Nut-free cake producer relies on AgraStrip® and Romer Labs service to test on-site, fast and cost-effectively

Entrepreneur Mike Woods founded the Just Love Food Company in 2009 in response to a problem that thousands of parents of children with nut allergies face: how to celebrate birthdays and other events with cakes that everyone, even those allergic to nuts, can enjoy. From its bakery in South Wales, the Just Love Food Company brings its line of 100% nut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free cakes to leading supermarkets across the UK.

The Challenge

To be successful, the Just Love Food Company needed to 

  • ensure that its products are 100% free of nuts 
  • expand its product line to gluten-free and dairy-free cakes 
  • minimize the need for external testing with an in-house solution 
  • get quick testing results to preserve the shelf life of its cakes

The Solution

With help from Romer Labs, Just Love Food Company 

  • implemented AgraStrip® test kits on-site to gain independent control of its testing 
  • externally validated its testing program 
  • scaled its testing to guarantee the safety of all ingredients and products in every batch

The Outcome 

Now Just Love Food Company can 

  • read results in 10 minutes on-site at a fraction of the cost of external testing 
  • benefit from a comprehensive allergen lab and ongoing technical support for CSS, ELISA validation and sample verification 
  • positively verify that all its products are 100% nut-free 
  • be confident enough in its processes to bring gluten-free and dairy-free cakes to market

“With AgraStrip® and Romer Labs, we can reliably confirm on-site that our products are 100% nut-free, all at a fraction of the time and cost of external testing solutions. Now we have the confidence to help those suffering from other allergies as well by producing gluten-free and dairy-free cakes.”

Mike Woods, the Founder of Just Love Food Company, tells his story…

The Challenge

“May contain nuts.” When we learned that one of our daughters, and then our son, had severe nut allergies, we had no way of knowing how much this label warning would impact our lives when it came to family celebrations such as birthdays and holidays. In founding the Just Love Food Company, I wanted to help parents who, like us, needed to be sure that the cakes they were serving their children were 100% free of nuts. This meant we needed a verified program for testing for nut allergens in all incoming ingredients and outgoing products. Here, external testing labs weren’t much help: the waiting times were long – up to 10 days, which is a third of a cake’s shelf life – and the costs were horrendous. Their rapid testing options weren’t much better: 3 days of waiting at twice the cost.

The Solution

Romer Labs came to our production facility and trained our experts on-site with AgraStrip®, allowing us to customize and manage our testing program internally. With 16 different types of cake, our business is relatively small. All the same, AgraStrip® enables to scale up our testing so we can verify that every single batch we make is 100% nut-free. We were also able to have our testing program validated externally to the minimum level detected.

The Outcome

For us, the confidence that our customers have in any cake that comes from Just Love Food is the greatest reward. It also gives us peace of mind to know we can rely on technical support and the expertise of a comprehensive allergen lab whenever we need it. Services such as the check sample survey, ELISA validation and sample verification have proved invaluable for us in keeping our nut safe promise. We’re also faster now; instead of waiting for 10 days, we now only have to wait for about 10 minutes at a fraction of the cost of external testing. This frees up resources and gives us the confidence to help other allergy sufferers by expanding our product lines to include gluten-free and dairy-free cakes.

Mike Woods has spent over 20 years in the food industry. Beginning as a management accountant at RF Brookes Ltd. in Leicester, he became managing director of Avana Bakeries, a major supplier of celebration cakes to Marks & Spencer in 1999. Ten years later, he founded the Just Love Food Company, which brings 100% nut-free cakes to stores across the UK.