If you’re allergic to dairy, nuts, soya or wheat most mainstream shop bought chocolates are off limits. You can’t just walk into a newsagent and buy free from chocolate, however ranges are growing at health food shops like Holland and Barret or a larger supermarket free from aisles.
If chocolate ingredients look allergen free, they often have ‘may contain’ warnings and even dark chocolate isn’t safe. Green and Blacks famously ‘added’ milk powder to their dark chocolate a while back, making it dangerous for allergic chocolate lovers. Never assume that because it’s dark chocolate it’s OK. e.g Lindt chocolate all come with a dairy and nut warning.
The manufacturing process for chocolate
The way chocolate is produced makes it a dangerous treat for anyone with allergies. Manufacturers cannot guarantee that their plain chocolate varieties are nut and/or free; this is because machinery is washed down with chocolate, not cleaning agents as these would affect the taste of the chocolate. The chocolate used to clear out the system then gets circulated back into the big chocolate vat, so any traces of nuts and other ingredients it picks up, could then be found present in any bar of chocolate the company makes. It’s not safe to risk it.
Should you eat chocolate with ‘may contain’ warnings?
Nut and dairy allergic people will probably be aware of the risks, and sometimes for the rush or a chocolate fix, defy the warnings and hope for the best. Sometimes you’ll be OK but other times that tell-tale tingling starts to spread over your lips, mouth and tongue and you know you’ve found a rogue nut or dairy trace. It’s like playing Russian Roulette, and maybe you’ll get away with it, but reviewing the way chocolate is made there could be a very high risk of quite large traces of allergen protein. I would advise that you don’t take this risk, having done the stupid thing myself, I can tell you that there are quite often traces. I used to take a small bite and then give the chocolate away if my lips tingled. That was back in my teenaged years, before I knew better.
Finding soya free chocolate if you have a soya allergy
One of my bug bears is soya lecithin in chocolate. There are affordable alternatives like sunflower lecithin and many brands are swapping to this safer alternative. I have a soya allergy myself however and I do find that I’m Ok with soya lecithin, but I know many avoid that too. The reason the lecithin should be OK for a soya allergic person is that all the protein has been processed out of the lecithin. I am very allergic to soya milk but the lecithin is OK for me, though I avoid it if I can.
Choosing safe free from chocolate
Life without chocolate isn’t something I want to submit to, and I have found lots of companies out there who make nut, dairy and many other allergen free chocolate. You should find them in large supermarkets; Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s often stock free from brands and also produce their own very nice allergy free chocolate, but you have to be prepared to search around and keep your eye out for new varieties.
Ordering on-line is the best way to guarantee your chocolate fix, consider ordering a couple of months’ worth of dairy free chocolate if you have the cupboard space.
It’s best to avoid any brand that has nut and milk chocolate varieties as there could be cross contamination.
If in doubt, always contact the manufacturers to confirm their processes, I wonder if no may contain warning means it’s safe, or just that the company hasn’t assessed their allergen trace safety procedures.
Top 10 Free From chocolate brands
I have discovered a number of companies that make allergen free chocolate and here are few of my favourites, in no particular order:
- Kinnerton and Nomo – their 100g Luxury plain chocolate is delicious. They also do a full range of flavours including Caramel, fruit and crunch, caramel and salted chocolate, orange crunch, sharing bags and advent calendars for kids and adults!
- Plamil – my favourite is their new Rum and Raisin bar. You can buy online and delivery is free if you spend over £25. Also available through Holland and Barrett online.
- Creative Nature – All products FreeFrom Top14 allergens. They have amazing flavours like Hazlenot, salted caramel and more. I am addicted to Gnawbles – if you’ve not tried them yet you have to! Like a cross between Ferrero Rocher and Maltesers. Check them out today and use code WHATALLERGY10 for 10% off every purchase! Creative Nature also sell cacao nibs if you love that raw dark chocolate hit.
- Cocoa Libre – These are vegan, gluten free, nut free, dairy free and wheat free. They do a kids range and some really cool luxury options for adults, as well as beautiful animal shapes and Christmas chocolates. Some of these contain soya lecithin so check the ingredients before buying if you have as soya allergy.
- Freedom Chocolate – Sign up to their newsletter for 10% off your first purchase. All chocolate is Dairy-free, Top 14 allergen free, Nut free and Soya free & gluten free. These are great if you are looking for adult chocolate and the dark high content chocolate hit. The ingredients are also so simple. eg. Coffee Chocolate bar – ingredients: Organic Raw Cacao Butter, Organic Raw Cacao Powder, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Fairtrade Coffee (4.8%). Raw Cacao 73%
- Raw Chocolate Company – vegan and raw chocolate made with oat milk. Sign up for 10% of your first order. These are NOT suitable for anyone with a nut allergy, but are wheat, dairy and soya free.
- Nono Cocoa Chocolates – These area adult luxury chocolates! Can’t wait to give them a try. They also do an advent calendar. Free from the Top 14 allergens.
- Moo Free – Dairy free, gluten free, soya free and lactose free chocolates. They do mini bars for kids and baking drops and artisan options. They also do a great range of allergen safe Christmas treats for kids. Sign up to their newsletter for 10% off your first order.
- D&D Chocolates – These are one of the original older established brands, one of the first to offer nut free chocolate. They were originally founded in the late 1980’s by Michelle Berridale-Johnson of Foods Matter and the Free From Food Awards. They are dairy, nut and gluten free. They do a christmas range, fondants, egg shaped chocolates, vegan sweets and carob drops.
- Push – Award winning vegan chocolate. Products include chocolate buttons are free from all 14 major food allergens; including dairy, gluten, nuts and soya. The chocolate is produced in an allergen-free factory to mitigate against contamination from food allergens as much as possible. Flavours include mint, salted caramel and chocolate buttons. They also do a low sugar version that’s suitable for diabetics. Get 10% off with your first order.
- Supermarket own brands – Some contain soya lecithin and always check the labels but most now do their own brand chocolates. Coops mini chocolate bars are great. Tesco giant chocolate buttons are also brilliant. Shop around as new products are coming on board all the time.
Best free from biscuit brands
- Nairns – They do a range of biscuits from fruity to chocolate flavour. I’ve always been OK with these and my favourite are the Syrop oat biscuits. Most are wheat free and nut free but some have soya, and may contain dairy warnings as they do produce some savoury biscuits with milk as in ingredient. They also have some confusing labelling. e.g. ‘Both our recipe and factory are nut free. We cannot guarantee that our ingredients are nut free. Manufactured on equipment that handles milk.‘ So is it nut free? or just sort of nut free? Messaging like this is very confusing. I will confess that I have eaten these biscuits for years and had not issues with them. I would urge caution with the chocolate flavour ones as I think there may be milk traces in this one.
- Angelic Free From – The best luxury cookies in various delicious flavours including Ginger Choc Chip and Chocolate Chip and Double Choc chip. They are all Top 14 Allergen Safe and have horrible may contains. These are almost too good and I wolf them down in no time Free delivery on orders over £20.
- Creative Nature – Protein snack bars that are sugar free, high in protein and free from the top 14 allergens. They also do cake, pancake and bread mixes to make at home.
- Freedom Mallows – egg, dairy and nut free marsh mallows!
- Supermarket own brands – All the usuals, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Coop, Morrisons and Waitrose now all supply their own brand free from chocolate biccies. Always check the labels! You could save some money looking at these as they can often be cheaper.
- Lazy Days Foods – Chocolate Tiffin bites, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Rocky Road and more. They also do cakes! Check the labels as some do contain soya. These are fab though and they also supply to the supermarket own brands so you’ll notice that the exact same products are there under Tesco, Coop etc. branding. Always read the labels.
- Freee (Doves Farm) – do a range of vegan, dairy free and nut free biscuits. As well as ginger and lemon biscuits they also do little Oat bars that are free from gluten, milk, peanut, egg and soya. There are also no on pack may contain warnings.
- Mrs Crimbles Macaroons – They do Macaroons that are gluten free and vegan. Ingredients: Coconut (27%), Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Egg White, Potato Starch, Dextrose, Rice Flour, Palm Kernel Fat, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder (1.5%), Palm Fat, Stabiliser: Sorbitan Tristearate, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin. May contain Milk and Nuts, as we do use these at the bakery.
Where can I buy free from chocolate?
It can be frustrating when you have to hunt around for your favourite brands, but if you plan ahead, it can be done. Here are my suggestions of where to find them:
- Buy direct – I often buy direct (use links above) and make sure you reach the value that gives you free postage! Sign up for newsletters, you often get a small discount for doing so and will be notified of any future offers.
- Yumbles – An online shop for all things free from. Get £5 off your first order!
- Holland and Barrett stocks Nairns, Angelic and Nomo. If we all ask them for other products, they may extend their range. So contact them if you’d like to find other products in their stores and online.
- Nut Free Living Marketplace – Suppliers of nut and peanut free food.
- Supermarket Free From aisles – Always growing and improving and own brand options can also be cheaper.
- Health Food shops – I like to find the independent health food stores, they can often have things I’ve never seen before so a well worth a browse.
- Garden Centres – They often have wonderful shops with carefully chosen produce, many of which is often free from, and allergen free.
- Amazon – I’m often loathed to recommend them because we all know they don’t pay their taxes and often sell at very low prices, making it have for genuine independent retailers to survive. However, many of these brilliant free from allergen brands have an online shop on Amazon. So if you’re watching the pennies, and can buy in bulk, you can often make great savings on Amazon. Having a Prime membership will also help with free postage.
Bake your own free from biscuits
There are loads of freefrom bloggers out there, but here a few that I return time and time again for tried and tested recipe:
- Glutarama – gluten free without the drama. Many recipes are also vegan and nut free
- Lecoindemel – Loads of recipes, lifestyle and parenting blogs suitable for allergy families
- Free From Fairy – Recipes, free from cookery courses and more
- Deliciously Allergen free – for even more great free from recipes
Baking your own can be fun for all the family and that way you also guarantee you know the ingredients.
What’s your favourite free from brand?
What is your favourite free from chocolate brand? I find it hard to choose, they’re all a very high standard, and I think I have favourites for different occasions. I really like very dark chocolate so Freedom Chocolate hits that mark. I don’t have such a sweet tooth so some of them are a little over sugary for me, but I do love the Nomo pink fruit and choc bar and also of course, Gnawbles from Creative Nature which are like the most amazing Maltesers! (Use code WHATALLERGY10 for 10% off.)
Need another roundup?
Are you looking for something in particular but can’t find it? Looking for a roundup of freefrom products? Let me have your ideas and I’ll add them to my blog list. I can’t promise anything but I’m here to help you so inspire me!
You may also be interested in reading:
- For my American readers, Check out this Top 8 Allergen Free chocolate guide
- For vegan chocolates read – 10 best vegan chocolates
- Alex at Allergy Insight’s blog – Free From Christmas Chocolate
- Can you buy nut and dairy free cocoa powder?
- We need to talk about my Gnawbles habit
- Visit the Free From Food Awards website for endless inspiration of freefrom goodies