A quick thought

A QUICK thought on the Free From Food Awards that occurred to me as I was scribbling up the winners’ list.

Not only is there an absence of properly nut free stuff amongst them but there are very few foods that are safe for those with multiple allergies. Heaps of gluten free (and dairy free) out there, which is obviously laudable, but I’m worried that gluten free is becoming the fall back for anyone who wants to claim a ‘free from’ or ‘allergy friendly’ tag.

The supermarkets are among the worst culprits – they’re showering us with their ‘free from’ ranges but precious few of the products are safe for nut or egg allergy sufferers. Unless all the main allergens are covered it’s a bit of a box-ticking exercise, no?

That’s why Bessant and Drury’s win for their (*deep breath*) egg free, soya free, nut free, gluten free, dairy free, vegan ice cream caught my eye. (I think they’re probably wheat free, too, but need to check on that.) They’ve created a product that is not just aimed at the food allergy market but that can still declare itself to be allergy safe for many. I’d like to think this is the future for free from foods: not a specialist niche but an attempt to create properly luxury products that exclude the main allergens, but where taste is all.

I think the Free From Food Awards are a wonderful, important thing, but next year I would like to see a few more nut frees, sesame frees, soya frees and egg frees alongside the no gluten and no dairy winners. That’s not just a challenge to the awards, it’s a rallying cry to the industry. Please?

* UPDATE 25/4/12 Would you believe it, I’ve since found out that Bessant and Drury’s ice-cream isn’t ‘nut free’ after all. It’s made in a factory where nuts are present. Unfortunately their website states ‘nut free’ here, which I’m sure is just an oversight and a result of the fact that labelling laws are so confusing. Still, only serves to prove my point, I guess! They remain egg, soya, gluten and dairy free…

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5 thoughts on “A quick thought

  1. In haste – but – ABSOLUTELY agree! We (at the FreeFrom Food Awards) are for ever pushing (and awarding high marks to) companies to go that extra mile and exclude soya or egg or nut for their products as well as the ubiquitous dairy and gluten. The trouble is that the number of people with multiple allergies is far exceeded by those who only want to need to exclude dairy/gluten so, from a manufacturer’s point of view, you go where the most customers are going to be. But, we are getting there – witness the number of multi-freefrom products (like the Bessant and Drury Ices) that did get entered into this year’s awards.
    And next year we are introducing a special award for products manufactured in a nut free facility….

    1. Indeed – huge congrats Bethany! You’re on the winners list here… Am so pleased to know you’re nut free, too, as it isn’t immediately apparent on the website. I’ll amend my list to say so but it would be amazing if you could make it clear on the site/product when and if you’re able. I think that may be one issue – nut allergy sufferers are nervous if something doesn’t explicitly say ‘nut free’, given the unhelpfulness of current labelling where so many manufacturers warn of ‘traces’ (often to cover their own backs rather than in a bid to provide greater information). If you’re nut free, shout about it! Thanks so much for commenting and congratulations on the award once more. Alexa x

  2. I agree, it drives me mad that ‘free-from’ ranges are essentially still just for the coeliac market, the name is very confusing for most people with food allergy. It’s one of the first things I warn parents with newly diagnosed allergy kids (yep, I still see parents who don’t actually look at the label, but just buy free-from products assuming it will be ok for whatever allergy there child has!).

    Love the site by the way, the easter egg section is the one I wanted to do but with 2 jobs, 2 poorly kids on the run-up, I ran out of time. Will now put you as a link in my useful addresses section.

    Hope your little one continues to grow out of some of his other allergies.

    Julia

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