That's 5 lunches and several tea breaks. Whilst most visitors to the NEC seemed quite content with the hot canteen dinners, the sandwiches, baguettes, caibattas, pasta salads, pastries, biscuits, crackers etc I'm afraid finding a lunch suitable for my diet was a lot more difficult. During one lunch break, I used up half of my lunch hour going through 2 halls to get my lunch from the jacket potato stand. Great, but I couldn't do that every day, after standing up for 9 hours a day, that's the last thing I wanted to do. I suffer from wheat intolerance so as you can imagine, all the above mentioned foods are out of limits. If I eat wheat, I suffer from 2 weeks of painful bloating, alternating constipation and diarreah, nausea, outbreaks of eczema and dandruff and wind. As you can imagine, I have to be careful about what I eat.
I struck me as odd that a company catering for thousands of visitors every week wouldn't have food choices for those on special diets. On one day, I found a salad that didn't contain pasta! Yet, it contained a dressing and the ingredients list gave nothing away. Even the salads containing noodles gave the misleading ingredient listing as 'noodles' - it didn't specify the sort of noodles i.e wheat or rice. On another day I asked about the Soup of the day, 'does it contain wheat flour?' after 5 minutes the assistant came back to me and said 'the chef doesn't know'.
All I'm saying is, what's wrong with a salad bar? A selection of meats, veg and dressings (with ingredients listed) and you're sorted. I'm not even asking for Gluten Free bread rolls, just a bit of salad without pasta, noodles, croutons et al. I'm sure it would be a big hit, not just for people on Gluten/Wheat free diets but with everyone looking for a change from the usual.