Has anyone done this?
I'm working towards getting my commercial kitchen done, and wondering if it would be good for business to make it a nut-free facility. The main issue I can see here is a liability one if I inadvertently use an ingredient which has a trace of nut. I was thinking I could cover that by putting in a disclaimer that I cannot be responsible for a trace of an allergen making its way into a product, but that no nuts or nut products will be used in the kitchen. I think for most allergy sufferers that would be good enough. Do you agree?
I am moving towards completely scratch baking, so that would rule out things like problems with box mixes, but what about things like ready-made fondant etc. I guess I would contact the manufacturer of each product and ask them what their process is and whether there is any possibility of contamination...
Any thoughts would be welcome.
I never began using nuts in my products so it hasn't been an issue and no one has complained. I'm allergic so it was fairly easy.
I'm doing research this month on allergies, vegan baking, corn-free, etc., and I think that the best you can do is to tell people that you don't use whatever ingredient it is, but you can't guarantee that there wouldn't be traces of it in your raw ingredients. I think that most people with sensitivities and allergies are going to be very careful to ask, so as long as you let them know that you're not using anything that you're aware of that could be dangerous to them, you just have to let them make the decision.
Remember that if you're advertising that you're baking nut-free your entire house should be nut-free, not just your baking. Even a tiny trace of peanuts can cause bad reactions in someone who's really allergic, and it can be life-threatening. I tell people that I'll bake nut free, but that I do use nuts and peanuts in my own family's foods, so they have to make the decision based on the severity of their own allergies.
Something else I do is let people tell me if there are specific brands of ingredients that they know won't affect them, and I'll use those if I can. Depending on the ingredient, there can be traces of things in foods that aren't required to be listed on the ingredients list, and a lot of chemical binders and preservatives are made from soy or corn but you wouldn't recognize it from the names. I just printed out a 4-page list of ingredients that can be derived from corn so that I can go to the store and see if I can even find things that don't have that in them. Nuts probably aren't used as widely becasue there's a lot more attention paid to them as an allergen, but my point is that you have to be careful, especially if someone is deathly allergic. I'd just give the customer the information and let them make their own decision.
I just saw that you're going to be in a commercial kitchen, not a home kitchen...It's too early and not enough caffeine yet! That's a lot easier as far as keeping nuts out (ingredients, not customers )
I was going to suggest that you do a google search for nut allergy websites. I found a gluten-free one and one for corn allergies, and they usually have forums where you can post questions. Maybe you could post asking how they would prefer you handled it, then you'd be able to get some feedback from people who'd be your potential clients. It might help you figure out how you want to market your shop.
Well it will be a commercial kitchen in my basement, which I am thinking of never allowing a nut to set foot in.
My train of thought here is: if a person works in a nut-free facility, are they required to never have nuts at their own home? What if they have peanut butter for breakfast, put on an apron and wash their hands, brush their teeth etc, then go to work. How is that different to me getting ready and entering MY place of work, which happens to be in my home?
Your comments are very helpful, though, and I think I definitely need to do some more research.
The thing is, people with allergies have a really hard time of it, and I suppose that there is ALWAYS the risk that something might contain a trace - how do you ever guarantee 100%? Even the granola bars or Smarties which claim to be nut-free are only made in a facility which doesn't process nuts, same as I'm proposing. Perhaps I'll check out their wording and go from there.
I still think nut-free could be a great Unique Selling Point. I'll let you know what I find out.
Thanks for your help!
I to am nut free, because my son is SEVERLY allergic to nuts. We do not allow nuts in our home, but I've been a little reluctant to advertise as being nut free. I too worry about traces, though I read labels. One nut that my son is allergic to that is nto req to be on the list as an allergen yet is Coconut...supposedly it's a fruit, but it's in the nut category and my son is allergic to it! Go figure. I never realized how many things have coconut or coconut oil in them (like cereal, hot chocolate!). I wonder if it would be better to advertise the ability to cater to allergies, and then you could sanitize and make sure that none of the allergens are present? I have recipes for gluten free goods as well! I also liked the suggestion of asking the customer what works good for them.. Good luck!
Honestly! I really do think that these types of specialty 'shops' are becoming very popular. A lot of people are starting to get more and more consious of what they consume for many and various reasons. It would be nice if you could earn your mark on that market very early. Therefore you will be very much established by the time it becomes more popular. I too am going back to school to study Nutrition. I think that when you can set yourself apart from the rest offering a unique service it is great.
So, I would say read up on it, study it. Look at the pros and cons. Consider expense and profit. You know these important details and just make sure that it is something you really want to do. I am sure it will work. One advice - register your business as LLC, just IN CASE.
I am sure you will be fine. All the best.
I went to the Whole Foods that just opened here today, and did a lot of label-reading. Good Lord it's complicated!
I want to start pushing the allergy angle too, in that I can accomodate a lot of different diets because I bake from scratch. I think that the best thing is to tell people that you do everything as nut-free as you can to the best of your knowledge, and that if they want to know what brands of ingredients you use you'll tell them. I'm not going to give out my recipes, but I'll tell people what the specific brands are. That way if they know they have a reaction from something specific they can tell me in advance.
That sounds like a good idea. I can see it's impossible to 100% guarantee nut-free (or any other ingredient), but if your processes and ingredient list are transparent, the trust can be built.
I definitely want to pursue this - I think that making a niche in the market is a way to compete with the big-boys. I've already started some research and will share when it comes together...
I just wanted to point out (because so many folks don't realize it), that peanuts aren't nuts! They're legumes. So, you can have a peanut allergy and be able to eat tree nuts. You can be allergic to tree nuts (which I am) but eat peanuts (which I do!). Peanut and tree nut allergies aren't the same thing, although a lot of folks who are allergic to one avoid the other.
So, if you're going tree nut free, you might also want to be peanut free! You could serve more folks with allergies that way.
Excellent point Jodie. I actually know people with allergies in both directions!
To be more exact then, I was thinking of doing nut- and peanut-free, with the understanding that none of these will be allowed in the kitchen, plus adding the option of other allergies with the understanding that the kitchen WILL also process eggs, flour, milk etc.
Would that be clear enough? (Assuming it is possible... just looked on my can of Fry's cocoa - 'may contain nuts...')
I went and looked at the website for the bakery posted in this thread. She posts links to the companies where she buys her ingredients. She gets her chocolate products from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. You might want to start doing some research about companies like that. I'm sure it'll be more expensive, but I'm sure your patrons would be happy to absorb the cost to insure all your ingredients are truly nut and peanut free.
Edited to add the link to their baking ingredients:
Oh...btw....I LOVE Eddie Izzard!
My kitchen is a peanut & tree nut free place. I have allergies to just about every "nut" there is out there. If you go to Whole Foods, Sprouts or some other health food store, you will find items that are "certified" nut free and gluten free. I have a friend who cannot have gluten, but I make her gluten free cakes and she loves them.
Now, I've made cakes with pecans, walnuts and peanuts, but I have to wear gloves, a mask and I have to be fully clothed. Afterwards, I have to sterilize everything. I very rarely make these kinds of cakes, so I don't mind doing it.