What it means to be an allergy free bakery

If you suffer from food allergies, then you’re all too familiar with how difficult it can be to find places to eat out and buy food (especially yummy baked goods!) For those who have celiac disease, even the slightest contamination with gluten can have severe consequences. The same goes for those with nut allergies.

Most bakeries and cafes serve both cow’s milk and plant-based milk using the same coffee machine. If you’re lactose intolerant, then the last thing you want is to be mistakenly served a cow’s milk latte.

That’s why bakeries must be transparent about the ingredients they use and where cross-contamination could have occurred so that those with allergies can make informed decisions.

We are very aware of the struggles faced by those with food allergies and the risks. That is why we are happy to operate in a facility that is free of many common allergens.

What does it mean to be allergy-free?

Food allergies impact 50% of Canadian households. The most common allergens include eggs, dairy, tree nuts, shellfish and gluten. For us, when we say one of our products is allergy-free, we mean that no ingredients containing that allergen entered our facility at any time.

If you have a food allergy and are looking at labels, it may say nut-free, dairy-free or gluten-free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s allergy-free. Look out for statements like:

May contain…

May contain traces of…

Made on shared equipment with…

Produced in the same facility as…

These all mean that there is a potential chance of cross-contamination. So, although the product itself may not contain gluten, it may have traces of gluten that have been transferred from pieces of equipment or surfaces.

The best scenario is that you can speak directly to the baker to avoid any confusion and ensure that what you’re purchasing is entirely free of the specific allergen you’re concerned about.
Our kitchen is 100% vegan, meaning we are entirely free from eggs and dairy. If you suffer from one of those allergies, you can rest assured that there are no traces in any of our baked goods or beverages. Our kitchen was built from scratch with all new equipment that has never been used on animal products. That includes our coffee machine! The only kinds of milk our frother touches are plant-based.

The difference between allergy-free and allergy-friendly

There is a difference between being allergy-free and allergy-friendly. Even if you prepare cupcakes that are gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free, but you prepare them in a kitchen where those allergens may have been present before, then you cannot call them allergy-free.

We offer products that are entirely free of dairy and eggs at our bakery, made in a kitchen where no dairy and eggs have ever been present. We can guarantee that if you have a dairy or egg allergy, all our products will be entirely allergy-free for you.

That said, we also bake wheat-, soy- and sesame-free goods in a kitchen that also prepares items containing those allergens. So, we cannot guarantee that all our baked goods are allergy-free for customers with those allergies. We do offer gluten-free bread, which is an excellent option for anyone trying to lower their gluten intake, but we don’t recommend it to those who are celiac.

You will likely see the term “allergy-friendly” being thrown around as well when used to describe bakeries, cafes or restaurants. While the term isn’t necessarily the most straightforward, in general, somewhere that is allergy-friendly will understand the needs of customers who suffer from allergies. Their staff will be informed about which items are allergy-free and which contain specific allergens. There should also always be someone on site who can discuss potential allergens with customers who have concerns.

An allergy-friendly bakery isn’t necessarily entirely allergy-free. They may have certain pieces of equipment, or surfaces, that they take extra care to keep allergy-free, but as long as allergens enter the kitchen, there is a chance of cross-contamination.

Using allergy-friendly ingredients

Instead of using dairy and eggs in our baked goods and beverages, we use equally as delicious and effective alternatives. For any allergen that exists, there is almost always an alternative that will serve the same purpose, such as making bread fluffy or binding ingredients together.

Eggs are often used in baked goods as binders, aerators, emulsifiers, thickeners, or glaze. Egg allergies are most common in the younger population, but they are still considered a priority food allergen by Health Canada. There are tons of egg alternatives that work just as well for the purposes, so why bother using eggs at all? Using allergy-friendly ingredients instead means that more people can enjoy your products.

In recipes where eggs are used as binders, you can replace them with flaxseed, banana, silken tofu, plant-based yogurt, chia seed, psyllium husk or chickpea flour. Chickpea flour can also be used as a raising agent. And tapioca starch as a thickener.

Transparency is key

When dealing with food allergies, there is no room for grey areas. While we serve lots of nut-free, soy-free, sesame-free, wheat-free and gluten-free items, we are transparent about the fact that we use shared equipment. We have an open-plan kitchen concept with the baker always on-site to answer any questions regarding any food allergies.

If you have food allergies and are trying to find a bakery that caters to you, it should be obvious that their products do not contain allergens. If you can’t find information, or if it’s confusing in any way, then it’s better to speak directly to the baker for confirmation.

How we cater to those with allergies

BReD is, and has always been, a vegan bakery. By being vegan, not only are we serving vegans, but also those who suffer from dairy and egg allergies. With everything we produce here at BReD, we are entirely transparent about the ingredients we use and where cross-contamination could occur. We are committed to the safety of our customers and want to ensure that everyone gets to thoroughly enjoy our delicious baked goods without risk!

If you have serious food allergies, it is always better to ask if there is any uncertainty about whether or not a product may have come in contact with allergens. Come visit us in Creekside and chat with our baker about the yummy options available to you!