Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Monday, June 03, 2013

Pascha Allergen-Free Chocolate: 8 Facts About Pascha Chocolate

Pascha chocolate sent me some samples of their top eight allergen-free chocolate to try. Before I do, I had a chance to ask Courtenay Pascha chocolate some questions about this new chocolate and how they ensure it’s free from the top eight allergens.

These foods - milk, eggs, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans), peanuts, wheat, and soybeans - are identified by the FDA as causing ninety percent of all food allergic reactions in the United States. Remember, that anyone can be allergic to anything at any time, so please contact Pascha chocolate directly about your food allergy needs.


***

1. What’s the history behind why Pascha chocolate was created?

PASCHA was created to make ultra-pure delicious chocolate that is safe for anyone to eat.  It was not until Simon Lester, one of the founders, realised how life threatening and altering food allergies can be, when one of his daughters had an anaphylactic reaction to food, that the penny dropped that someone really needed to come out with a completely allergen-free great-tasting chocolate.  Simon's background was in the chocolate business in the UK and while most people don't think of chocolate and allergies, the reality is that almost every chocolate plant in the western world uses milk, various tree nuts, peanuts, soy and often wheat, gluten and egg.  Because of the difficulties of cleaning a chocolate manufacturing plant once these ingredients are inside the plant a residual amount is left behind - which is the danger point for people with food allergies.


2. Where and how is PASCHA chocolate made?

PASCHA is made in Latin America, close to the source of the bean.  One of the things we had to do was be very sure of where the ingredients were sourced from and how they had traveled, to avoid risk of cross contamination - eg from storing cocoa beans in warehouses as they journey across the world. By going to where the cocoa beans are grown and making the chocolate there we can gain much more visibility and control over the ingredients going into PASCHA.


3. PASCHA chocolate has very few ingredients. We love that! One of them is chocolate "mass". What is that?

In making chocolate from beans you take the shells off the bean and grind them up (to create nibs).  When you heat these nibs and grind them you get a viscous mass that is unsweetened molten cocoa bean.  We call this cocoa liquor.  Cocoa mass is another word for cocoa liquor, but the liquor can be cooled and forms solid chunks - hence cocoa mass.  We refer to it as cocoa mass but in fact it is in liquid form when it moves into our chocolate making process. 


4. You state that the product is top 8 free but only mention 6 allergens on the labels  (“gluten” is not an allergen)?

The 7th and 8th allergens which PASCHA is free from are fish and shellfish. We did not include fish and shellfish on the website or label due to some feedback from consumers regarding their perception of fish and shellfish in chocolate. I agree it is confusing and we will revise our statement. Thank you for the feedback.



5. What steps are used to ensure the product is free from all top eight allergens?

First of all the entire plant has to be completely allergen-free - so no operation there must ever use one of the top 8 allergens.  Beyond that we have to ensure that the people who work in the plant do not bring anything allergenic to the plant - so they wear uniforms that provided for them and which can be checked for allergens.  Next we have to make sure that the ingredients coming in are also allergen-free.  In our case we make the chocolate from cocoa bean to bar in the same factory, and we know where the beans are coming from and how they have been transported.  That just leaves the sugar and vanilla and any of our added ingredients like goldenberries which again are from specific known local sources and are checked for allergens.  After that we carry out checks for allergens on the finished product to make sure that they system has actually worked as it is supposed to.



6. What are your future plans for the chocolate (flavors, add ins?)

We want to bring out new flavors for sure, but most important is probably to have product in formats that are most usable for what our customers want - so we will look at packaging developments to do single serve formats or formats that are friendlier for children and for sharing.

7. Where can the product be purchased?

We only just introduced PASCHA in March of 2013 and as of today we are available online only but we are in the midst of discussions with several retailers both large and small so we hope to announce the start of our retail roll-out very soon.

8. Whom do we contact for more information or questions about allergen-free status?

Please contact Courtenay Vuchnich (me) either my email courtenay@paschachocolate.com or by telephone 1-855-472-7242 (4-PASCHA) EXT 102.

9. Final thoughts?

The one thing that really surprises everyone about PASCHA is that it tastes so good.  Somehow with a product that is gluten-free and allergen free there is an expectation that it won't taste very good.  Interestingly with chocolate the reality is different - as you make a simple and pure formulation in an ultra pure environment, you actually get a wonderful pure taste, so it actually ends up being better for all chocolate lovers.


No comments: