In the ‘freefrom’ retail world, ingredients lists are, so to speak, our bread and butter. By law they are there on every product that comes our way in, hopefully, but not always, in a legible size print, with the major allergens in bold and highlighted in a separate box. We expect them to be inclusive, comprehensive and comprehensible – and we get very cross if they are not. So it comes as a bit of a shock to realise that what happens in food retailing does not necessarily happen everywhere else.
We realised, when we set out with our Freefrom Restaurant/Eating Out Awards, that ingredients would be the main stumbling block for the food service trade. Why? Because, as from mid December 2014, all food service/catering establishments (restaurants, pubs, cafés, sandwich bars, canteens, schools etc) are going to have to be able to tell any customer who asks exactly what the allergen status of their food is. Which is why the catering industry is getting in such a twitter about allergens and why everyone is offering training courses, seminars, conferences etc to help bring them up to speed. (I am involved in two – the FDIN two day freefrom ‘summit’ in September and FATC’s conference in October – and I am sure there are lots more.)
But what I had not really twigged to until Alex started to blog about it, was how poor the grasp of ingredients declarations were in our fellow awards territory – freefrom skincare products. It is not that skincare manufacturers do not declare ingredients on packs their – they do. But…. all too often they are either illegibly small, or printed in white on cream, white on silver or some other very pretty but, from the point of view of someone trying to read them, completely impossible combination. Far worse is many brands’ total failure to list any ingredients information on their websites. Read Alex’s posts (and Hazel Gowland’s comments) here – FreeFrom ingredients? – and here – FreeFrom ingredients Part II – to get the full picture. Alex is threatening a full scale campaign…..