Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Meeting and interview
The meeting was the local branch of Coeliac UK, held in a church hall and very well attended. This may have been because there was a food demonstration by Juvela, which always means a) free food and b) other giveaways from this major player in gluten-free retail. I arrived only just in time and took a chair at the back, which unfortunately meant that I was far too close to the horrible children who were at the back because they wouldn't shut up. I felt alternately desperately sorry for their mother and close to battering them to death with a chair. If I hadn't wanted to talk to the dietitian who was there, I really don't think I would have stayed, even for the free food, which I didn't actually get.
The cookery demo took place at the front, obviously, but on the same level as the chairs, so anyone more than three rows back (and there were about 15 rows altogether) couldn't see anything except the top of the presenter's head. Because of the kids, we had trouble hearing anything either, and I imagine some of the older folks with less acute hearing wouldn't have heard much even without the kids. But I stayed, through the long, tedious 90 minutes of demo, catching glimpses of stollen, pizza, cake and pastry. At the end, while everyone else mobbed the table at the front, I went to talk to the dietitian, who at the start had briefly spoken to the room about the gluten-free situation in the hospital where she works.
The regulations for gluten-free labelling are changing at the end of this year, when products labelled 'gluten-free' must have a verified gluten content of less than 20 parts per million (ppm), and 'very low gluten' will mean 21-100 ppm. A third classification of 'no gluten-containing ingredients' will indicate products that are likely to be safe but will not have been tested to establish the definitive gluten content. This has caused some upheaval in the food industry, and the dietitian was there to talk about the food service in the hospital, and to reassure members that there would be gluten-free food if they were admitted. There isn't a great variety, though, and if I needed to eat gluten-free I definitely wouldn't want to be there more than a week.
In terms of job opportunities, the dietitian (who is the Dietetic Manager in the region) confirmed that there aren't any. We had quite a long chat about this and that, but that was the end result. She's given me her email address and I shall send my CV, but I don't expect anything to come of it, at least in the short term. In the long term, what I've achieved is to have a chat with someone who's a senior dietitian and who may remember me as that graduate who bought her a cup of tea at that Coeliac UK meeting.
The interview was almost as unsatisfying, but I won't go into detail, except that it was for a part-time post that only lasts until March 2012, which has both benefits and drawbacks. And obviously I don't know if I will be offered it, and if I am, whether I will accept. I am looking forward to the other interview in a couple of weeks, and still have three 'live' applications and another suitable vacancy to apply for today. So I'd better get on with that.