My samples came in the post accompanied with a lovely little recipe book for meal ideas featuring sausages and some cute little wellies for growing herbs in.
I had spent several emails quizzing the very helpful Jessica at Debbie and Andrew's about the freefrom status of their products. I wanted to know that their products were truly safe for myself and my little boy. I was pleasantly surprised at how thorough and dedicated Jessica was in answering all my questions and queries. I am more than happy that Debbie and Andrew's take every opportunity to ensure their freefrom products are safe and free of cross contamination (see more information at the bottom of this post).
The sausages themselves were very well presented. It was clear from the front of the box that they are dairy free, gluten free and wheat free. The information on the back is also easy to understand and not over complicated or stuffed with obscure ingredients. My only slight concern was an advert for cheese pinwheels on the side of the packet, a detail that may irritate some people craving foods they cannot have. However, the pinwheels could be made with a freefrom cheese.
The sausages cooked easily and evenly in the same way I usually cook them, baked in the oven. They had a nice crispy skin and were juicy and meaty with an even texture throughout. They had a mild onion flavour that was delicate and accepted by my 4 year old. It is a bonus to have more interesting flavours that he will eat to help him progress onto stronger tastes. As they were mild I think they could be easily overpowered by strong flavours elsewhere in a dish or by strong sauces.
I look forward to these new flavour sausages being widely available at the supermarket.
Please read on for the information I was given regarding allergen control.
Me: "Can I ask do you batch test your sausages for gluten parts per million? Do you also test for other allergens such as dairy? What measures do you put in place to ensure these sausages are not cross contaminated by your other products?"
Debbie and Andrews: "The FSA agreed pass mark for labelling a product ''gluten free'' is results below 20ppm. The result of ''<5mg/kg'' is the lowest reading the lab can give us and indicates a pass, this is what we are certified as.
The gluten free products are produced first thing in the morning so all lines have been fully cleaned down. This has been validated. Furthermore we gluten swab all equipment and production lines prior to starting the production run (after the full wash down) to ensure the line is free from gluten. "
"As part of our HACCP, legal and Due Diligence procedures we have carried out a comprehensive Risk Assessment for Allergen Cross Contamination. This considers the different allergens we use on site and reviews the control of validation and testing requirements.We routinely produce products not containing dairy ingredients before we make any products containing dairy products. Should we need to adjust our production schedule we always carry out a full clean down of all equipment, machinery and production areas. These would then be swabbed to positively release the line as being fully clean and free from allergens, including dairy. We carry out a full clean down each day using a dedicated trained team of cleaners. This process is validated by an external chemical supply company to ensure the cleaning is sufficient to prevent allergenic cross contamination. This process is subsequently validated internally to ensure no possible risk of cross contamination. Furthermore we carry out routine testing of finished products to verify the system."
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