What’s new on the blog this week?
What a week it has been!
I spoke a little about this in my blog post on Friday, but the cake week started with Tuesday’s announcement by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that they had decided to issue a Food Alert for Action to local authorities to withdraw from sale the entire Rolkem range with immediate effect.
Most of us had realised that this was looking increasingly likely, but I know some people were still taken by surprise. Head down to this week’s ‘Have you heard…?’ feature to read more – a lot more…
Last week, I teased that I was putting together a special project and that more information would follow. Well, true to my word, I published my first post about it over on the Fabricake Blog. As a regular contributor to their awesome site, they were my natural choice when I reached out for sponsorship for my special plan and I was thrilled when they agreed to come on board.
You can find the introductory post right here and be sure to bookmark the page, because, as the project progresses, I will be taking you with me on my journey to bring this project to life.
Have you heard…?
Surely the biggest talking point this week have been the further shocking developments in the #RolkemSaga.
As I mentioned above, this week the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued a Food Alert for Action to instruct local authorities to withdraw the entire Rolkem range from sale with immediate effect.
Their alert explained:
“Consumers should be aware that a Food Business Operator (FBO) based in South Africa, Rolkem ‘Expressions in Colour’ has been producing a range of products for use in cakes and confectionary for which they have failed to provide assurances of product safety.
“Two products were previously recalled due to elevated levels of copper (details can be found in FSA-PRIN-27-2108 issued on 11 May 2018). Since that recall, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have made concerted efforts to ascertain an accurate understanding of the Rolkem products range and requested a number of ingredient details from Rolkem to confirm their suitability for use in food. This information has not been provided.
“Following recent efforts to contact the FBO, to which we have received no satisfactory response, we have taken the decision to issue this Food Alert for Action to local authorities for the full Rolkem food range.”
It seems that there are those who are still clinging on to the hope that Andries Kemp, the CEO of Rolkem will eventually come through with the certificates, but I am told that the UK laboratory Kemp publicly claimed would be doing the independent testing, Salamon and Seaber have received no samples at all from the brand for testing.
While Kemp now insists that he has “employed the services of an external South-African based laboratory (Internationally Accredited under ILAC) to test all ROLKEM products (400+) to assure all of our supporters of the compliance to international food safety and edibility,” he has failed to follow through on all the claims and promises that he made back in May and for that reason, the FSA have issued the advice: “If you have bought any of the above products, do not use or consume them or use them in products for consumption by others.”
This quite literally means that we can no longer use ANY Rolkem products on our cakes. I have seen people suggesting that they might just reserve their stashes of Rolkem for parts of cakes intended to be non-edible, but even this isn’t advisable as the FSA went on to state that they “have advised local authorities with specialist cake decorating suppliers in their areas to visit these businesses to determine whether the premises hold any products supplied by Rolkem and withdraw them from sale.”
Ness Bolton, who trades as Boutique Bakes and Cakes by Ness Bolton told me how she was visited by her local Environmental Health Officer (EHO) after this week’s FAFA and her entire Rolkem stash was seized.
Fortunately, she has a really good relationship with her EHO, so the process wasn’t too upsetting, but it still left her feeling shocked. He told her that local authorities are taking the FAFA very seriously, so it seems likely that more of us will be receiving visits in the days ahead. Ness’ EHO also hinted that the FSA will be starting to take a closer look at other international manufacturers in light of these recent developments.
Ness explains that as more time has passed, her initial shock has given way to anger, particularly as she has now managed to calculate her total losses – at nearly £800 – but the saddest thing is she had considered Kemp a friend, having supported him when questions were asked about the brand in the past and even meeting his father at an event last year. But, she concludes, Andries has exhausted even her patience now.
This should clear up any confusion that may have been caused by the misinformation still being shared by Rolkem in their own statements:
“In response to the FAFA (Food Alert for Action) by the FSA, please note that this is not a recall on all ROLKEM products, this is merely an alert issued by the FSA, because we could not meet the unrealistic deadlines regarding test certificates on all our products. (We requested an extension on the deadline, as we are dependent on the speed and accuracy of this independent accredited laboratory, but the FSA could not shift the deadline)”
This quite simply isn’t true.
The FSA never imposed a deadline for results of the tests. In their joint statement issued back in May, it was actually Cake-Stuff Ltd and Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd who gave Kemp the deadline of the end of June to produce test certificates, otherwise they would pull the products from their stores.
If you recall, at the time, the brands issued Rolkem with six key questions and posted their responses on their websites. I have reposted them below (with Rolkem’s responses in italics):
1. FSS are unconvinced with the assurances that Rolkem will provide lab results for analyses of all products. Please, can you confirm (a) which lab is being used and (b) that they are UKAS accredited?
- a) We are in talks with Salamon Seaber Consulting and analytical chemists to employ their services as to test all ROLKEM products for UKAS compliance as well as to provide us with the relevant documents (MSDS forms and COC’s)
- b) Salamon Seaber Consulting and analytical chemists has been UKAS accredited since 1993. Please feel free to visit their website at http://www.salamonandseaber.co.uk/accreditation.html#ukas for more information on their accreditation.
2. Will there be a way (via your website, for example) for stockists and customers to access these results? We feel this is now necessary if we are to reassure UK customers that Rolkem products are safe. Access to test results and certificates of conformity are essential.
Yes, we will be uploading all relevant documents pertaining to the tests carried out by Salamon & Seaber to our website (www.rolkem.co.za) in due time, as well as e-mail the documents to yourself and other stockists, additional to this we will also be shipping the hard copy documents to yourself and other stockists.
3. Super Gold shows only 2 ingredients: gold E175 and Mica E555. Labelling regulations require ingredients to be listed in order of greatest first, therefore at least 50% must be gold. In a 50g pot, that means there is 25g (min) of gold and at today’s values that means a value of over $1,000 (US). This is based on 24k but even at a lower purity, it is obvious that something is far wrong with this scenario.
This is a labelling problem that we had. Later Super Gold Labels show the ingredients in the following order: E555, E172, E175. The base and main product is Mica, that is coated with Iron Oxide, and then the Gold Nano particles was fused to that, under a high temperature. Due to two reasons we are changing the recipe of the new Super Gold, to exclude the Nano Gold Particles. The first reason being that we cannot afford a mistake in Quality and manufacturing by receiving the incorrect (Non 24 Carat) Gold. Secondly, we are experiencing a lot of pressure from consumers globally to remove all heavy metals, (Nano Gold Particles and Nano Silver particles) from all our ingredients. This shall also resolve the issue to conform to world standards on edibility. We currently have a pending court case between RKSA and Anglo Gold Ashanti, that supplied RKSA with the lower quality gold containing brass. Because of this case being sub-judice we can currently not obtain Nano-Gold particles, as we could only receive a license from the department of mining to obtain Nano-Gold Particles from them. We shall not launch the New Super Gold until we are 100% satisfied with the quality and have received sign off from the FSA.
4. If the Rolkem version events is true and one batch was contaminated, then everyone should expect the new batch to arrive and be labelled as before. However, we’re now learning that the new replacement product will have different ingredients and won’t even contain any gold (Mica and Iron Oxide). You will understand why almost everyone is jumping to the conclusion that the original ingredients listing was simply untrue all along. Why did you decide to change the ingredients?
As stated in my previous answer to your question pertaining to the purity of the gold and ingredient listing, being 100% honest we are struggling and this has hit us hard to say the least , we have been forced to change the ingredients because of the impure supply of gold from Anglo Ashanti thus the change in ingredients. We are trying our utmost to correct this and to provide our stockists with the best, as for labelling, we have employed a UK based labelling specialist to provide guidance on our labels to satisfy the UK consumer and stockist.
5. There is an industry rumour (we were told by another food colouring manufacturer) that Rolkem manufacture for Roxy & Rich. Is this true?
ROLKEM does manufacture for other UK based colour distributors. I am not at liberty to reveal whom we manufacture for, but it is definitely not Roxy & Rich, nor Rainbow Colours.
6. FSS test results showed unidentified ingredients in Stellar Green Lumo Gel. They also note that they know of no permitted additive that would result in this level of fluorescence. Please confirm full ingredients of this product, confirm what specifically causes the fluorescence and provide a certificate of conformity.
All of the ROLKEM products will be tested by Salamon & Seaber. Once we receive feedback from the laboratory we will provide you with the full ingredient listing and COC documentation pertaining to “Steller Green Lumo Gel”. The luminescence is obtained by adding Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), through a intricate chemical process.
You will see that many promises were made at the time and, as it stands, none of these have been delivered upon.
Revisiting these has also flagged up some further concerns for me. Just who are the ‘other UK-based colour distributors’ and how can we find out whether these too are unsafe for public consumption? Surely it cannot be long until a similar ban is issued against that product too?
I’m also hearing unconfirmed rumours that this might not be the end of this sorry saga, but I’ll let you know more when I do…
Cake Show Showcase:
On Thursday, it was finally announced that I am working with the NISE team to bring the UK’s newest cake show – created BY cake artists FOR cake artists – to life!
While I was incredibly touched to receive a barrage of congratulatory messages, it seems that the announcement also caused a bit of a stir in some circles and I felt the need to post a response to the main question that was being asked.
No, I’m NOT leaving the teaching profession. This isn’t a new job or a replacement career.
I have actually been working with Emma and Alessandra since April – all of the social media content and promotional materials you have been seeing come out of NISE HQ so far were already me – and I will be continuing to work with them alongside all of my other ongoing roles and projects in the months leading up to the show.
Like the rest of the team, I am not being paid for my work or my time, it is a passion project for us all and we are looking forward to developing a truly cutting-edge show that will push the limits of cake design, while still remaining true to the classic skills and styles of cake decorating.
There were some other exciting developments out of NISE HQ too, with our co-directors, Emma and Alessandra heading over to our showground at the Hilton Belfast Templepatrick Golf & Country Club to give you a sneak peek at what you can expect when you head over to the show next March.
I have yet to head over to see the venue in person, although I’m hoping to pop over during the school summer break, so I particularly enjoyed seeing the ladies bring it to life for us all online. Watch the video here.
During their Facebook LIVE, the ladies also dropped a VERY exciting surprise announcement – that the one and only Benny Rivera will be joining us in March to teach not one, but TWO amazing classes.
If you haven’t already liked the official NISE Facebook page, be sure to head over and get on that to keep up to date with all the latest news and information as it is released. I’m carrying so many exciting secrets around with me at the moment and I can’t wait to share them with you all!
This week I am mostly loving…
Let’s talk colours.
I know that many of our cake chums are facing the prospect of clearing out their cupboards and having to start again, when it comes to powder colours, so I was wondering who you would all recommend?
It seems that The Cake Decorating Company are eager to fill the Rolkem void with their brand, Roxy & Rich, and I know that the lovely Faye Cahill has released some lovely metallics – but I am yet to play with either. And of course another The Cake Decorating Company brand, Spectrum Flow continue to add to their line-up with a ton of demonstration videos coming out of their HQ this week.
But I’d love to hear from you… Who are you using?
Feel free to add your recommendations to the comments below!
The hottest ticket in town!
A couple of weeks ago, I had an email from Raise the Roof Productions, the production company behind Kirstie Allsopp’s Christmas craft series for Channel 4.
They are on the search for crafters to take part in the new series, which will be filming between August and October. They are filming fifteen crafty competitions and also searching for passionate makers who make fantastic festive goodies to feature on the programmes.
This year’s craft competitions are gingerbread house building, tree decorating, cake decorating, stocking making, best Christmas hamper, best handmade toy, best hand knitted Christmas jumper, best Christmas paper craft, best handmade wreath, best handmade gift, best handmade decorations, best handmade advent calendar, best handmade table dressing, best Christmas needlecraft (to include all sewing crafts) and best handmade pet gift.
Previous winners of Kirstie’s cake decorating competition have included incredible cake artists like Laura Dodimead of Life in Sugar and Zoe Burmester of Sugar Street Studios (then known as Darcey Oliver Cakes).
They are also looking to feature a wide range of other crafts and would encourage anyone interested to get in touch with them to find out more – check out the flyer above for the contact details. You can see programmes from last year’s series here.
I wanna make that!
If you know your patisserie (or like me are a regular viewer of the Great British Bake Off), then you will already be familiar the traditional Swedish Princess Cake.
This week, I saw a fabulously modern take on the traditional recipe posted by Renshaw Baking, which celebrates our nation’s love of summer lawn tennis.
Renshaw’s tennis-inspired Princess Cake is sure to be a real crowd pleaser, so if you would like to enhance your Wimbledon-viewing with a little slice of something decadent, you can find the recipe here.
The Collaboration Station
This week saw a fabulously delightful project published which celebrates just some of the amazing cookie artists working at the moment.
Created by Sally Fraise of Sweetiedoodle, Self Portrait of a Cookier features the work of fourteen incredible artists and they were all asked to make one cookie that was 5in x7in in size and standing up in portrait style as if it were a painting on canvas hanging in an art gallery.
I loved this one by Shelby Bower of Shelby Elizabeth Cakes, whose inspiration was her imagination.
Sally hoped that it would be a good way to have each person stretch their skills and abilities and dig a little into themselves in order to express and show themselves to the world.
Sally also asked each artist for a photo of them working on their piece, as she is always interested in how others work and setup their workspace. Along with their final piece and their headshot, Sally asked two questions of each cookier, so that we could get to know even more about them and their art. She also asked them, ‘why are you a cookier?’ and ‘what other artist mediums do you like to work in besides cookie?’
You can check out the rest of the pieces in the collection over on their Facebook page and if you would like to contribute a piece yourself, then I am told that the project is ongoing. To get involved, you can contact Sally via her own Facebook page.
The Cake Page Circle Collaboration Group also published their latest collection this week, CPC’s Pirates of the Caribbean Collaboration.
Representing the work of seventeen talented sugar artists from all over the world, all of whom are members of the various CPC groups.
They came together to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the release of the first film in the series, ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl’.
They invite you to visit their dedicated collaboration page over on Facebook, where you can see the rest of the fabulous pieces in the collection, find progress photos of many of them and discover how you can get involved in future CPC collaborations.
Spotlight on the boys…
Speaking of the Great British Bake Off, this week I discovered that everyone’s favourite GBBO illusion cake maker is still at it, sharing his elaborate creations on his social media channels.
I had followed Steven Carter-Bailey on Twitter for some time but hadn’t realised that he also had a Facebook page.
It is great to see that he is still creating his awesome sculpted cakes – sorry Illusion Cakes, as well as finding time to share his more traditional cakes, his own recipes and the details of his public appearances and demonstrations at various baking and foodie events.
You can find his page here – why not head over and show him some love…
Cake of the Week!
I think it’s pretty common knowledge now that I am fairly pug-obsessed.
What people might not know is that I am also a bit of a fan of mythical creatures – but then, I suppose what cake artist isn’t? Their ability to stir up the imagination has endured for many hundreds of years for a reason.
As a result, when I saw this awesome mash up by Claire Townsend Mays of Amaysing Bakes by Claire, it was a ‘shoo in’ for this week’s Cake of the Week.
Created for Claire’s daughter’s 14th birthday, the ‘Mermapug’ truly encapsulates the best of both worlds and I think it should totally catch on as the next craze – once we’re done with unicorns of course.
Congratulations on a fabulous Cake of the Week, Claire and the happiest of birthday wishes to your daughter!
If you don’t know the lovely and talented Tina Scott Parashar of Tina Scott Parashar’s Cake Design, then you might have missed the awesome results of her recent visit to the UK.
During her stay here, Tina spent some time with Emma Jayne of Emma Jayne Cake Design, learning how to recreate her incredible life-size Avatar figure, ‘Neytiri’ using RKT sculpting and bringing her to life using Renshaw Extra sugarpaste, modelling paste and chocolate modelling paste during a private three-day class.
I’m sure you’ll agree that Tina did a smashing job. And now I totally want to do this class with Emma too!
To find out more about classes with Emma Jayne Cake Design, you can contact her media agent, Sweet Media Solutions.
Tina then headed off to see Claire Anderson at the Clairella Cakes stunning teaching space, where she took Claire’s fabulous Magical Mermaid class.
I have had my own eye on this class for a while now and, again, I think Tina did a wonderful job – but then I wouldn’t expect anything less. Could you imagine being a fly on the wall watching such talents at work?
If you would like to book a class with Clairella Cakes, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
I hope that Tina had a fabulous visit to the UK and that she enjoyed her fabulously inspirational classes. I can’t wait to see how she incorporates her new skills into her existing repertoire.
And another honourable mention…
Have you seen my buddy Hannah Edwards AKA The Cake Illusionist’s recent video for DESSERT INSIDER yet?
The video features Hannah crafting a super quick version of one of her stunning dog cakes – in only five hours!
It has already received in excess of EIGHT MILLION views at the time of writing and I am thrilled that Hannah is getting so much recognition.
As always, the sight of one of Hannah’s super realistic pups being sliced apart has brought the ‘outraged of the internets’ out in force and I was in tears of laughter reading some of the crazy comments.
Have a look if you are brave enough – you can find the video here, but just remember: DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!
Don’t forget to get in touch this week to tell me all about what your corner of the cake world is talking about; to share which tools or products you are loving this week; to tell me about any exciting events or classes you have coming up; to share any recipes or tutorials you have discovered this week and are dying to try; and about anything else that has grabbed your attention on Planet Cake.
And of course, don’t forget to nominate your suggestions for the Cake of the Week. Maybe it’s one you have seen or perhaps it’s one of your own!
You can submit your contributions by messaging my Facebook page, by posting in the dedicated Mr Baker’s Blog from Mr Baker’s Cakes Facebook group or by emailing me directly.
I look forward to hearing from you!