Our Founder is Crowned "Food Defender of the Year" at New Food's Apples Awards | Allergy Companions

News 02.11.2023

Earlier in October, our Founder Liljia attended the Food Integrity Global conference in London organised by New Food.

The event was designed to bring together some of the greatest minds in the industry to discuss and solve some of the largest challenges facing the food sector. 

At the end of the first day, New Food hosted their first Apples Awards to celebrate a wealth of excellence, innovation and responsible development in the industry and reward those particularly deserving of recognition.

Awards Categories

The five award categories at the Apples Awards were as follows:

Innovator of the Year – An individual or business who has demonstrated outstanding creativity, originality, and innovation within the food and beverage sector in 2022/23. This award celebrates those who have shown a commitment to pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo, while also delivering real-world impact and practical solutions to complex problems. Sponsored by TraceGains.

Food and Beverage Manufacturer of the Year – A chance to celebrate a food and drink manufacturer that has stood out in the industry and embodied the spirit of integrity in everything that they do. Sponsored by Merck.

Sustainable Company of the Year – A company operating in the food and beverage sector which has enacted significant change in 2022/23 to enable us to continue to feed our population safely and securely into the future, while protecting our planet. Sponsored by Quor.

Lab of the Year – A food and beverage laboratory that has significantly contributed to the defence of our food system in 2022/23. Sponsored by Nemis.

Food Defender of the Year – An individual who embodies the spirit of food integrity and has consistently protected our food system, through one or more actions in 2022/23. Sponsored by Intertek.

Food Defender of the Year – Liljia Polo-Richards

This category was a particularly tough one, as we were up against some incredible candidates, including the CEO of Shield Safety, Mark Flanagan.

On stage to reveal the winner for this category was Professor Chris Elliott, Professor of Food Safety at Queens’ University Belfast and New Food’s trusted food fraud expert who, in himself, serves as a real inspiration to many in the industry.

Elliot announced that the winner for this category was Liljia Polo Richards, the Founder and CEO of Allergy Companions. Liljia was described as “someone who has developed tools to rank and review hospitality venues depending on how well they manage allergens. These tools are used by those living with food hypersensitivity to allow them to find trusted eating venues, as well as for businesses to understand how other companies are meeting the mark when it comes to allergen safety.”

Sharing her excitement on social media, Liljia said: “Whilst I am still pretty speechless, I cannot thank enough the judges that voted for me and all the people that support my work and mission.  It’s amazing to be recognised for the work I do in the food allergy space and I am so excited to be involved in some exciting projects.”

Grace Galler of New Food spoke to Polo-Richards after she received her award and was told: “Winning this award means a lot to me, both on a professional and personal level. My website started as a review platform to help the allergy community dine out with more confidence, and since our launch we’ve evolved into something even more valuable.”

“I have developed a strong understanding of the challenges that the hospitality sector faces in this space, and I hold a very unique and valuable understanding of the customer perspective. This enables me to work with hospitality businesses and advise them on how to create and develop a culture where their staff not only understand the importance of catering for dietary restrictions, but also truly care. 

I am passionate about bringing positive transformation to this space and changing the perception of allergies for both businesses and consumers.”

Thank you

Thank you to our followers, readers and businesses that support our ongoing work and mission.

We would not be here today without your help and cannot thank you enough.