Saturday, 15 October 2016

No Nuts Please, We're Allergic! Nut-Safe, Dairy-Free Chocolate Suppliers (Plamil and Kinnerton)

Good morning my freaky little furbies,

Today I want to talk about something that is a lot more common than I was ever aware of yet there is little definitive advice on line.

Chocolate that is not only nut-free-allergy-friendly but is also dairy free.

To give a little bit of history, a very young member of my family has, unfortunately, quite a few food allergies and although dairy causes severe symptoms that are uncomfortable and unpleasant, it's a severe nut allergy that scares us all and has caused at least two major incidents in her young life so far.

If you're not aware of the seriousness of allergies, please pop over to the Allergy Information section and have a look at some of the potential side effects, treatment and ways to avoid food contamination.

It is really hard, indeed nearly impossible to buy cakes, treats or chocolate for someone with allergies. Large retailers generally have a small selection of items but these seem to be either gluten-free, low sugar, or nut free but sadly there isn't a section for those who suffer from multiple allergies.

Every birthday or holiday season I felt that I was giving chocolate laden treats to other kids in the family but only safe jelly-based sweets to this little one and that felt a bit rubbish especially given our love of decadent rich puddings and desserts.  So I decided ENOUGH, this isn't right, I'm going to have a go at making everything that we eat safe for my niece to eat.  But that involved some serious research and planning.

Egg alternatives - check - I wasn't worried about that aspect because I had found natural substitutes that were easy to come by and so much healthier than the artificial packaged stuff available in-store.

Chocolate - oh dear, finding a brand that was nut-safe and dairy-free was a royal pain in the butt.  I went into all the local supermarkets (the well known large retailers that you assume will have everything) but only one of them said that they did indeed stock a variety but they had sold out.

I Googled the subject and I found, in the UK anyway, that there are two companies that make nut-safe, dairy free varieties of chocolate and these are Kinnerton UK and Plamil Foods.

Plamil Foods is an online company but they do take telephone orders if you don't feel comfortable making an online payment.

 I should state that I am not endorsed in any way by either of these companies but I have baked with products from both company and I have to say, I prefer Plamil.  It is more expensive and yes it is only available direct from their company, but I genuinely think that the quality and flavour is better.

I've used their products many times and they don't provide just chocolate but a whole variety of allergy-friendly foods for the whole family.  I really like their chocolate.

I also love their holiday-related items (such as advent calendars, Easter Eggs) are brilliant.  I do, however feel that their postage and packaging price is a bit unrealistic and too high (even if you buy one bar of chocolate they charge over four pounds p&p!!!) but if you are buying items in bulk (which I would recommend) then this at least justifies the standard delivery charge.

Kinnerton, on the other hand, are completely nut-safe but not all products are dairy free.  The "Just Chocolate" 85g bar (price per bar is roughly £1.50 - £1.89) depending on stockist is a lot cheaper than it's Plamil rival (which range from £1.35 for a 45g "snack size" to £3.35 for a 150g bar) and is available in most of the large supermarkets, however stocking of the product seems to be an issue.  I have spoken to Kinnerton about this and was advised that this item is only made about three times a year as their factory, albeit nut-safe all year round, does make other products that are not allergy friendly (i.e. involving dairy and gluten).  I spoke to Morrisons about their stocking levels and they advised that they don't purchase particularly high volumes of the product and when it sells out, it sells out until the next order is placed.  I am assuming that their stock control is therefore in keeping with the Kinnerton production run of the product.

The problem, I've found, is that when one retailer runs out of Kinnerton, they all run out.  In April 2016, I tried to purchase Kinnerton chocolate to make a big batch of nut-safe vegan death-by-chocolate brownies (recipe to follow, I promise!) but could I find any anywhere?  Nope, not in the large supermarkets, not in the health food shops and not even online.  Even Amazon had sold out!  Why?  Because it wasn't time for their production run!  At Easter?  Really Kinnerton?

I like Plamil products, I really do, but the price is just a bit silly and turns what I think should be a more readily available product into a "luxury" once-every-so-often affair, which really isn't fair on people with allergies at all.

I get quite annoyed about this level of price and availability unfairness and I decided to dig a bit deeper and find another alternative.  Now as far as I am aware there isn't another producer of the product but there is a price alternative!

I love a good bargain and I have to say once I found this website, I was so happy.  Love Health Hate Waste is an amazing website that offers food, drink and other household items at greatly reduced prices.  The premise of the site is to "save up to 90% off recommended retail prices due to products being slightly past their best-before date or have lightly damaged packaging".  Before you get all panicky about the best-before date issue, please check out their Frequently Asked Questions Link to learn more about the facts behind food dates.

Back in April when I had very little pennies and I couldn't get Kinnerton, I couldn't really afford Plamil so when I found this website selling Plamil 150g bars at 10p each (yes you read that right, 10p each!) I was cartwheels.  I bought 10 bars for a quid!! There was absolutely nothing wrong with it either.  Every single bar was as perfect as it would have been on the day of production.  The postage and packaging for the Love Health Hate Waste is a bit steep ( I think it's about £6) but if you're going to buy lots of items in bulk then the massive savings outweigh the standard carriage costs.  I spent a grand total of about £7 on ten bars of Plamil that would normally have cost about £3 each plus a fiver in postage and packaging (3 x 10 + 5 = £35).  So I made a £28 saving on purchasing the item through Love Health Hate Waste.

Please don't be put off by best before dates and get onto the website and see what allergy-friendly products you can treat yourself to at a fraction of the usual supermarket/online price.

Well guys there we have it.  In summary there are two nut-safe, dairy free chocolate manufacturers. Both are expensive and one is a bit harder to come by in the shops but both are good.  Hopefully this will make your chocolate-buying a bit easier and your baking a bit easier.

Any comments or queries just contact me below.

Until the next time peeps, hugs!




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