Think “Free From”, think gluten free, right? I certainly used to.
When I ventured into the supermarket free from aisle in the early months after my son’s peanut allergy diagnosis, I invariably spotted a bag of almonds or nutty cookies, and moved swiftly on, empty handed and somewhat disheartened. However, it seems that, in giving up and searching elsewhere in the store, I wasn’t being hasty. The supermarket “free from” ranges aren’t aimed at those with nut allergies. The Sainsbury’s Freefrom range, for example, includes gluten, wheat, and dairy-free foods. Whereas all Tesco Free From range products “are Free From Wheat & Gluten. Some are Free From Dairy, Egg or Milk”. Whilst some products may also happen to be nut free, the ranges are not currently geared to those specifically seeking nut free foods.
So “free from = gluten free” was my perception. However, shortly after joining Twitter at the start of this year, I heard about the FreeFrom Food Awards. Founded in 2008 by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson and the team at FreeFrom Foods Matter, the awards:
“celebrate the innovation and imagination shown by the food industry in creating foods that are free of wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, soya or sulphites”.
Yes: nuts too!
The 2013 awards saw the return of the category entitled Foods manufactured in a nut-free environment. Eskal scooped first prize for its FreeNut Butter, having competed against the following shortlisted products:
“D&D Mixed Chocolate Fondants
Doves Farm Lemon Zest Cookies
Orgran Kids Mini Outback Animals Chocolate Cookies 8 Fun Packs Multipack
Rizopia Organic Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli
The Nut Free Chocolatier After Dinner Orange Crisps
The Nut Free Chocolatier Mint Delight
Wellfoods GF Pizza Bases”
As well as discovering all of the above nut free products, the very inclusion of this category in the Awards gave me some hope that one day the term “free from” might also encompass “nut free” (or at least signify a range that “includes some nut free options”).
The FreeFrom Food Awards 2014
It’s great news that the 2014 awards again include a Foods manufactured in a nut-free environment category.
Entry to the 2014 awards has now closed and the judging process will commence at the end of January. A shortlist for each category will be published on 12 February 2014 and the awards ceremony will take place in London on 25 March 2014.
Once the winners are published, I will post the link to the FreeFrom Food Awards announcement here.
From a day-to-day perspective, the Awards are an excellent way for us to discover safe new brands. And if the bigger picture is that they are prompting more and more food manufacturers to cater for the allergic consumer, that’s fantastic.