Best Practice Guidance 2014
Below we have brought together a selection of the judges' comments on this year's winners and highly commended entries in each category to act as 'best practice guidance' for other aspiring 'freefrom' eateries.
We hope you find it useful!
The Alford Arms, Winner of the Pub restaurants category and over all winner.
'I'm really impressed. Great procedures and I love they don't want to make a big deal of the person dining with allergies. I always enjoy dining out more at places who take gluten / nut free for me completely in their stride.'
'It's good to see that they ensure their staff have training, show the Top14 allergens and have good processes and procedures in place. They realise that communication is key and optimise this to the full.'
'Great that they don't allow substitutions or changes without hierarchy agreeing it and that allergen information is understood well.'
'Hugely impressed with the level of attention to detail (eg high powered dishwasher) and procedures.'
'I like that when the chef is creating the new menu he takes dietary requirements into account so that customers don't have to order allergen free dishes that are going to make them stand out from their non-allergic friends. The examples of gluten free and dairy free dishes that they've given both sound great too!'
'I like the fact that they have pre-shift meetings to discuss allergen changes.'
'They have put in place so many excellent procedures in place to ensure that the customer receives a safe meal from entering/booking right through to receiving the dish. They are making such an effort that so many aren't doing.'
The Peacock at Oxhill, Highly Commended in the Pub restaurant category
'Really thorough processes. Impressed with their focus on cooking from scratch using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Using a disposable apron over their regular aprons is a step above.'
'Excellent, they use the purple allergen boards - this is a colour which is new to food service and isn't used in any other way. It's great that they have plenty of positive processes in place and are able to ensure their allergen information provided by suppliers is accurate. It is really good that they would prefer to take an item off the menu rather than subsitute an ingredient.'
'Wow, love the emphasis on cooking from scratch and reducing rather than thickening and only using cornflour and egg free batter??? Give them a gong! '
'Brilliant. It's the little touches like actually offering oil and balsamic to those who can't have butter. I always ASK but can honestly count on one finger the times I've actually been OFFERED this without having to ask.'
Tea 42, Manchester - Winner of the Cafés, coffee houses and teashops category
'Very impressive. Seems to show good understanding of the needs of allergic/intolerant diners and has good training programme in place to support this. I like the fact that all staff are trained to the same level.'
'I like the fact that it's all gf with a separate area for
'The summary of ingredients at the bottom of every menu suggests that they are highlighting all of the 14 allergens. Use of Electronic Point Of Sale is commendable and professional.'
'I did not make this easy for them, no wheat, rice, potatoes dairy etc. They were more than accommodating and because everything is cooked baked on site they had a impressive knowledge of all ingredients in the dishes and able to alter the dishes to suit me.'
'The overall the quality was very high …The desserts and cakes were the highlight though …I would challenge anyone to even guess they were gluten free …the dairy & gluten free cake I had was exceptional.'
Love in a Cup, Somerset - Highly Commended in the Café category
'Training all staff and having an all gluten free policy is great too. Very good managment of gluten free activities. Keeping records of recipes and amendments excellent! Really like the reference to children's needs.'
'The food is fresh, healthy and made with good quality ingredients. The cakes are delicious, but not over sweet and there is a good selection suitable for children who make up a large number of their visitors. No big deal is made of the fact that this café has a ff status. Any gluten or dairy-intolerant/allergic child is able to sit down and eat any item they choose without being made to feel different.'
Ravenstone Manor, Cumbria - Winner B&Bs & Guest Houses category
'The responses reflect a standard you would expect from a larger establishment catering for more guests. I am pleased to see protocol documents are in place for all staff to access when the owner are away from the premises. There is awareness of food allergies with all staff and some have recognised qualifications.'
'Halleluja! What a fantastic place and look forward to trying it out! The entirely gluten free menu is a great way to go and really makes life easier. All other allergies are also catered for and they seem to be able to produce interesting food that everyone is happy to eat.'
'I have dairy and soya allergies and yes, the chef was clued up on what might contain soya and had examined every possible ingredient in his kitchen. The dairy free chocolate he had been sourcing contained soya lecithin so he said he could not use that and would try to source something suitable or use cocoa powder instead. He even knew the E-number for lecithin and checked whether E332 (might not be this one) was present in case this was the E-number for soya lecithin/oil.'
'Very attentive and well educated staff. Everyone has been really friendly, always welcome you and always stop for a chat. Always smiling and happy. A sign of a good manager. We would definitely come here again and again and again. I have never ever felt like I was being a pain.'
The Belfry at Yarcombe, Devon - Highly commended in B&B & Guest house category.
'The responses show a knowlege for food allegries and I like the fact cocktails sticks are used to mark the food, a simple, but effective approach to avoid meals getting mixed up. They have taken it upon themselves to expand their catering knowlege by enrolling on a training course.'
'The recording of the guest food two weeks after departure is a good thing as this allows for anyone made ill to pin point where and what might have made the so.'
Oscar & Bentley's, Canterbury - Winner of the Restaurant category
'It's good that they have regular contact with their suppliers in order to control the products that they receive. Control of allergens in lidded labelled containers is good too.'
'Beer battered fish & chips? Onion rings?
'I like the fact that they don't deviate from their menu as it means that all the chefs are consistent with ingredients. It's also good that they offer options for other allergy customers.'
'Impressive. Marked up because they have been able to influence one of their suppliers to reorganise its warehouse to avoid cross contamination, possibly assisting other restaurants who purchase from that supplier's warehouse.'
'They have got it sussed. They know exactly what they need to do to provide a safe meal for their customers. Continuous training, regular communication and even though they say they don't have a way of communicating what diners ate, the fact that this is available electronically via their till is just exactly what they need.'
2 Oxford Place, Leeds - Highly Commended in the Restaurant category
'They've taken typically gluten containing dishes that people who can't tolerate gluten could not normally dream of ordering in a restaurant and made them gluten free. Fab!'
'The separate screens on the till are an excellent idea, as is labelling the food with cocktail sticks.'
Pizza Express - Winner of the Restaurant chain category
'I might be slightly biased as I've had so many positive experiences at Pizza Express despite my extensive food allergies but it really does seem like they are knowledgeable about food allergies and are passionate about ensuring that people with allergies can enjoy their experience.'
'Being a large chain, they know that they can control their supply chain well which keeps mistakes down to a minimum. They also have strict processes in place to ensure control on cross contamination which is great.'
'They don't deviate from their menu at all and we know that they have allergen matrixes for their dishes but they need to make sure they highlight the other 13 allergens to their staff so that they are aware of more than just gluten. Other than that they have robust processes in place which they stick to as do a number of other large chains.'
HC3S (Hampshire County Council Catering Service) - Joint Winner of the Schools, colleges and universities category
'A very good system in place. I was very impressed with the way they control their suppliers and the fact that cooks can't just go ordering food from suppliers willy nilly due to the controls in place.'
'Product labelling and supplier due dilligence is very effective here.'
'Excellent controls, a very good system. The fact that they serve dishes which are inclusive for all kids – gluten, dairy, egg and nut free – in so many cases is very impressive!'
Helenswood Academy - Joint Winner of the Schools, colleges and universities category
'Following a clear procedure on allergens and training combines to make a safe and effective operation.'
'Obviously passionate about the students and protecting allergic children. The operator has established systems and procedures to protect themselves and provide a safe to eat and drink experience for all its customers.'
'An excellent example of an operator that does exercise flexibility with its menus and is able to instruct FOC staff of changes. Generic examples of exciting dishes.'
'Using basic recipes which can be altered at the discretion of the chef seems like it is being managed very well and they know how to prevent any issues or pitfalls.'
Individual Category Winners:
If you have any queries or would like to talk to us about the awards - please email