We have, unfortunately, had to withdraw our invitation to be a judge at the FreeFrom Food Awards from one of our prospective judges. She is a freefrom wholesaler. You can find her on her Facebook page and I understand that she also has a blog.
The reason we have withdrawn the invitation is because she had expressed some rather strong opinions about some freefrom products on her Facebook page – nothing wrong in that – but had done so in a gratuitously offensive manner.
Just to set the record straight, we had two reasons for withdrawing our invitation:
1. We felt that the language that she had used about the products was inappropriate for someone who would be judging the awards.
2. We value the integrity of the FreeFrom Food Awards above all else and it is therefore essential for us to be absolutely sure that all of those that we invite to sit on our judging panels are entirely independent and objective and have no connection, either positive or negative, with any of the companies who might be submitting products to the awards.
It appeared from the comments that the lady concerned might have some particular problem with these brands which would prevent her taking a totally objective view of their products if she were to taste them – although, since all tastings/judgings are blind it is very unlikely that she would know them if she did.
However, even if we were convinced of her independence and objectivity, we would not be prepared to take the risk that she might recognise a product and therefore be biased either for or against it.
While, obviously, we believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion of any product, freefrom or otherwise – and we certainly engage in a good deal of what we hope is constructive criticism in our own product reviews – we do not see any need to be offensive just because one wishes to be critical.
As regards transparency and open-ness, the tables reporting on the awards judging not only give the judges comments, but give full ingredient details and flag up additives and manufacturing aids using a traffic light system so that readers can judge the products’s ingredients for themselves.