Posts Tagged ‘Steenbergs’

Steenbergs Becomes Kosher Certified

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

We’ve been working during the last few years on upping our game in our certifications.  It’s alright saying that Steenbergs is good at this and that, but quite another thing to prove it.

In 2016, we began working on both halal and kosher certification.  So far, we have completed kosher certification with the London Beth Din (Kosher London Beth Din) – finalised on 16 December and confirmed 3 January 2017.

After an audit visit and lot of paper trails to be proved, this has enabled over 250 products to achieve kosher certification.  At the start, we won’t have any logo showing that our products are kosher certified, but as new labels are printed we will be incorporating the KLBD logo for certified lines.  This will begin with a rebranding of the organic extracts range in the first half of 2017.

Now, we’ve started on halal certification with Halal Certification Europe.  Because of a different methodology , it means that only those products we blend can be certified and so it will be a much, much shorter list.

At Steenbergs, the key theme is that we must be able to demonstrate that we both appreciate and are addressing customer’s differing requirements for Steenbergs herb, spice and tea products.  This is not only about environmental (Organic) and social (Fairtrade; SEDEX), but also about religious and other ethical factors.

We will address vegan and/or vegetarian in the near future, but have slightly put that to the back of the queue because Steenbergs’ products are plant-based and we seek (so far as possible) to ensure no animal products are used in fertilisers.

Steenbergs Phone Lines – Update

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Finally, we’re almost at the end of the saga of Steenbergs’ phone lines.  After complaining to BT’s Chief Executive, because none of our other complaints succeeded in getting any traction, we have been slowly moving towards achieving what we originally ordered in May this year.

Yesterday, the ISDN lines were completed (2 lines, 4 channels), the switch and phones completed and the Internet phone set-up (Avaya switch and phones); we’ve had 80GB optical fibre installed direct to both units for really fast broadband.  We are not actually moving the phone numbers over until 16 December, so the new system is on a dummy number for the moment.

But after 7 months, we may finally get a functional phone and broadband system – it’s been a long gestation period with lots of turbulence along the way, but hopefully it will be worth the wait.  Not a bad level of technology for rural North Yorkshire.

Win one of the Steenbergs New Taste of the Far East Gift Bags

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

 

 

Click here to view this promotion.

Dear BT, Are You Still There?

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Dear BT

Please BT can we have our phone line back. You tried to transfer our phones to a new building (11 Hallikeld Close) last week but could not do the engineering work, so we arranged for a divert on our lines to a mobile; mobile signal is not great out here in the styx, but it allowed us to keep going.  But now you’ve cut us off, deleting our phone number of many years, a typing error no doubt in one of your databases.  Can we have our number back, please, that would be a great start?

Please BT could you, also, ring us back.  We’ve been trying to talk with you for over a week now, but strangely your phones don’t seem to work and we never get the promised for call backs.  It seems you’re not happy to talk things through, or sort out the mess you’ve made with the business move – to me it seems quite simple, if only you’d let us explain.  I did manage to speak to the Project Manager briefly, but he said he’d something Higher Priority to do – thanks, that was a special moment – and then deleted our phone number.  Must be something we did.

Please could you check the contract we signed with BT back in May.  You don’t seem to be able to find it, but I’ve got a copy that shows me what we ordered quite clearly; it came by email.  Your accounts team seem to have a copy because they’ve been billing us and taking the cash by direct debit straightaway for the kit we’ve not got (Avaya system and phones) and the service we’ve never been provided.  I can even give your the contract number.

Let’s just talk.  But don’t ring our phone number, because you cut that off.  Perhaps a letter would be best, because I don’t seem to get your emails either.

Thanks.

Steenbergs

PS The broadband’s great.  Just need voice to be routed down the fibre.

 

UPDATE on 21 September 2016 

We have our phone number back – hooray. This is currently being routed through Sophie’s mobile phone but at least no longer getting this number is not recognised! Temporarily we’ve switched our fax line to being a phone line so if you’d like to call us we’re on 01765 640101. There is a plan in place to sort the whole system out, but no timeframe as yet. Please bear with us. We are still here and are doing our best to respond in a timely fashion.

Chemical Analysis of Steenbergs Organic Rose Water

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

We are often asked quite detailed technical questions about Steenbergs’ organic rose water.  In particular:

  • What type of water is used? Tap water
  • Is the water distilled water? Yes
  • Does the water contain pesticides or heavy metals? No
Steenbergs Organic Rose Water

Steenbergs Organic Rose Water

Firstly, the rose water is organic and distilled from organic rose petals picked and processed in the Rose Valley of Bulgaria.  It is certified as organic by Ceres, a German certification agency.  So it is grown and processed in an organic way, however that (as many customers keep telling me) does not preclude contamination from other surrounding farmland, so see below.

Secondly, on the water itself, the water used is standard potable water, i.e. it’s not borehole water or the like, but a “tap water” and this meets EU government guidelines on drinking water.

However, in the process, the water is distilled through a double water-vapour distillation process – the first is a standard distillation through a still, and the second runs the distillate a second time but this time through a cohabation column.  So in answer to the question, the water in the rose water is distilled.

This second distillation concentrates the flavour by roughly ten times, and is called “cohabation” – the rose oil tends to float on the top of the distillate so this second distillation dissolves more of this floral flavour into Steenbergs rose water.  For reference: 1.4kg of fresh rose petals yields 1kg of rose water.

Thirdly, as for the possibility for contamination of the water, our most recent tests of the organic rose water are as below and they contain no pesticides, agrochemicals and the levels of heavy metals are well within guidelines:

  Steenbergs Organic Rose Water UK Drinking Water Standards What standard used?
Pesticides Not detected 0.5 µg/l EU Directive 98/83/EC
Agrochemicals:
  Nitrates 0.4 mg/l 50 mg/l EU Directive 98/83/EC
  Nitrites <0.01 mg/l 0.50 mg/l EU Directive 98/83/EC
Plant treatments:
  Chlorates <2 µg/l <10 µg/l EU Recommendation 2015/682
  Perchlorates <0.5 µg/l <10 µg/l EU Recommendation 2015/682
Metals/heavy metals:
  Aluminium <2 µg/l <200 µg/l UK National Requirements
  Arsenic 1.40 µg/l <10 µg/l EU Directive 98/83/EC
  Cadmium 0.01 µg/l <5 µg/l EU Directive 98/83/EC
  Copper 0.09 mg/l <2 mg/l EU Directive 98/83/EC
  Iron 37.06 µg/l <200 µg/l UK National Requirements
  Lead 5.62 µg/l <10 µg/l EU Directive 98/83/EC
  Manganese 4.46 µg/l <50 µg/l UK National Requirements
  Molybdenum <0.03 µg/l No standard
  Nickel 4.05 µg/l <20 µg/l EU Directive 98/83/EC
  Selenium 0.48 µg/l <10 µg/l EU Directive 98/83/EC
  Zinc 191.14 µg/l No standard*

*there is a complex proposed standard that proposes 10.9 bioavailable plus Ambient Background Concentration (μg/l) dissolved that I really don’t understand, while Australia and Canada have limits of 3 – 5 mg/l (5000 µg/l).

Update on 11 Hallikeld Close

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Slow, very slow progress, since my June update.  Basically, it’s just been a staircase that meets building regulations and finishing off the mezzanine floor.

But the white food-grade walls were delivered today from Hemsec Panel Technologies, so the new tea-packing room should constructed by Friday.  All we’ll then be waiting for is to complete the rooms is a gully drain to be cut out and connected, then a blue resin floor can be laid and plumbing fitted.

The tea packing machine is due for early September.  I am not sure it will get through the doors into the building, but everyone is telling me it’ll be fine – let’s see what happens then, shall we.

Some photos:

Go Fresh with Meera Sodha’s new cookbook

Monday, July 25th, 2016

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707What strikes you first about Meera Sodha’s new cookbook FRESH INDIA, is the vibrant colour: orange and green for the cover and a bright pink inlay, intertwined with bold Indian prints and photos of mouth-watering cuisine.

Following her successful debut book MADE IN INDIA, Meera’s second book, published by Fig Tree London (£20), is a collection of 130 ‘quick, easy and delicious vegetarian recipes for every day’. It includes sections on everything from Starters & Snacks; Rice; Pulses; Squashes and Pickles & Chutneys to a great chapter dedicated to the humble Aubergine.  Interspersed within the food groupings are handy chapters on Menu Ideas and Presentation Skills – invaluable for making your homemade curry look appetising for Instagram!

RAINBOW.CHARD.SAAGALOO0030

Rainbow Chard Saag Aloo

Meera talks candidly about her life growing up as a Gujarati in Lincolnshire, of family recipes and traditions and above all a life filled with delicious fresh vegetables.  Her recipes use herbs and spices to enhance the flavours in a huge variety of vegetables. Using different blends of traditional Indian spices such as black mustard seeds, chilli, cumin, coriander and turmeric in her Rainbow Chard Saag Aloo and Baked Onion Bhajis, and adding in the ‘subtle jabs’ of star anise, lemon and curry leaves in her nostalgic Gujarati Dal.

GUJURATI DAL eps

Gujarati Dal

BAKED ONION BHAJIS

Baked Onion Bhajis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the recipes looked really inviting but the baking ones are always the most appealing, especially now the children are off for the school holidays.  We decided to try the Banana & Cardamom Buns for a weekend brunch and they did not disappoint.

IMG_1027

Not overly sweet, but with a lovely subtle hint of cardamom, these were loved by adults and children alike. They were delicious eaten fresh from the oven with a cup of coffee, but also in a more English way halved and buttered like a scone or with, dare I say it…Nutella!

IMG_1027We were a little free with the quantities, having added 2 whole bananas, but some extra flour and a little extra yeast made for a sticky but manageable dough which rose well during the proving stage. You could have ground your own cardamom pods but we used the handy Steenbergs organic ground cardamom.

Our buns definitely didn’t look as round and pretty as the picture in the book but the egg wash gave them a lovely crust and the soft bready texture was delicious.

Definitely one to add to the repertoire!

 

Working organically with Abel & Cole for 10 years

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Started 27 years ago, with the vision of supplying ethically sourced, high quality food and drink to people who care about the provenance of what they eat, Abel & Cole has gone from strength to strength.  It now delivers boxes of fruit and veg as well as organic milk, bread, eggs and meat to many parts of the country.  They deliver as far north as York, but just use the postcode finder on their website to check whether they deliver to your door: http://www.abelandcole.co.uk/help/faqMedium Everyday Easy Fruit & Veg Box

“It all started with a chap named Keith and a bag of spuds in 1988. He realised the huge benefits of going organic and never looked back. In fact, we still get veg from the farm where Keith’s first organic spuds came from”, say Abel & Cole.

Steenbergs and Abel & Cole share a common passion for all things organic. Both believe that organic farming is best for the environment, the wildlife and ultimately our own diets. Abel & Cole’s mantra is ‘grow slow’, which is an ethos shared by Steenbergs and the small independent producers that they use all around the world.

Steenbergs has been organic since it was founded in 2003 by husband and wife team Axel & Sophie Steenberg.  Their vision of supplying organic herbs and spices also led to them becoming Fairtrade for tea in 2004 and ultimately being the pioneers for the first Fairtrade spices into the UK in 2005.

“We’ve been working with Abel & Cole for over a decade,” says Axel.  “We started off supplying  small amounts of organic spices, but have recently added mini organic spice jars to their recipe boxes, and are now supplying our regular spice jars, vanilla extract and pods for sale in Abel & Cole’s Grocery Pantry.” http://www.abelandcole.co.uk/groceries/pantry/dried-herbs-spicesabel & cole recipe box

Abel & Cole use Steenbergs spice jars in the recipe boxes to add flavour and excitement to their recipes. To make the most of the flavoursome seasonal lettuces available at the moment, why not try Abel & Cole’s recipes for courgette falafel with peanut dip, spiced up with Steenbergs garam masala and coriander seeds? http://www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes/courgette-falafels-peanut-dip

Look out for our Abel & Cole competition coming up this month, with the chance for one lucky winner to win a month’s worth of veg boxes (a total of 4 of any size). A great way to make sure you have your 5-a-day!

abel_cole_logo_may-2015 - ONLINE

Steenbergs: progress at 11 Hallikeld Close

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Progress on Steenbergs’ new factory is moving along decently since April.  The joists have been put in for the second floor and most of the flooring.

The building work has created a mass of extra space that can be used to store our tea.  Building control have agreed the structural calculations, standards for fire rating and the shape and positioning of the staircase to the second floor.

We should get delivery this week of a new labelling machine from Norpak in Bradford to help with the growth in demand for our organic spices and seasonings – especially the mini jars that are going well in Abel & Cole’s recipe boxes and for gifts sets.  A new packing machine is also being built for us at Gainsborough Engineering in Lincolnshire which should help underpin interest in Steenbergs loose leaf teas and herbal teas.

A couple of photos are below:

Brexit, Steenbergs and the future

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

While I had been nervously expecting that Brexit result, it’s not until you hear it that the impact really hits you.  And while it remains a shock, we must look forward and deal with the additional risks that it throws at us, as well as seek out those opportunities that we have been told are on the horizon.

I voted for Remain for myself, for my children and for the business, and live in one of the few regions outside of Scotland, Northern Ireland and London that voted to Remain.  Brexit will be narrow the opportunities for everyone, but especially the young.  But we lost, that’s democracy, and it’s time to move on – you can’t undo a result you don’t like, because that’s undemocratic, abuses the just rights of those that voted to Leave and makes a mockery of the British – and yet I really, really don’t like this result.

So what to do.  It’s time to get down into the detail, and to hold those that pushed to Leave to deliver on their promises.  But I expect there to be a wide gap between the promises and reality – few savings and no extra cash for public services nor it even appears cuts in immigration because the labour provided by Poles, the Latvians etc is needed.  And we have many “Europeans” as relatives (my mum, aunts, uncles and cousins), friends and colleagues and we will do everything possible to protect us and them from any impact from Brexit, especially xenophobia.

But back to Steenbergs.

Firstly, as a food business that mainly sells into the UK, but largely imports raw materials and packaging from the EU and exports into the EU, as well as with India and Sri Lanka etc etc, I would like to know what the new legislation is going to be.

Why?  Because the whole of Steenbergs’ business is dependent on and completely based on primary regulation from the EU as is the UK food industry.  There is effectively no UK food legislation.  These regulations cover food safety, food labelling, food information, allergen declarations, organic imports/exports/manufacturing, food packaging, waste regulations, chemical residues in food whether from pesticides, mycotoxins etc etc.  We’re designing new packaging – what will the new UK labelling rules be?  The current regulations are not onerous, are good and protect customers and the give us safe food to eat each and every day, and they work from Ireland to Romania.

Also, not only is food and drink the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, but 75% of UK food and drink exports go to the EU (or £18.3 billion); the sector employs 3.8 million people, or 14% of all UK employment (IGD, 2015) – so how the UK government deals with this is vital for real people and their livelihoods.

When will this new legislation come into place and how will it differ?

Secondly, we want to continue to buy from the EU and sell into the EU.  What are the terms of this trade deal going to be?  What extra paperwork will there be?  My accountant will want to know how to treat VAT, or even if our whole accounting package is now redundant.  And so on and so on.

Ultimately, while the politicos say be patient.  I cannot wait 2 years for the politicians to plan, negotiate etc as we have staff that need to know next week what this means for them, and our current investment plans must now be put on hold while we wait for the powers that be work it all out.  We say get a move on.

Our suspicion is that the EU legislation will just become UK legislation and, for Steenbergs to be able to trade with our EU friends, we will need to meet EU rules and regulations for all the above (Soil Association, 2016).  So what’s it going to be.  Our guess: it will be business as beforehand with some wrinkles from the new empowered Westminster government (ex Scotland), but (and here’s the rub) Steenbergs and all but the smallest food businesses will still need to meet all (and we mean all) the EU food and packaging legislation, but our honourable friends in Westminster or our Eurocrats will not be at the negotiating table to determine what those rules are.

What will be the longer-term impact? Overall, I suspect not that much, except less control over how we run our business, plus a few extra hoops to jump through.  That’s less freedom and accountability, not more.

So let’s get down to it, and make the best of what this new path throws at us.  Finally, I doubt that I will ever forget those who took us down this wrong path.

Reference

IGD (2015) The UK’s food and drink industry, accessed 25 June 2016
Sawyer, M. (2016) Soil Association Certification and the EU Referendum, The Soil Associations, 24 June 2016, accessed 8 July 2016