A few weeks ago, I asked my Twitter followers which free-from products should exist — but as yet don’t.
In other words, which impossible-to-find free-from products would they like to see on the market?
I promised to find a way to circulate the resulting responses to brands, which I still intend to do, possibly with the help of Michelle and Cressida at the Free From Food Awards, but meanwhile, here are the best or more popular suggestions — in no particular order.
Feel free to add others in comments, but remember that this is more about products which aren’t yet available, at least not in the UK, and less about product types of which you’d like more examples or greater choice …
Gluten Free Tinned Spaghetti
The request which kicked the whole thing off. GF or otherwise allergy friendly tinned ravioli too. Orgran used to produce one which ticked multiple free from boxes, but sadly it has been discontinued.
Gluten Free Quorn products
More foods which meet both vegan and GF requirements are a popular request. Are manufacturers listening?
Croissants / Sweet Bakery
These came up under various guises — as GF almond croissants, GF and DF and nut-safe croissants, or just a simply good GF croissant. Tesco offers them, but it seems to be all we have … Into this category should also fall pastries (eg apple and apricot) — widely missed by many with food restrictions — and pains au (dairy free / nut safe?) chocolat and brioches.
Gluten Free ‘Cheddars’
Savoury biscuits which are GF … but also why not some cheesy ones which are DF?
Milk Free / Vegan ‘Stilton’
A call from Cressida. What other cheesy ‘flavours’ are missing in vegan / dairy free form?
“14 Free” and Legume Free snacks
Most crisps and snacks free of the 14 allergens are based on pea, chickpea and lentil — both an increasing problem for many with allergies to non-14 foods — and many which aren’t have ‘may contain’ warnings for other allergens. Some allergy safe rice, corn and potato snacks, needed, then?
Nut-free fruit yogurt
A long-standing problem. So many (milk) yogurts with added fruit or flavour carry ‘may contain’ warnings for tree nuts.
Gluten / Dairy Free Chocolate Biscuits
Can’t really argue with this one …
Tree-nut, peanut, sesame-free sunflower and pumpkin seeds — and seed butters
Another long-standing problem …. allergy-safe seeds without PAL warnings. Gerbs Seeds in the US seem to be the only option for UK consumers. With regard to seed butters or other nut butters, we certainly need some which would be safe were it not for the dreaded may contain striking again ….
GF Malt Loaf
That is, a version of Soreen suitable for those on restricted diets. Yum …
A few requests for this. M&S used to do one … But no longer.
Allergy Safe Breadsticks
Or grissini, as this Italian knows them. An issue I wasn’t aware of, but many come with ‘may contain’ warnings. Schar do these GF versions which seem safe, but not everyone needs gluten free, and wheat-containing but otherwise allergy-friendly baked goods are a not often considered problem for those with multiple allergies that do not include wheat or other cereals.
Free From Waffles
Outside my area of familiarity. Anybody?
GF Noodle Pots and Packet Soups
The first is another common request (Itsu do some Satay Instant Noodles; also Tesco have Curry Noodles and Chicken & Mushroom). May contain warnings are the issue with the second.
Allergy Friendly AND Fortified Free From Yogurts / Milks / Cheeses
Another long-standing problem. I addressed the milk alternative issue in a previous post. Koko do some coconut-based fortified products, and Little Bandits offer some yogurts, but pickings are slim for allergy parents looking to get key nutrients into their restricted-diet kids.
Stodgy Savoury Dumplings
This was one I’d never even considered! For use in a stew or casserole, asked Joanna. There was a good suggestion to try Difatti gnocchi, which certainly is an idea, although clearly not quite the same.
GF Black Forest Gateau
Recipes abound online, but no ready-made option yet available …
Any more requests? Particularly keen to hear allergen-related requirements, as people with food allergies, especially children, are far worse catered for than those with coeliac disease.
As someone who doesn’t tolerate oats (even GF ones) I’d like to see more GF produce that doesn’t rely on oats (such as really important foodstuffs like biscuits ). All the really nice biscuits contain oats! (Thank heavens for Schlar’s custard creams ).
Have you tried the Freee? https://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/products/freee/cookies
I agree entirely, So few of the GF biscuits are oat free. Also check ready meals that are now labelled GF and vegan. Oats in so many items. Couldn’t work out what was making me ill at first, now I check and read all labelling for oats
I am sure there are lots like me that are sick of being offered – Jacket potatoes, and GF chocolate brownies every where we go !
I came across a tweet linking to this blog from an account that i follow on Twitter so i thought i would comment here about what i would personally like to see.
What i would love to see is much more Nightshade Free products. So things that free from the entire Nightshade family (also known as the Solanaceae family) which is stuff such as, Potato, Aubergine, Peppers, Chillies, Goji Berry, Physalis, Tomatillo, and a couple other rarer fruits and vegetables too (not Sweet Potato or Peppercorns like Black Pepper or White Pepper though). As someone who has a serious (anaphylaxis) allergy to this entire family i would very much appreciate this. Nightshades seem to find their way (often unnecessarily) in to so many products these days. You would be surprised what products contain them.
In particular i would really like to see some more things such as these which would really be so convenient to have:
• Nightshade Free Baked Beans
• Nightshade Free Brown Sauce
• Nightshade Free Curry Sauce
• Nightshade Free Tomato Ketchup
• Nightshade Free Tomato Sauce
• Nightshade Free Worcestershire Sauce
Also some more Nightshade Free ready meals would be nice (there are a few but they are very rare) but perhaps i am wishing for too much there. I can not really see that happening. I regularly make Nightshade Free versions of all sorts of things all from scratch but having some easy ready made options would be nice.
There is two companies (Foraging Fox and Sauce Shop) who do both produce Nightshade Free Beetroot Ketchup products which are great. But there is not so much other than that. Over in the USA there is three companies that i know of (one is “K C Naturals” i think) who are dedicated to producing Nightshade Free products. But here in the UK we do not have any companies like this.
There is also one company (Tom Kerridge) who actually make a Nightshade Free Brown Sauce and i think they are the only one that does. It is a shame as Brown Sauce is my favourite condiment and traditionally it was made Nightshade Free being made from Apples and Dates but these days almost every company also adds Tomatoes to make it cheaper. Some also add Cayenne or Paprika to save money on the more expensive traditional spices.
I think this allergy is more common than people actually realise. Through looking online and reading blogs i have heard about at least four or five other people who have a serious (anaphylaxis) allergy to all the Nightshades like myself. In addition to this i have read about hundreds of people who have intolerances and sensitivities to them as well. If you look online there are so many people who avoid the Nightshade family for various reasons. I think it is probably a more common allergy than what people realise. Although of course such products are not going to be in as much demand as Dairy Free and Gluten Free and Soya Free ones (but Nightshade Free products are probably in greater demand than Celery Free or Mustard Free in my view) but still i think there is enough demand for some.
So that is what i would personally like to see a lot more of.
Thanks Brian, for this extensive comment detailing the practical issues of nightshade sensitivities of all types.
I will speak to my colleagues on the Free From Food Awards with a view to perhaps incorporating nightshades into a category in some way. I know they have considered it before, but were uncertain there would be sufficient interest.
Have you been definitely diagnosed with IgE allergies to all nightshades, or just some – and you avoid others as a precaution? Not to question you, but it is unusual to react to every member of a family eg. those with legume allergies can usually tolerate green beans, and those with tree nut allergies can usually tolerate some in the family. Just curious.
Foraging Fox are a very allergy friendly brand — I think they avoid all 14 of the declarable allergens as well as tomato.
I know chilli often ‘hides’ in ‘spice mix’ and other such generic terms, which is never helpful.
I will make a note to write about this issue in future.
Thanks again, Alex.
Thank you for your reply. That is much appreciated. That would be great if there was more awareness of this. Yes it is definitely an IGE allergy to the whole entire family and i react very seriously (anaphylaxis) to them all so i am not just avoiding any to be safe as i am certain that it is anything in the entire family.
Also i know for 100% certain that i react very seriously (anaphylaxis) to all, Potato, Aubergine, Tomato, Sweet Bell Pepper, Hot Chilli Pepper, Tomatillo, Physalis, Goji Berry, as each and every one of these has given me an anaphylaxis reaction in the past so for that reason i am 100% sure about this. I have gotten a full anaphylaxis reaction from each and every one of those. There are some rarer Nightshade family Fruits and Vegetables that are really only eaten in parts of Asia and South America which i have never tried (as they are non existent in the UK) but considering i react to everything else i would say it is safe to say that it is the entire Nightshade family i am allergic to and i am positive i would react seriously to these too.
I have been to hospital in ambulances multiple times as a result of this allergy. Especially in the past before i had a full idea of everything i was allergic to. Obviously now i am extremely careful so it happens less but i still have to carry an epi pen and be extra careful as even traces (like someone cooking Nightshades in the same pan and not cleaning it) can bring on a reaction (i have even been to hospital in the past as a result of getting a reaction from someone not cleaning a pan after cooking Nightshades in it). In addition i have to try to stay away from people smoking cigarettes (as Tobacco is a Nightshade too) as i can feel my throat starting to tighten up when i am around cigarette smoke.
In addition to this yes i can confirm i have been officially diagnosed with IGE allergies to all Nightshades. I have seen multiple doctors and allergy specialists and gone through multiple tests over the years and yes they all confirm i do indeed have an allergy to the Nightshade family. It is indeed IGE allergies to the entire family of Nightshades. I can safely say it is the entire Nightshade family of plants i am allergic to and i get the same exact reaction from all of them. I am not just avoiding some to be safe. So to answer your question yes i have been diagnosed with IGE allergies to all of the Nightshades.
That is a interesting point you make though about most people not being allergic to an entire family. As you say the Fabaceae family seems to cause lots of allergies but it is normally just to one or a few rather than to the entire family. I did always wonder why they choose Celery and not the entire Apiaceae family and then why they choose Mustard and not the entire Brassicaceae family so then maybe allergies to an entire family are rare. But saying that i do know of someone who is allergic to the entire Anacardiaceae family and gets reactions from, Cashew, Mango, Pink Peppercorn, Pistachio, Sumac, so perhaps being allergic to an entire family is more common than people think. I guess it varies between people.
Indeed Foraging Fox seem good with allergies. Luckily both Foraging Fox and Sauce Shop were very helpful and confirmed to me in an email what the spices were and they are all suitable. However i wish they would just list the full ingredients on the label. My absolute pet hate is when companies put “Flavouring” and “Spices” and all sorts of vague stuff like that in the ingredients. It is just extremely unhelpful to anyone who has allergies that are not in the top fourteen declarable ones! I wish the FSA would require full ingredients lists on all products and ban things from being hidden under such vague terms!
I have had this Nightshade allergy my entire life since i was a kid. Even now as an adult it has not gone away. So it is something i have to live with which can be hard as the Nightshade family is used in so much stuff. Luckily the Nightshades are my one and only allergy and i have no other allergies or intolerances or problems with any other foods. However i do sometimes think it would be easier to be allergic to all 14 of the declarable allergens than to the Nightshade family! It can be such a difficult allergy to explain to people!
I do sympathise with the lack of transparency of terms like ‘flavouring’ and ‘spice mix’ – I wonder whether it’s because some ingredients lists would simply get too long? I imagine that’s the reason why, but it’s no good for people like you. I’ll definitely look into nightshade allergy at some point, if only to find out what the shared or related IgE protein between them is. I think with mustard, it’s the fact that it’s the seed that is consumed. With other brassicas – cauliflower, cabbage etc – we don’t eat the seed. These are very rare allergens.
Thank you for your further reply. Yes it is an interesting one as it is not in the top 14 there is not really so much awareness of it. That would be interesting to know what the shared or related IGE protein with all the Nightshade family is. I am not really an expert on this but i am just wondering if the whole Nightshade family is very closely related to each other where as some other families like the Fabaceae family may be much more spread out and not share as many similarities. It is interesting how i have an IGE allergy to the entire family and get the same reaction from them all. So there must be a reason.
Yes i did think that “Flavourings” and “Spices” could be used to stop ingredients lists from being too long. But then most of the companies i have contacted only have about four or five ingredients hidden under these terms so it would hardly require any extra space to add these ingredients. In fact some companies i have contacted have had as little as two. I wonder if it could also be to hide their list of ingredients to stop competitors copying them. For an example i know that Coca Cola and Pepsi hide most ingredients that they use under “Flavourings” to keep their ingredients list secret. Also i have had four companies refuse to tell me what their “Flavourings” and “Spices” are in their foods due to this being “Confidential Information” so i think that for some companies this may be the reason why. It is just so unhelpful though when your allergen is not in the top fourteen as these vague terms can mean thousands and thousands of things.
I have always wondered why Celery and Mustard were chosen given the rarity of the allergy. Someone did say to me that they were more common in parts of mainland Europe so that could be why they are included (as all EU/EFTA/EEA countries follow the same allergen laws). You are probably right about the problem with Mustard being the seed. I remember seeing a bottle of Unrefined Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil sold somewhere a while ago that had a warning on it that it may cause an allergic reaction to those with Mustard allergies. So yes it is probably the seed.
Thank you again for your reply. Great blog by the way. I have been having a read through it and you have some interesting articles on here.
Thank you – glad you’ve enjoyed the articles!
This is not really a request for a new product but more a request for something i would like to become available in the UK. Over in Japan there is a company that makes a Soya Free Soya Sauce which tastes 100% identical to any normal Soya Sauce. Everyone else i know who has tried it could not tell the difference. It is made in the same exact traditional way as Soya Sauce except it is made from Broad Beans instead of Soya Beans. It goes through the same exact production and fermentation process used for Soya Sauce. It is an amazing product.
I found it a shop in China Town in London but they have stopped selling it as they shut down about a year ago so the only place you can buy it now is this website:
However they charge £7.63 for one bottle plus £14.73 shipping for just one bottle (and the shipping increases and almost doubles the more bottles that you buy as it is done by weight).
It is the perfect product for those with Soya allergies as there are not really any similar substitutes to Soya Sauce available. I know there are some other alternatives like Coconut Aminos which are good but they are still quite different from Soya Sauce so this is the perfect product for those with Soya allergies. It is very allergen friendly. It is Gluten Free also (although if you are only Gluten Free than you could use Tamari Soya Sauce so it is not really necessary) and of course Dairy Free and Egg Free also.
It would be great if there were any UK manufacturers who would make this or any UK distributors and sellers who would consider importing this and selling this in the UK as i think this could become so popular for anyone with Soya allergies and i know Soya allergies are very common these days. I think that a Soya Free Soya Sauce (especially one like this that tastes 100% identical to the normal one) is something that the Free From market is missing.
What a brilliant product! I will share on social media. Agree it would be a good one to have more widely available. Thanks Richard.
What I find infuriating is all the products that should never have gluten in them in the first place – like pea protein – being labeled “may contain gluten, sesame, nuts, etc”.
Also, the gluten free pasta selection is quite limited – all the same corn, tapioca, rice mixes.
And bread – good quality, Roundup free, pesticide free (Organic) bread. Or even bread mixes. The one I found online were about £8 a pop, reaaaaally expensive. Considering you can get a loaf from M&S for 65p. Choleywood process one, laden with gluten.
I’d like to see more variety in GF pasta too, and ‘may contain’ for naturally GF is very frustrating.
I would like to see more Dairy Free products that are not Vegan and contain meat. Maybe things like meat pies and meat pasties and things like that. There are a few out there but annoyingly the Non Vegan but Dairy Free range still makes up quite a small selection of the Free From ranges. The amount of Vegan foods out there is massive these days but there are many of us who have serious allergies to Dairy but still really enjoy meat.
Another annoying thing is that there are so many Vegan products with “May Contain Dairy” warnings. I know it is because they are made on the same machinery as Dairy containing products so they have to put the warning on their in case cross contamination occurred. But it can get annoying. So just being Vegan does not necessarily mean it is guaranteed safe and contamination free for those of us with more serious Dairy allergies.
The other thing i would like to see is the 100% Rice Flour Pasta to become more widely available.
The 100% Rice Flour pasta tastes pretty much exactly identical to normal Wheat Flour pasta. I can not really tell the difference and most other people who have had it have said the same thing. Where as with the standard Corn Flour and Rice Flour mixture or the 100% Corn Flour pasta these do not taste as good and you can definitely still notice quite a big difference to normal Wheat Flour pasta.
I do not understand why probably 90% of the Gluten Free pasta out there is the Corn and Rice mixture or 100% Corn Flour when the 100% Rice Flour one is so much better and so much closer tasting to ordinary Wheat Flour pasta. When you have such a good Free From item why not make it more widely available.
There are many brands that make these 100% Rice Flour Pasta in all sorts of shapes (eg, Fusilli, Lasagne, Penne, Spaghetti, etc) such as Biona and Doves and Rizopia but they are generally mainly available in Health Food Shops and nowhere near as widely available as the standard Corn Flour and Rice Flour mixture or 100% Corn Flour pasta are. But in Sainsburys and Tesco and Waitrose they do sell some of the 100% Rice Flour pasta in their larger stores now (although strangely all in the normal pasta section instead of the Free From section despite the packaging clearly saying they are Gluten Free and no may contain warnings) so hopefully the 100% Rich Flour pasta will continue to become more widely available in all of our other supermarkets soon.
Finally some more Free From products without Artifical Chemicals and E Numbers would be good. One thing i do find disappointing is a lot of the Free From range is full of so many Artificial Chemicals and E Numbers these days which is a shame. I think because Free From ingredients cost more companies try to save money by using these. But i would certainly pay more if they used better quality more natural ingredients. But on the plus side at least we are nowhere near as bad as the USA in regards to this.