It may seem odd that seaweed (clearly from the sea!) could be considered allergen free seaweed. However, Seaweed & Co. can offer allergen free seaweed within the parameters stated, and which we explain more about here.
By its very nature, seaweed comes from the sea, and so the presence of fish and crustaceans in the same water as our seaweed is something that we cannot avoid. However, we do offer allergen free seaweed by virtue of the way we harvest, process and undertake extensive analysis.
Furthermore, our allergen free seaweed goes further to ensure allergens are not handled on site, and operating procedures are in place to cover this.
Harvesting for Allergen Free Seaweed
The core species of seaweed we harvest, Ascophyllum nodosum, is cut by specialist vessels, and not by hand. This is a key part of reducing the likelihood of allergens such as fish, crustaceans and molluscs. The seaweed is cut around high tide, when it is floating up towards the water surface. Since only the top foot or two of the seaweed is harvested, then there is far less likelihood of encountering other organisms. When seaweed is hand harvested, it is done at low-tide which is when the seaweed is on the rocks out of the water. At this stage, other organisms are active in and around the seaweed. This makes the likelihood of potential allergens being incorporated in harvested seaweed much higher.
An interesting fact about Ascophyllum seaweed is that it needs to reduce its drag in the water due to the often high energy environments that the it inhabits. Higher drag increase the likelihood of being swept off the rocks. Consequently, the seaweed regularly sheds its outer layer to ensure that any encrusting organisms cannot stick as well and create increased drag. This therefore also helps us produce allergen free seaweed.
The Marine Life Information Network notes that: “Ascophyllum nodosum repeatedly sloughs its entire outer epidermis, a phenomenon not exhibited by other related seaweeds. (Filion-Myclebust & Norton, 1981). Despite its longevity Ascophyllum nodosum is remarkably free of epiphytes even when adjacent plants of other species of fucoid algae are heavily infested. Shedding activity appears to contribute to this difference.”
Processing Allergen Free Seaweed
Following specialist harvesting, our seaweed is transported back to the factory in dedicated and cleaned down trucks. The seaweed is shredded to reduce size, and then proprietary dried and processed to further reduce the chance of allergens. This is part of our Patent Pending process, and which improves quality of product also.
Furthermore, we have strict operating procedures for allergens being restricted from the site during food grade processing.
We operate a SALSA approved site.
Testing for Allergen Free Seaweed
As per our specification, each batch is tested for Fish and Crustaceans, and periodically for molluscs. Tests are carried out in independent UKAS Accredited laboratories. Batches are below limits of detection.
Furthermore, Seaweed & Co. has developed with specialist accredited laboratories our DNA Authenticated SeaweedTM. This analytically authenticates the species, and has proven provenance back to our unique supply.
Whilst this DNA Authentication doesn’t form a specific part of the allergen free seaweed, it is part of the wider quality assurance and transparent traceability system we provide.
Supplying Allergen Free Seaweed
Seaweed & Co.’s seaweed products are supplied into the some of the largest food and nutrition manufacturers in the UK and beyond. Several sites operate as strictly allergen free, and have accepted our allergen free seaweed.
Please get in touch to find out more and request supporting documentation and other details
Whilst the efforts discussed in this article are carried out, customers must be aware that this is a natural product harvested from the sea, and they should satisfy themselves that the product is suitable for their end use before any further manufacture or packing.