By louharrison, May 13 2017 02:18PM
As the founder of Cocoa Libre, I completely understand the importance of offering a choice of top quality products to our customers regardless of most dietary challenges and lifestyle choices.
From talking to customers and looking at what's out there, it seems nut and peanut free chocolate is one of the trickest free from chocolates to source. At Cocoa Libre we take as many steps as possible to keep our nut free customers safe. Some of those steps include screening any potential suppliers, keeping our ingredients down to a minimum whilst keeping them natural and top quality, having our products tested for allergens and keeping our entire facility completely nut free.
I have personal experience in this field as a close family member has a peanut allergy and has done since he was young. The reaction to peanuts started relatively mild on the rare occasions he accidentally ate products containing peanuts, a slight catch in the throat. Every time he accidentally ate something contaminated with nuts the reaction became more severe. The worst reaction was after eating a caramel filled chocolate which was part of a well know selection box. This did not contain nuts but was made on the same line as chocolate containing nuts. It led to a far more serious reaction. Luckily we kept anti-histamine with him and took it immediately.
He took a trip to the GP and he was referred to the hospital for skin prick tests. Those tests revealed a peanut allergy, as well as a hazlenut allergy. He now keeps an epipen to hand and is far more careful to only consume products which are nut free, not always easy to source but I do believe it's becoming easier with better labelling and more nut free choices.
I can imagine this is a lot more frightening for parents caring for children with nut and peanut allergies, particularly where the child is prone to more life threating reactions.
The idea for Cocoa Libre started when my own child developed a dairy intolerance at 3 years old. It was more of a challenge making meals at home but also eating out, events and days at nursery/school came with a daily reminder from me as well as bringing in 'special products' for them. I wanted to create a range of chocolate as good if not better than what's out there for children and adults, with top quality, natural ingredients, nicely packaged and delicious. With allergy now the most common chronic disease in Europe (EAACI, 2016) I wanted to create chocolate that's not only completely free from dairy and nuts but also gluten and wheat to make it available to as many people as possible who didn't previously have as much choice and the chance to feel fully catered for.
I have seen children at the Allergy Shows we attend sometimes become quite afraid of trying new things. We are always so delighted to be able to offer a safe product to our customers and to say, you CAN have this. This is ultimately our goal, to delight our customers with lovely chocolates whether for children or adults that they can have, and furthermore they taste really good!