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Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, in a scarf and chequered hat surrounded by trees
Podcast / The Big Interviews
Podcast / The Big Interviews

Michelle Berriedale-Johnson – the UK’s free-from fighter

We all want to make an impact with the work we do, there can be no doubt that Michelle Berriedale-Johnson has achieved just that.

She is an expert on food allergies and intolerances, and it would be no underestimation to say she has been crucial in spreading that knowledge to healthcare professionals and the wider public.

Over the past decade, we have all become much more aware of food allergies and intolerances. For those who have them, the experience of shopping, cooking and eating can be challenging.  

But things have improved. Laws have been introduced to improve labelling and the variety and quality of free-from food has vastly increased too.  

But when Michelle first took an interest in the subject, there was very little information out there at all.

In this episode of the Food Matters Live podcast, which is part of our Big Interviews series, we ask: Where does the free-from sector go next?

Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, Founder, Freefrom Awards

Way back in 1987, just as I was starting work on a major history of English food, my eighteen-month-old son and his father were diagnosed with dairy intolerances. Back then the alternatives for those on dairy-free diets were few and far between and pretty unappealing so, after some months of experimentation, I launched Berrydales Special Ices, soya based ices which were dairy and additive free – and tasted delicious!

While manufacturing the ices I started a newsletter, The Inside Story, about food allergy and food intolerance and, by 1995, it was a quarterly magazine circulating to over 35,000 health professionals. In 2000 The Inside Story, re-named Foods Matter, became a subscription magazine and in due course, the magazine gave way to a website, foodsmatter.com, covering everything to do with food allergy and intolerance and all of the many health conditions related to them.

And out of the websites and the rapidly expanding market for ‘freefrom’ (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free etc) food have grown the freefrom awards: the Freefrom Food Awards, FreeFrom Christmas Awards, the FreeFrom Skincare Awards and FreeFrom Gift Awards. The awards  now have a significant social media presence on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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