“We go to extraordinary lengths to try and make our chocolates safe for people with Nut Allergy.”
There are no GUARANTEES in life but we at Kinnerton have spent over £1 million and have stringent procedures in place just to keep Nuts OUT of a segregated and walled off area of our factory so that 5 of our production lines can offer up chocolate products for children and adults that are produced in controlled conditions on machinery that never runs nut products.
So, how should you rank our promise?
- Is it stronger than: This product may contain Nuts? Absolutely, because we do not run nut products on our nut segregated lines
- Is it stronger than a competitors pack having no nut statement of any kind? Yes, because we go to extraordinary lengths to try and make our chocolates safe. Read on to see what we do and what sets us apart from virtually every other chocolate manufacturer in the world.
Look out for our Nut Safety Promise mark on the front of every pack.
How safe is our product for Nut Allergy Sufferers?
In the years since Kinnerton first segregated its production facilities in 1999, we have produced well in excess of 300 million packs of chocolate based around our nut segregated facilities and we have never had a verified nut incident. That figure becomes more meaningful, because the very people who have most to lose from Nut Contamination, because they suffer from Nut Allergy, are the very people who have TARGETED Kinnerton Nut Promise products. More information about allergies is available from the The Anaphylaxis Campaign at www.anaphylaxis.org.uk.
How do we achieve this?
Like most Confectioners, we have Nuts (but no Peanuts) as a vital part of our ingredients. By way of example: Almonds for Marzipan, Hazelnuts for Pralines and Walnuts for Walnut Whips. So we have nuts on our premises and always have had. What we have tried to do since 1999 is to take Good Manufacturing Practices a huge leap forward by segregating our factory in to distinct zones – those with nuts in the ingredients and those without. In 1999, this cost us over £1,000,000 to achieve and the cost of maintaining it means that in effect we are running 2 factories on one site.
To maintain the zone separation, we have taken it upon ourselves to undertake vast amounts of manufacturing disruption and strict codes of practice, such as:
A Dividing Wall
We have always felt that the best way of keeping nuts out of our Nut Segregated area is to build a wall between the nut side and the ‘non’-nut side. We did this in 1999, moving all but one of our 7 production lines together with all the associated Chocolate Pipework and Services such a move required. The wall is still our best form of ‘defence’ based on the simple fact that you can’t move people and nuts through it by accident! Obviously this has the effect of running 2 factories on one site with all the attendant costs this entails, over and above the £1,000,000 we initially spent on the project.
Our Raw Material Suppliers
All Kinnerton raw material suppliers are risk assessed for their ability to supply safe ingredients to our factory. We do this either by auditing the supplier via our QA team or by a self declaration against our Supplier Specification Forms. Bear in mind we have over 200 ever changing ingredients in our business, coming from all over the world.
Sometimes we may only buy a few litres or a few kilos of an item such as Key Lime Flavour or Dried Blueberries, so we assess the risk and audit accordingly.
Notwithstanding any assessment or audit, we test all goods inwards for peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds (the only nuts that have a rapid protein test and are also the 3 of the largest nut allergens) to try and ensure that they are safe. This, of course, includes all the chocolate that we take in to the factory. Over and above this, we periodically audit our Liquid Chocolate intake for 9 Nut (Peanuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Cashews, Pistachios, Brazil Nuts, Macadamias and Walnuts) DNA tests.
Colour differentiation is the best way of ensuring people and ‘things’ stay visibly segregated. In the case of Clothing we have a full factory clothing regime change when passing between the 2 sides of the factory. Essentially, Yellow for Nuts and White for the Nut Segregated side. We also have different colour clothing for our engineers.
There are countless factory regimes in place in our attempts to keep nuts out of our segregated factory. Here are a few of them:
- Segregated Warehousing.
- 2 different Mould Washing units to ensure that Nut moulds and trays etc do not contaminate Non Nut moulds and trays.
- Separate colour coded Engineering Tools. A significant amount of money has been carried over the tools from one side to the other, to stop any potential contaminating of our products.
- Heavy Duty Food Grade Trays are used by the tens of thousands in the business, but we have ensured that they are suitably colour coded and do not move from one side to the other. The same applies to the hundreds of thousands of sheets of greaseproof paper we use in the business.
General Purpose - Non Nut.
Blue trays with greaseproof paper
Nut Product. Yellow trays with
coloured greaseproof paper
- We have separate Development Kitchens, separate First Aid Rooms, separate Changing Rooms, separate Engineering Shops as well as separate Mixing Rooms, Preparation Areas and Packing Lines.
- We control the Air Flow in our factory so that ‘clean’ air from the Nut Segregated Zone passes through to the ‘dirty’ Nut Manufacturing Zone. This is exceptionally difficult to control as we can’t ‘see’ it happen. Accordingly we have a regime of Environmental Swabbing and Testing at various points through the factory to keep us aware of any potential adverse air movements.
- And then there are People! As you can imagine, controlling a factory of up to 700 people and all their movements is a huge task to undertake. For starters, no-one can bring Nut or Nut Trace items in to the factory. Yes, we have nuts in our Nut Manufacturing Side, but no individual can bring nuts on to our site. Our staff, following Nut Training at induction, are constantly receiving refresher sessions and are alerted and warned of the problems of Nut Cross Contamination. Everyone who works at Kinnerton Confectionery has Nut Allergy implications right at the forefront of their thinking!
- We also undertake a regime of Nut Protein Testing on the environment, product and people to verify that our controls are working.
Does this mean that Kinnerton Nut Promise Products are GUARANTEED NUT FREE?
What we can guarantee...
...is that the disciplines and manufacturing controls that Kinnerton has worked with for over a decade are still present and forever under review and forever being tightened; as we learn more about the issues we have confronted (in manufacturing), so we try and deal with them.
However, as we said at the start, there are no guarantees in life. In recent years there have been huge advances in the science of Allergen Detection so that it is now possible for a Laboratory to detect down to 1ppm (one Part per Million) which is the equivalent say of one small drop of milk in over 100 pints of milk. So, even if you have an infinitesimal amount present anywhere, then you cannot legally say that you are ‘Nut Free’. No Authoritative Body at present can say if such a tiny amount of Nut Protein detectable would cause even the most sensitive of Sufferers a reaction, but precedent currently says such a product cannot be classified ‘Nut Free’.
At Kinnerton Confectionery, despite all our defensive measures, we cannot account for the real world issues that would appear to be beyond our control. If we invited you as a visitor to our factory, how do we know that you did not have a peanut butter sandwich a few days previously, or were at an Office Party where Nuts were present and somehow the tiniest particle of dust stayed with you and came in to our segregated area? These are realities we as manufacturers have to face and they are as true for you in your own home and kitchen as they are for us and the 700 people who work in and around Kinnerton.
Notwithstanding this, we believe that we are a safe factory not only for our huge efforts in segregating nuts since 1999, but also because we are always learning and improving; besides, we undertake these measures because we are sure that they are the right thing to do and we are committed to them.
The Kinnerton Nut Safety Promise allows you to buy a much, much safer product because of the measures we have undertaken in our factory, accordingly we hope that you, or the child our products are intended for, enjoy our chocolates and feel more secure about the manufacturing processes we undertake and believe in.