January 24, 2018

Exploring Our Food Allergy Policy

The perfectlyfree® brand has a policy that is dedicated to creating shareable treats for families and individuals living with food allergies, and other dietary restrictions. What sets us apart from others can be seen from our consciousness employees, to our dedicated free-from facility, and overall food allergy policy & procedures. We are proud of the steps we take to ensure the safety of those who consumer our products.

Below is a Q&A on the perfectlyfree® food allergen and gluten policies, outlining the incredible lengths we undergo to keep our products safe and delicious.

1. What is the perfectlyfree® allergen policy?

All perfectlyfree® products are free from dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, tree nuts* (except coconut), peanuts, fish, and shellfish. Additionally, all products are free from lactose, and we are certified gluten-free.

2. Generally speaking, what are perfectlyfree® food manufacturing allergen procedures?

Our basic premise is to prevent the Big 8 allergens from entering our food manufacturing facility.  This greatly reduces risks associated with contamination of ingredients or processing equipment.  We perform routine ingredient and final product testing for the accidental or unintentional presence of Big 8 allergens.  We also have an extensive employee training program so that everyone is aware and fully committed to our allergen-free promise.

3. Tell us more about the perfectlyfree® dedicated manufacturing line and Big 8 allergens (dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, tree nuts* (except coconut), peanuts, fish, and shellfish)? Did you build it from the ground up? We want to know everything!

At the beginning of 2016, we moved into a completely empty facility and converted it into a dedicated “free-from” food manufacturing facility.  We built and commissioned the free-from manufacturing line to produce our frozen bites, and had a fully functioning manufacturing operation by the end of the year. Our proprietary process for creating our perfectlyfree® frozen bites includes some traditional ice cream making equipment, some other food processing equipment used with our proprietary techniques, and some equipment that our engineers designed themselves.

4. Tell us more about your manufacturing process and quality control. Are your raw ingredients and end products routinely tested for the Big 8 allergens? If yes, which allergens, and how often are they tested? How do you ensure that your source ingredients/raw ingredients are Big 8 allergen friendly?

Early in product development, and long before our products are manufactured for sale, our team evaluates all potential raw ingredients to determine any allergen risks.  We consider every step of the ingredient manufacturing process including the source, processing and transport of the material.  We collect product specifications and allergen statements, in addition to other required documents such as supplier’s third-party audits and Food Safety Certifications. Following our ingredient analysis, and based on the potential for allergen inclusions, ingredients are put into a risk category and then subjected to an Allergen Testing Program. Samples are sent to a certified third-party analytics provider, who tests for all of the Big 8 allergens.  Testing frequency is based on potential for allergen presence, annual delivery and usage amount.

5. Do you have allergen policies for your employees entering your facility? If yes, tell us more!

Incredible Foods, the parent company of perfectlyfree®, has an extensive food safety training program for employees.  In addition to the full and documented training program that covers all elements of food safety, we emphasize the importance of our “allergy friendly” promise through awareness training of the Big 8 allergens. As a certified gluten-free facility we also provide gluten awareness training for every employee.  Our free-from manufacturing facility is secured, preventing any non-employee from entering the manufacturing floor, storage, or loading docks.  We have very specific traffic patterns in our facility to minimize any contamination brought in from the outside, and provide a segregated area for personal storage.  We have protective gowns that are required to be worn inside the manufacturing facility, and even have a policy that gowns, work boots and shoe coverings used on the production floor can’t be worn outside the building.

6. Let’s talk about coconut. According to the FDA, coconut is considered a tree nut, even though it is botanically a fruit. Talk to us about the perfectlyfree® decision to create a coconut-based product and call it Big 8 allergen friendly?

Although coconut is considered a tree nut by the FDA, coconut is a fruit (specifically, it is a “drupe,” like olives, peaches and mangoes) and most often does not cause the same immune response as tree nuts in people with tree nut sensitivities or allergies. The majority of people with a demonstrated tree nut allergy simply aren’t likely to have an adverse reaction to coconut1. (However, please check with your board certified medical health provider about your specific needs and your specific needs and diagnosis.) There is a substantial body of scientific literature supporting this distinction, which is why Canada and the European Union also do not consider coconut to be a tree nut allergen.

Coconut cream, the basis for many of our desserts, is a great non-dairy alternative. This is because of its rich, creamy texture and health benefits provided by natural and healthy proteins, medium chain triglycerides, antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds. While our overall commitment is to provide healthy, allergen-friendly food that is safe for families and friends to enjoy together, and our goal is to be free from all Big 8 allergens. This is why we clearly state that some of our products, like our non-dairy frozen treats, contain coconut cream.

7. Natural flavors: what are those and how do you ensure those flavors are Big 8 allergen free?

Natural flavors are the naturally occurring flavor compounds found in foods that have been extracted and concentrated.  In this case, the “natural” designation typically means the starting material is plant-based and the “flavor compounds” are then derived from this starting material. We work closely with established flavor houses who are all well-versed in allergen classifications and requirements, and they only supply us with flavors that are free from the Big 8, as verified by documentation from the supplier.

8. What does being “Circle K certified” mean when it comes to Kosher?

Circle K certified” means that our food manufacturing process complies with Hebrew dietary laws as being Kosher. Our Kosher certification is verified by a third-party Kosher food authority to which we provide complete documentation that all of our ingredients are Kosher. We also have a routine visit from a rabbi who visually inspects our manufacturing process.

9. How do you get “cream” flavors without cow dairy?

We don’t use a dairy-based “cream” in any of our products. We get the rich, creamy taste and mouthfeel from a combination of elements present in coconut cream – the natural fats, sugars, and proteins that are different from what is found in dairy but give a sensory experience similar to dairy-based cream. The natural flavors we use come from plant sources and are verified Big 8 allergen free.

10. What else might you be cooking up in the future perfectlyfree® facility?

We are very excited about our next product: perfectlyfree® fruit bites. These are sphere shaped bites of real fruit puree, wrapped in a thin fiber-based coating, just like a grape. They will be refrigerated next to the pre-cut fruit in your local grocery store, and will have a longer shelf-life than regular fruit. They will be prepared and proportioned to conveniently throw into your kids’ lunch boxes! The perfectlyfree® fruit bites contain balanced fibers, vitamins and phytonutrients, and are a far healthier version of traditional gummies. Most importantly, fruit bites are completely plant-based and free of any Big 8 allergens.

11. Anything else perfectlyfree® customers should know about the company’s commitment to allergen policies and procedures?

We are free from many other allergens besides the Big 8. If you have any other allergens you are concerned about, send us a note, and we can confirm if we do not use that ingredient!

Overall, delicious treats and inclusive snacking within our food allergy policy is what drives us. We look forward to continuing to create new, fun and tasty options that are Big 8 allergen friendly!

Cited Resources

  • 1Stutius LM, Sheehan WJ, Rangsithienchai P, et al. Characterizing the relationship between sesame, coconut, and nut allergy in children. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2010;21:1114-1118.

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