As H&C News readers know, the introduction of the new EU Food Information Regulations in December 2014 will have an immense effect on both the hospitality industry and in turn customers with food allergies or intolerances. And catering for the food allergy customer is already a rapidly growing market.
Which should mean that more attention than ever will be paid to this year’s FreeFrom Food Awards, the shortlist for which has just been revealed (see below).
Food service establishments of all types and sizes should take a close look: not only will the shortlisted products provide them with ideas and inspiration, the producers could prove invaluable suppliers!
The winners of the awards will be announced and presented on 25 March at an awards party at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Attendance at the event is by invitation only.
As you would expect, the judging for Awards where all products are gluten, wheat or dairy (cow’s milk) free – many are free of all three plus eggs, nuts and other major allergens – is both rigorous and challenging. But also enjoyable – see the cake judges at work above.
The food is all prepared according to the directions on the packaging, and feedback given to the judges about any products that do not seem to cook as per the instructions. The judges are given enough of each product to sample once, and then come back to again a little later.
Each category is judged ‘blind’. Judges are given judging sheets with the description and all details of the products – except who makes it! They are asked to taste the products using the following criteria:
• quality of product based on appearance, aroma, texture, flavour.
• usefulness – does it fulfil a really useful purpose for someone on a freefrom diet?
• cleverness – is it doing something which is really difficult to do in manufacturing terms?
• nutritional profile.
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, Founder of the FreeFrom Awards, editor FreeFromMatters sites, and Chair of Judges explains:
“From a judge’s point of view, what makes the Free From Food Awards different from most other awards that they might judge is that the ‘look, aroma, taste and texture’ of the foods put before them are only one (or four) of a much large number of issues that they need to consider.
• Has the product been manufactured in a dedicated (nut-free/gluten-free/dairy-free) facility or in a factory which also uses that allergen?
• Is it a really difficult product to manufacture ‘freefrom’ – e.g. a dairy, gluten and egg-free quiche or a dairy and gluten-free croissant – or is it a product that is naturally gluten, nut and dairy free anyhow – like a coconut macaroon?
• If the latter, should one discount it as it is not that hard to make freefrom or should one be encouraging its makers as it expands the range of products that those on ‘freefrom’ diets can eat?
• What is the nutritional profile of the product and are the manufacturers just using extra sugar, fat or salt to compensate for the lack of gluten? (Delighted to say that this is happening less and less often these days) Given that those on restricted diets may be nutritionally compromised should the nutritional profile of the product be given extra weight?
• Should they take price and value for money into account? Many new and innovative products use unusual and hard-to-procure ingredients and are made in very small quantities and are therefore very expensive. Should this be counted against the products or should price be ignored on the basis that if they are successful they will be able to produce in greater quantities and therefore the price will come down? (This has happened in a few cases in the past.)
• How good is the allergen labelling and the ingredient information? If it is not good, should the product, no matter how good it tastes, be ‘de-moted’?
For more details of the judging procedures and of the judges for the 2014 awards click here.
Shortlisted products for 2014
Click on the category below to see products shortlisted. Products are listed alphabetically by brand.
1. Breakfast – Sponsored by Tesco
Breakfast cereals, Breakfast baked goods, Animal milks, yogurts, Plant milks, yogurts and spreads
2. Bread – Sponsored by Genius Gluten Free
3. Store cupboard – Sponsored by Asda
Mixes – cakes, breads etc, soups, sauces, sweet miscellaneous – Yorkshire puddings/mixes, flours, sugar replacement, xanthan gum etc
4. Pasta and Pizza – Sponsored by the Food and Drink Innovation Network
5. Raw Foods and Superfoods – Sponsored by Food Heaven
6. ‘Food to go’ and food for vending machines – Sponsored by 24Vend
7. Foods designed for food service – Sponsored by Genon Laboratories
8. Ready Meals
Meat-based meals – Sponsored by Sainsbury’s
Meat-free meals – Sponsored by Goodness Direct
9. Foods manufactured in a nut-free environment – Sponsored by Anaphylaxis Campaign
10. Foods designed for children – Sponsored by Delamere Dairy
11. Foods for Christmas – Sponsored by Hale & Hearty
12. Scones, sweet biscuits, tarts and cookies – Sponsored by Mrs Crimbles
13. Cakes, cake bars, cupcakes and brownies – Sponsored by Newburn Bakehouse
14. After dinner foods – Sponsored by Udi’s
15. Gluten-free beers – Sponsored by Ilumi
For more information click here