Living Gluten Free

Gluten Free Product Recalls **updated list**

If you’re in the UK, no doubt you’ll be aware by now that various gluten free products have been recalled over the last few days because they’ve been found to contain gluten. (If not, see below).

This is very disappointing – and a bit unnerving!

However, Coeliac UK say that the level of gluten found in the affected products is very low: between 5-80ppm. That is enough to disqualify the items as gluten free under the new rules, but under the old rules, a gluten free product could have had up to 200ppm, so these products would still have counted as gluten free back then.

Nevertheless, it is not good, and does damage the trust that people living free from have in manufactured products.

If you have any of these items in your cupboard, don’t eat them and do take them back to where you bought them for a refund.

All the affected products were made in the same factory; the problem has been identified, and they’re fixing it. Phew!

Coeliac daughter had bought some Sainsbury’s scones; luckily, the best before dates don’t match, so she’s fine, but she’s still uncertain about whether to eat the scones or not. As you know, free from products aren’t cheap!

But, impressively, Sainsbury’s have written to her to let her know about the recall, to ask her to throw the scones away, and to say that they have credited her Nectar account with points to cover the price she paid, as a way of refunding her for the purchase.

Hurrah for Sainsburys! This is a great use for those ever-growing customer databases…

And thanks to Coeliac UK for sending out such a reassuring and explanatory email. In case any of you aren’t members of Coeliac UK, I include the list of affected products below.

Asda Chosen by You 2 Free From Garlic & Coriander Naan Breads
best before: 2/7/15; 7/7/15; 9/7/15

Asda Chosen by You 2 Free From Pizza Bases
best before: 26/6/15, 30/6/15

Asda Chosen by You 4 Free From White Pitta Breads
best before 26/6/15, 30/6/15, 2/7/15

Genius Crumpets
best before: 18 June – 26 June 2015

Livwell Garlic Naan
best before: 20 Aug – 28 Aug 2015

Livwell Gluten Free Crumpets
best before: 21 June 2015

Morrisons Free From Pizza Bases
best before 29 May – 4 June 2015

Sainsburys freefrom 6 Syrup Pancakes
best before 12 July – 20 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom 2 Garlic & Coriander Naan
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom Multiseeded Pitta breads
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom Pizza Base
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom 4 Sultana Scones
best before 29 June – 7 July 2015

Tesco Free From 2 Garlic & Coriander Naan
best before 2 July – 10 July 2015

Tesco Free From 2 Pizza Bases
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Tesco Free From 4 Crumpets
best before 18 June – 25 June

Tesco Free From 4 Pitta Breads
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Waitrose Gluten Free Pancakes
best before 26 June – 3 July 2015

Waitrose Gluten Free Pitta
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Waitrose Gluten Free Scones
best before 7 June – 15 June 2015

*** Additions to the list 10 June ***

Sainsburys freefrom 4 white Pitta breads
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom Chocolate Muffin Cake
best before 12 July – 19 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom Blueberry Muffins
best before 10 June – 17 June

Tesco Free From 2 Chocolate Brownie Muffins
best before: all codes

Tesco Free From 4 Chocolate flavoured Brownie Cake Bars
best before: all codes

Cookery Classes: Gluten Free Bread and Gluten Free Pastry

Two new gluten free cookery classes, this time with Adriana Rabinovich!

She’s going to be hosting two gluten free cookery courses at Braxted Park at the end of September, one covering bread and the other pastry.

  • Gluten Free Bread: 23 September 2015

    An entire day devoted to the mystery of making your own gluten free bread. Adriana Rabinovich, an expert in gluten free baking, has designed this course to help you achieve fantastic results when making gluten free bread. This comprehensive hands on workshop will include demonstrations on making an everyday gluten free loaf with lots of tips and techniques to inspire you to make your own distinctive loaves at home. You will also make pizza, delicious flat breads, Mexican wraps and crispy breadsticks and a luxurious gluten free brioche. This course is suitable for all levels.

  • Gluten Free Pastry: 24 September 2015

    This new cookery course is a full day devoted to the art of gluten free pastry making. By the end of the day you will not only be making perfect gluten free short crust pastry every time, you will have expanded your gluten free pastry repertoire to include: choux pastry, pate sucree, chocolate pastry and hot water pastry. This course is suitable for all levels.

Each course costs £145, but they’re offering a 10% discount code when booking a place on either course. Use code GLUTEN10 at checkout to take advantage of this great offer.

I am seriously tempted. I’ve met Adriana a few times, and she truly is expert in gluten free baking (you can find out about her Cookbook for Kids book here). She was involved in Beyond Bread, too, and I have every confidence that these courses will be fab.

Found: gluten free treasure at Tesco

Well, what HAVE Tesco been up to?

Having gone through a period of free from doldrums over the last few years, the range of new products available in the Tesco Free From range in the last few weeks has gone up enormously.

This week I spotted:

  • Gluten free iced madeira celebration cakes: big and mini ones
  • A gluten free chocolate celebration cake
  • Finest gluten free carrot cake
  • Finest gluten free victoria sponge
  • Finest gluten free chocolate cake
  • Large gluten free fruit loaf, madeira loaf, and lemon drizzle cake
  • Finest gluten free chocolate ginger cookies, chocolate brownie, and chocolate millionaire cakes

I stood in the aisle and took pictures of the shelves to show coeliac daughter – I did get a few odd looks! And they’re awful photos – I’ve never been good at taking pictures – but you can see how pretty the celebration cakes are.


New products we’ve spotted and enjoyed over the last few months:

  • Gluten free strawberry and vanilla ice cream cones – very popular here!
  • The gluten free sweet and savoury party selections
  • Gluten free battered onion rings – onion rings! Who knew we needed these until they were there?
  • The ham hock and cheddar crispbakes, and the cheddar and onion crispbakes – these are delicious, and get shipped off to university for coeliac daughter every so often (no Tesco where she is)
  • Gluten free sweet and sour chicken bites – chinese flavours are rare in the free from world
  • Wholecreations gluten free spiced chicken pizza – this went down very well
  • And the Genius meat pies.

Wow, what a turn-up!

I met with some of the Tesco people a few months ago and they said they had some great stuff in the pipeline. And they were right.

Tesco may be having a bad time in the grand scheme of things, but the people creating new free from products for us are doing great!

But why isn’t there more fanfare? As a regular online shopper, they have my email address. They KNOW that I buy free from all the time. Why no special email to their free from customers? I think they’re missing a trick here.

Gluten Free Breakfasts: Cornflakes and Pains au Chocolat

Gluten free breakfast is something we’ve struggled with over the last couple of decades – but not at the moment!

I’ve mentioned them before but Nestlé’s gluten free honey cornflakes are proving to be a huge success for us. Coeliac daughter (a student living away from home these days) says

“they changed my breakfasts – I have good breakfasts now”

I did challenge what she meant by ‘good’ (Yummy? Healthy? Big?) and she said

“yummy, mostly healthy, and something that will keep me going”

crispie-cakesShe has the honey cornflakes every day for breakfast with milk, orange juice and a banana.

She also has cornflakes again in the evening as a snack…which does explain why every time she comes home, or we visit her, we strip the shelves in our local supermarket of boxes of the honey cornflakes, as she hasn’t found anywhere local to her that stocks them. She must be going through a couple of boxes a week… And no, I’m not worried about her not eating properly, as I know that she cooks a proper meal in the evenings as well!

She also really likes the Genius Pains au Chocolat, which I buy as a special treat for her occasionally: they’ve been very hard to find, and are a bit expensive for a student budget.

The are delicious, though, and truly remarkable – it really isn’t easy to make that kind of pastry, and these are not only gluten free, but also dairy free. No wonder they won the breakfast category, and were runners up in the innovation category of the Free From Foods Awards this year. (We had no idea they were dairy free until then.)

I wish that both these products were more easily available – both easier to find in store, and available in more shops across the country:

  • The honey cornflakes are not shelved with the other gluten free products, and nor are they shelved with other cornflakes (oddly) though the plain ones are. I’ve looked in various Tesco shops and in Sainsburys. It is necessary to play ‘hunt the honey boxes’ a bit, but they are worth looking for
  • And the pains au chocolat are obviously so popular that the shops that do stock them can’t keep them on the shelves. So if you see them, grab them! (Unless you live near us, obviously, in which case please leave them there for us to pick up(!)

The crispie cakes you see in the picture above were made in coeliac daughter’s student flat from Nestlé’s plain gluten free cornflakes. Pretty, aren’t they? She loves to bake, and her cakes get snaffled very quickly by her flatmates – yes, even though they are gluten free!

(Both Nestle and Genius sent us samples to try, but we are regular buyers of these products anyway, so our comments aren’t biased by receiving the samples)

In praise of FreeFrom Food Awards 2015 sponsors

sponsors-supportersHome again after a trip to London yesterday to go to the Awards ceremony for the FreeFrom Food Awards 2015 (yes, I served as judge again this year).

And what a great evening it was… it gets bigger every year as the variety of free from food available grows. And the quality of the products is getting better every year too, as companies are having to up their game in order to compete in this growing market.

You can see the full list of winners here but I want to tell you about the sponsors.

Organising awards like the FreeFrom Food Awards is a complex (and costly) affair, and the Awards team do an amazing job.

When I tell you that for just one of the categories I helped judge this year there were 55 entrants, and 11 judges, and that for another every dish had to be prepared separately to reach the table in its best possible condition, you’ll begin to understand that the coordination required is huge. There are a panel of about 70 judges overall, and 17 categories, with many products in each… It’s a lot of work, particularly since the number of categories and entrants grows every year.

And it wouldn’t be possible at all without the help of the companies who sponsor each category of award. Please do read to see who they are, and visit their own websites to learn more about what they do for the free from sector.

This year, those companies are:

  • Tesco, who sponsored Breakfast Foods

    Tesco had a great night, winning Best Retailer overall, and with several successful products, including their savoury party pack selection and their haddock fishcakes. Tesco have really enhanced their product range recently, and we’re delighted.

  • Genius, who sponsored the Bread category

    Genius also had a winner, with their gluten free and dairy free pains au chocolat (yes, read that again: dairy free). These are not often to be found in the supermarket near us, because they get snapped up so quickly. They’re good – and to be honest, we hadn’t even realised they were dairy free!

  • Sainsburys’, who sponsored the Store Cupboard section

    Sainsbury’s, like Tesco, are one of the big four supermarket chains here in the UK, and have been a reliable source of gluten free products for us for years. Some of their products are staples in our house, such as the baguettes – and the mini chocolate logs are a good treat.

  • Integrated Food Projects Ltd sponsored Pasta and Pizza

    Integrated Food Projects are a new sponsor for the FFFA, and they project-manage the development of food factories. They have an impressive client list, including the big supermarkets (and many others you’ll have heard of). Have a look at the list of services they offer; I’d no idea how much goes into building a new food factory.

  • Tiana Fair Trade Organics sponsored Raw Foods and Superfoods

    Tiana are experts in coconut products, which are becoming increasingly popular (have you noticed?). They import and manufacture a range of high quality organic and fair trade products in the food and beauty sectors. Their products are sold to retailers, wholesalers, the catering trade and the food production industry, as well as exported to other countries – and you can buy the products at their online shop.

  • Food and Drink Innovation Network sponsored Food to Go and Vending Machines

    The Food and Drink Innovation Network organise food and drink industry conferences and webinars in the UK, with a particular interest in innovation – not just product innovation, but best practice and innovation across the industry. (I’ve just subscribed to their newsfeed – there’s all sorts of interesting information in there).

  • Udi’s sponsored the ‘Down the pub and the bar’ category

    My coeliac daughter loves Udi’s bagels. Fairly new to this country, Udi’s seem to be adding new products to their range all the time. If you haven’t tried their bagels, you should: the plain and the chocolate chip are the current favourites here.

  • Genon Laboratories sponsored the Meat/Fish ready meals category

    Genon Laboratories is a UKAS accredited testing lab, offering niche analytical services to the food (and feed) industries. Of course, we’re mostly interested in their Food Allergen Testing service, but they offer a range of services to food producers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. This stuff matters! (Have a look at their Test in A Box site, too).

  • Goodness Direct sponsored the Veggie ready meals category

    GoodnessDirect is a long-established and successful online supermarket, selling a wide range of healthy, free from, eco and organic foods. The thing we like best about GoodnessDirect is that you can filter the products by diet, so you see only the products that are suitable for your needs. And some products can only be found there (especially if you live out in the rurals, like me). They told me last night that their new mobile site is now live too – so go and check it out.

  • Wellaby’s sponsored the Foods for Treenut/Peanut allergics category

    Wellaby’s produce a range of gluten free snacks, in a dedicated gluten free facility. Looking at their website, I can see that some of the products are chips+dips products; we’ve got to try those. I’ll see if I can find out where we can buy them…

  • Delamere Dairy sponsored the Foods for Children category

    I’m assuming everyone in the country knows who Delamere Dairy are? They sell specialty dairy products, including goat dairy products and soya products, and you’ll find their products on a supermarket shelf near you. They’re based very near me (not that I’m biased).

  • Mrs Crimbles sponsored the Tea Time category

    Mrs Crimbles is probably best known for their macaroons, which are widely available. But they have a much wider range than that, including snacks, crackers and stuffing mix. Plus, I learn from the Food & Drink Innovation Network (see above) that they’ve recently launched a new range of pasta and sauce packets. Check them out…

  • Romer Labs UK sponsored the Desserts and Puddings category

    Romer Labs are experts in food safety diagnostics, and run fully accredited service labs. They help ensure the highest quality standards at all stages of the supply chain in the agricultural, food and feed industries – and they have a complete portfolio for gluten testing, both in the lab, and in factories.

  • Free-From Heaven sponsored the Confectionery and chocolate category

    Free-From Heaven publish a series of magazines dedicated to free-from cooking and baking, so whether your interest is in dairy free, sugar free, gluten free, paleo or vegan cooking, there’ll be recipes in their magazines that will suit you. The magazines are available in supermarkets and other magazine stockists, as well as available for subscription online.

  • Holland & Barrett sponsored the Bars category

    I expect you know who Holland & Barrett are. They are a long established health food chain, with shops in high streets across the country. They sell a range of free from products in their shops – but they also have an online shop (which I didn’t realise until today). For a long time, high street health food shops were one of the few places you could find free from foods. Things are easier now, but they still play an important role.

  • Oakland International sponsored the Retailer of the Year category

    Oakland International are a food storage, picking, packing and distribution company, transporting food using ambient, chilled and frozen transportation. They deliver to retailers, convenience stores and food service outlets, but they will also help with trade shows and other events. They offer one of those services that consumers tend not to notice; but we wouldn’t be able to have the variety of choice that we do, without these services.

  • Food Matters Live sponsored the Innovation Award

    The Food Matters Live conference will be in the ExCeL centre, London, in November this year, and is the first cross-sector event bringing together professionals from across the food and drink industry, nutrition and health to explore the relationship between food, health and nutrition. It should be fascinating…

These awards make a big difference to those companies, big and small, whose products were shortlisted, commended, highly commended or winners, creating new opportunities for the businesses and publicising their products to consumers. And as I said, it wouldn’t happen without the sponsors.