With a background as a professional pastry chef and a graduate of the International Culinary Institute in New York City, Cathy Icardo founded Cottage Sweets in 2009. The company produce a range of luxury marshmallows in flavours such as ginger, lemon-thyme and coconut. Having moved to Wales from the United States to be closer to her family, Cathy initially started production from her home kitchen before expanding into a manufacturing unit in Caldicot in early 2018.
To grow her business further, Cathy recognised that she would need third party accreditation, a requirement for many larger wholesale customers. So, Cottage Sweets approached ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre for support with Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) certification.
Support from ZERO2FIVE
When Cottage Sweets started work with ZERO2FIVE in July 2018, they had no systems in place to meet the requirements of SALSA.
Through knowledge transfer and mentoring from a ZERO2FIVE technologist, Cottage Sweets were supported to put in place Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and food safety, hygiene, labelling and quality management systems that are based on the requirements of SALSA Issue 5.
Prior to the company’s SALSA audit, ZERO2FIVE carried out a pre-audit. A ZERO2FIVE technologist identified gaps in the company’s procedures and standards and recommended a list of actions which needed to be put in place to become SALSA compliant.
In November 2018, just five months after starting work with ZERO2FIVE, Cottage Sweets passed their SALSA audit.
Benefits of the support
SALSA certification has given Cottage Sweets access to a range of potential wholesale customers who will be confident they are purchasing from a company which has the systems in place to make a safe, legal and quality product.
Whilst Cottage Sweets was in the process of working towards SALSA accreditation, they secured a contract with a major luxury hotel and convention centre to supply marshmallows for their Christmas hampers. The work Cottage Sweets had already done with ZERO2FIVE on labelling, product specifications and traceability was essential to make this happen.