Raquel Picornell is the founder and CEO of Allergen Free Mexico, conceived in 2019 to raise the profile of gluten and food allergies in Mexico to ensure care and support to people who suffer from food allergies and other illnesses that require special diets while instilling healthy, climatarian eating habits based on the authentic Mexican Diet. Her focus aims to catapult Mexico as the most inclusive culinary destination in the world.
Raquel is an economic journalist who has spent two decades conducting country branding and international business diplomacy projects.
We are so excited about the work Raquel is doing in Mexico and asked her a series of questions about how she came to be a strong voice in the industry, how she discovered MenuTrinfo® and what her goals are for keeping diners with food allergies in Mexico safe. With this partnership we are able to bring the amazing benefits of Certified Free From™ to Mexico.
How did you discover MenuTrinfo® and what prompted this partnership?
I had scoured the industry for solutions to fit the Allergen Free Mexico remit and MenuTrinfo® essentially encompassed everything we had set out to achieve. Plus, it has a decade of experience in the growing gluten-free, allergen-free and special diets universe!
How do you think this partnership and bringing Certified Free From™ audits to Mexico will benefit those suffering with food allergies?
We aim to make a huge difference for those will food allergies and special diets given the misinformation and lack of rigor. On the other hand, we would like to make an impression on the nation’s dietary habits trying to promote overall healthier, natural home-grown produce towards the fight against obesity, diabetes and hypertension
Why and how did you become a leader in the food allergy community?
As a celiac, since setting foot in Mexico in 2002 I considered it paradise given its naturally gluten-free gastronomy based on corn, beans and a myriad of other gluten-free delicacies. Throughout maternity my baby suffered allergic reactions to dairy and, once again, the traditional diet provided me with rich, delicious alternatives to make up for cow’s milk. So, I just felt this urge to be able to highlight the goodness of this diet while providing a structure and community for people with nutritional challenges and/or dietary trends.
How has the food & beverage and hospitality industry changed regarding handling food allergies since the start of Allergen Free Mexico?
Allergen Free Mexico provides an extraordinary opportunity for cooperation amongst competitors in the food industry, with national and multinational food manufacturing and marketing companies, throughout the whole value chain liaising to inform, manage and eliminate the risks to consumers from food allergens in manufactured foods. It is still early days, but we trust that leading supermarket chains, restaurants, and health and education canteens will jump in so that we can jointly ensure eating in Mexico becomes much safer. Furthermore, we strive to catapult Mexico as a global gastronomic destination for visitors seeking special diets and superfoods.
How do you foresee the Mexican market adapting to the “New Normal” post COVID-19?
In line with global trends, food security is paramount and therefore the consumer will value traceability and transparency more. Overall, we expect the following four areas to gain weight:
- Increased concern for health foods and diets that strengthen the immune system
- Vegetable protein and plant-based diets to shift animal-based produce as an overall consideration to health, cost and environment
- E-commerce revolution whereby distribution chains will team up with delivery companies to meet demand
- Sustainability will remain to rank high on consumer’s decision-making
All of which match Allergen Free Mexico’s projection beautifully so we believe we can assist in contributing towards a much-needed difference.
What is your favorite gluten and allergen free food or dish?
Given that I am Spanish, I would have to confess paella is my favorite gluten, dairy and egg free dish of all times. However, in Mexico, everything from guacamole to tacos to pastel Azteca as savory options are excellent gluten-free and sometimes dairy, meat and fish free options. Chocolate tamales (tamales filled with chocolate) are a great gluten, dairy and egg free dessert or snack.
What is the most rewarding professional experience you would like to share with us?
I would like Allergen Free Mexico to become my most rewarding experience. My goal is to be able to inform, guide and assist people with food allergies and other food related issues on how to enjoy delicious, natural food without having to skimp or feel left-out and/or marginalized due to misinformation and poor options.
Keep an eye out for more exciting developments from Allergen Free Mexico and MenuTrinfo® as we develop the Certified Free From™ offerings in this incredible country.