Product Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and Recipes: All GLUTEN FREE!
With my sweet tooth, it was exciting to get involved with the Free From Food Awards 2016. These awards are the UK’s only industry awards for FreeFrom foods, started in 2008 by FoodsMatter and FreeFrom Foods Matter to encourage innovation and celebrate excellence in the FreeFrom food industry. The awards are entirely independent, supported by sponsorship and entry fees only. As a blogger, with a focus upon Chocolate (Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Bags and Chocolate Boxes), as well as enjoying travelling and eating out, it was great to be part of the team tasting a wide variety of entries for this year’s competition. I attended the Free From Eating Out Award ceremony last year so I have moved from being an observer to being an active participant:
For the Free From Food Awards 2016, I judged in three categories:
It was a new experience for me to be a “judge” trying many different products including lots of Chocolates but someone has to do it! The products are numbered and the team of judges are provided with a “Briefing Sheet” which outlines the Award Category entered, Price and weight per pack, Ingredients, Nutritional details and Allergen information. They were all removed from their packaging so no indication of the brand, product name or manufacturer: so we are tasting blindly, with lots of water provided to clean the palate.
With some of the entries, the Manufacturers specifically provided a recipe to make the product (specifically with Store Cupboard entries) which in some cases, made it a challenge to compare and contrast as their entry was one ingredient in a final product, and with several allergies, some of the products I could not try (such as those including egg yolk) but with a good circle of judges, “no-scores” are recorded so it does not have an impact on the result.
Once, we have individually tasted, rated and commented on the entries, a tally is made and an active discussion occurs. It was interesting to listen to the different perspectives that the judges all bring to the table: some with detailed nutritional knowledge who can advise whether the entry is good for the body or the soul, some food professionals provide a comprehensive background as to how hard it is to achieve a certain taste or manufacture the entry versus other food bloggers who can advise whether this is widely available or not (as the case is often!). After a shortlist is compiled, further discussion is prompted by the packaging /design /branding, once it is revealed whom made the item, with a strong emphasis on labelling. It surprised me how mis-understood and confused some of the labels were by several Manufacturers but then some of these are NEW and INNOVATIVE and breaking-new-ground.
(Good to know that none of the food is wasted with leftovers /surplus product donated to The Simon Community, a North London homeless charity.)
From my various posts, you’ll know I loved trying, tasting and commenting in the Desserts and Puddings category and even more; Confectionery & Chocolate! I loved the wide selection of entries with many differently flavoured Chocolate bars (some Dairy Free, some Lactose Free and some taste-free)! And the wide variety of products now available for the Coeliac.
Well, I can’t reveal the winners (as they haven’t been announced as yet) and will be shared at the Awards Ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians in London on 26th April 2016 but the shortlisted products have been published (With LINKS to individual producers so you can try them for yourself):
Store Cupboard Free From Food 2016 Shortlisted Products: Sponsored by Genius Gluten Free
Desserts and Puddings Free From Food 2016 Shortlisted Products: Sponsored by Romer Labs UK
And of course (my favourite):
Confectionery and Chocolate Free From Food 2016 Shortlisted Products: Sponsored by Free From Market
For other shortlisted products (including Breakfast Foods, Breads, SuperFoods, Food to go, Down the Pub & Bar et al And further information on the Free From Food Awards, see their website.
After the winners have been announced, I will share further information, noticeable trends and some specific product reviews on some of the award-winning products.
COMING SOON: GLUTEN FREE Chocolate Easter Eggs for 2016/ Travelling GLUTEN FREE @DisneyWorld & @Universal Studios / Travelling GLUTEN FREE on Disney Cruise Line
If you are a member of Coeliac UK, they produce a comprehensive directory which covers over 16,000 food and drink items (including GLUTEN FREE Chocolate Bars). This is available in a paper-based Manual and online FREE to members of Coeliac UK.
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