Rolkem - yes or no - the results

Rolkem - the results are in . . .

February 2019

As we've previously explained, Rolkem products were removed from sale by Cake Stuff in May 2018 following our investigations and independent testing that showed they contained unapproved ingredients and that their ingredients labelling was incorrect and misleading.  For several weeks prior to this, Cake Stuff had been selling all Rolkem products as 'non-edible'.  The Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued a 'FAFA Notice' (Food Alert For Action) on 10th July 2018 which made it illegal to sell or use Rolkem products, regardless whether treated as edible or non-edible.  No ifs, no buts, no exceptions . . . it was simply illegal

Not every UK stockist respected the FSA's ruling and a couple continued to sell Rolkem products, eventually re-classifying them as 'non-edible'.  Not only was this illegal at the time, it created confusion where there should have been none, with some customers assuming Rolkem had fixed the problem and everything was safe to use again

In late 2018, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) decided to back Environmental Health Officers in Essex when they decided to allow Rolkem products to be used on 'fake cakes' (their words) and other items that were not intended to be eaten, like cake toppers.  Cake Stuff have spent some time since trying to have this position clarified and recently our own Environmental Health Officer confirmed that Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the FSA had confirmed the decision and that Rolkem products could now be sold as 'non-edible'

This put us in a slightly uncomfortable position . . . on the one hand we had tens of thousands of pounds' worth of Rolkem stock that we knew many customers wanted; on the other hand we had no intention of ever dealing with Rolkem again as they had consistently proved themselves untrustworthy.  Cake Stuff are one of only two UK retailers who invited our customers to return any Rolkem products for a full credit.  Rolkem made no such offer and have made no attempt to assist their stockists with returned stock or with the mountains of products they were unable to sell legally


having your say . . .

We recently sent an email newsletter to all subscribed customers, asking what they thought about the idea of us selling off all remaining stocks as non-edible sugarcraft dusts, lustres and glitters

We were a little surprised at the response, as it was overwhelmingly positive

We took the time to read every comment left and, although few in number, the customers who voiced reservations about us selling Rolkem made some really interesting points so we felt it only right that we try and respond to some of those, rather than it possibly appear we were just trying to ignore any negative comments.  Please see a few of these points discussed below

We're not trying to promote Rolkem as a brand and we're certainly not trying to talk anyone in to buying these products, so if you have any concerns at all about using Rolkem products, we would simply suggest that you don't order any - that way there can be no confusion or misunderstanding.  There are some good alternatives to Rolkem products that are 100% edible, including Faye Cahill, Sugarflair, Colour Splash, Rainbow Dust and others, so there's no reason at all why anyone should feel somehow compelled to buy Rolkem because they feel there are no other options available

We have been very open about the situation and are trying to be exceptionally clear about how Rolkem products can now be sold and used on dummy cakes, exhibition & display pieces, practice cakes and other sugarcraft items that are not intended to be eaten

They are unequivocally non-edible and should not be used on any product that is intended for consumption

The stocks we have are being over-labelled to highlight this.  Best Before dates are now completely irrelevant

Out of 1,163 replies to the little survey, 87% were positive - ie customers said that they would be happy to order Rolkem products from Cake Stuff again.  That was a surprisingly large majority but, as we said above, some of the comments left were very interesting and worth repeating here, so here are the points that were made most often (combined from multiple comments and paraphrased to make easier reading) . . .


Cake Stuff should not sell anything that is not edible

Non-edible sugarcraft products have been around for years (some for decades) . . . Sugarflair Craft Dusting Powders, Claire Bowman (Cake Lace) Decorative Metallic Lustre, Rainbow Dust Hologram, Pastel and Jewel ranges, among others.  Non-edible sugarcraft products are an established part of the cake decorating range with specific roles to play, and reputable manufacturers have always marketed and labelled these products very clearly


Mistakes can be made - a cake maker may use Rolkem as an edible product in error

This follows on from the point above that non-edible sugarcraft products are not a new phenomenon, so the risk of making mistakes already exists.  Sorry if it sounds a little unsympathetic, but mistakes shouldn't be made.  Professionals already know this, but cake makers are responsible for ensuring they use all products / ingredients in a safe way at all times.  We feel it is virtually impossible to order any Rolkem products from our website without realising that they are non-edible, plus additional labelling on pots reminds even the most novice cake decorator aware that the products are non-edible


Some cake makers will ignore the advice and use as 'edible'

Yes, that's very true.  Some cake makers already use as Rainbow Dust Hologram as cupcake sprinkles or don't bother supplying allergy information with their cakes.  There will always be people who take this kind of short-cut approach to making cakes - we certainly don't condone it but we can't police it either.  We provide very clear information and the pots will have new added labels stating the product is non-edible


I wouldn't use something on a dummy cake that I couldn't use on the real cake - customers may feel misled that their cake can't look exactly the same as the dummy

A very good point (and the one made most often).  This refers to dummy cakes being used in the way that most of us would think of - having a dummy wedding cake on display at a hotel wedding show, for example, to encourage orders.  Not all dummy cakes are made for that reason of course (there are various exhibition, display and practice cakes, cake toppers, sugarcraft models and flowers etc) but it's a really good point so the choice of whether-or-not to use Rolkem products on the dummy cake will obviously be down to the cake maker and we understand why many customers will prefer not to use Rolkem products in this way


I didn't think Cake Stuff would ever deal with Rolkem again after everything that happened last year

We're not!  We will never re-stock Rolkem products - ie we will never order new stock from Rolkem.  What we are proposing to do is to sell off the tens of thousands of pounds' worth of stock we were left with when Rolkem walked away and left their UK stockists to carry the can.  We will never replenish any of this stock - once it's gone it is gone for good


Isn't this just a repeat of the EdAble Art situation a few years ago?

Similar, but not quite.  The difference there was that EdAble Art were actively selling their products as 'edible' so most customers had bought products from them direct, either on-line or at cake shows.  The clue was in the name (Edable, not Edible).  Cake Stuff have never stocked EdAble Art but we totally agree there's a similarity with Rolkem . . . both brands showed such contempt for their customers that their reputations were damaged beyond repair


Cake Stuff should take the moral high ground and not stock Rolkem again

This is the difficult one.  Again, we want to point out that we're not re-stocking Rolkem - we're only selling off the products we have been left with.  There's no way to avoid the fact that it has become a moral issue and we recognise this.  However, we're confident that the way we handled the situation, the way we tried to keep our customers fully informed of developments and our offer to allow customers to return Rolkem products for a full credit, all show that we acted from the outset in a totally honest, ethical and transparent manner

An interesting side-point is that these rules all apply to the UK but we have thousands of customers in other countries, and in many of these countries Rolkem can still be bought as 'edible'.  We don't agree with that but there's very little we can do about it, other than highlight our findings to all our customers so that they can make an informed choice

Selling off remaining stock certainly doesn't seem 'immoral' - we're being clear about what the stock is and how it should be used.  As the FSA say it can be sold as 'non-edible' and a lot of customers have been asking for it, there seems to be a simple solution presenting itself that could help everyone.  Again, customers who prefer not to touch the Rolkem brand again don't have to order any, so no-one's conscience should feel compromised



And then there were the comments from customers who voted 'yes'.  Hundreds and hundreds of them (and we read every one!), so here are a few copied at random.  We've not chosen these for any particular reason nor have we edited them in any way - they just represent a taste of the overall feeling . . .


You’ve made it pretty clear they are not for consumption x

As long as it is marked clearly on the products for dummy cakes or non-edible items I can't see the harm.

I don’t know what all the fuss is about! I’ve always told people not to eat them and used on sugar flowers as they can’t be eaten due to the wire in them! So no problem!

Would love the opportunity to buy some of your Rolken stock.

I’m all for them being used on Dummy cakes

It would be bad for the environment to simply throw away the products instead of selling them - but you should definitely put "NON-EDIBLE" stickers on each pot (maybe even with a skull-and-crossbones or similar symbol) to ensure that even non-readers will be aware of their use.

Id be happy to use it on non edible work as i love the finish Rolkem produces

I would use them for display and dummy cakes

For decoration purposes only

The intensity of colour and coverage would make these well worth the money for the non-edible parts of cakes. I'd definitely buy

We think its a great idea as long as they are labelled correctly, we will be interested in buying them too

Sell with a disclaimer included no matter what!

There are many occasions to use non edible items for decoration purposes and I would be happy to use this product.

they can be used on flowers or items on cakes that are not meant to be eaten

Yes,I would use for display pieces. You have made it more than abundantly clear that the products are not for consumption, so people should understand that. You have been most honorable throughout this situation (unlike Rolkem)

I would use them for dummy cakes and other craft projects, as i know they are non edible thats fine as the crafts i do are non edible anyway. Obviously wouldnt use it on any cakes to be consumed. So Yea please i would support you and purchase a large quantity as i do lots of crafts ????

Definitely; there is no other product like it for lustre and coverage - ideal for display cakes

Yes of course, everyone knows now not to use them on edible items.

: There may be people jumping on the panic bandwagon because they are used to buying Rolkem as an edible product. You'd just have to be super clear on the website that it is now classed as non-edible. I don't see why you should lose money on all of your stock when there is a market out there for non-edible products. As you say, exhibitions, fake cakes etc. I don't take part in anything like that so personally I'll just steer clear of it. However, if I did, I would buy it.

I do think they should be labelled non edible, and can see no reason why they cant be sold as such

I still have my original colours and dusts and use for cold porcelain flowers and models

As long as you have clearly stated on your packaging that it is non-edible then I dont see why you can re-sell these products. I am surprised that all the products you purchased were not recalled by Rolkem themselves but I would purchase them and use them on dummies as long as there was another product that could match that colour on the market in case customers wanted that effect. I hope this helps

Would it be possible to add a label that stated NON EDIBLE in big black letters to make sure that people pay attention.

Answer: YES
Comments: However - all well and good having a lovely dummy cake but this just sets unrealistic expectations for customers and you then have to tell them they actually can’t have a cake like that! I won’t be doing that. But I respect your right to sell it and try to recoup what you’ve lost by being SO good at refunding people. Once again, outstanding customer service from Cake Stuff. Really appreciate your honest and common sense approach through all of this - it’s not found elsewhere and this unique approach and actual dialogue you have with customers is what keeps me loyal.

In my opinion you should be able to sell those without being judged. I definitely appreciate how this company takes care of the food safety matters and have noticed it often when visiting your site. I would definitely read the warning if it would be presented clearly in product description or products were otherwise clearly categorised as non-edible. I would use those for painting dummy cakes I'm using as show pieces. All the best and thank you again for stressing on the importance of the food safety and on tendency of some people not to pay attention to provided information. I don't know what Brexit means for me to be able to be your customer afterwards, but I'm still hoping that it would be possible. BR, Laura H. from Finland

perhaps going to the trouble to put a warning sticker on each product will help make it even clearer. There will always be those irresponsible people who will use products not intended for consumption on parts of a cake that will be eaten, but with clear labelling and clear information on your website and online shop, you are covered.

I’m from USA and currently working in a cake supply store. We sold a lot of non-edible gold dust. One of the top selling items. It’s option for a customer to choose. I only used gold dust on decorations even if it’s approved for consumption.

I completely understand the need to sell off the stock and it’s the best compromise to use for non edible items which I now use the rolkem I have left over for.

They give a fantastic finish to toppers etc and I really miss mine.

Rainbow dust has been selling these types of items as non toxic and for removable cake decorations for years so I don't see why you shouldn't. As long as they're specified as non edible :)

I do a lot of sugar work, flowers and dummy cakes that are not for consumption but display purposes only so I would certainly buy them as I have always found the colours superb

I think you do need to exercise extreme caution because, as you rightly point out, there will be many people who don't read information/instructions properly or who are misinformed.

there are other non-edible products out there so seems a shame for Cake-stuff to be left with unsold stock when the Rolkem could be classed in the same way

No one's going to eat fairies or flowers.AS long as it's for cake topper theres no problem.

As long as it is stated not edible, it’s fine

Having ready and understood your statement I would purchase Rolkem for exhibition/dummy cakes/fake cakes with the understanding it will not be used for edible products. The dilemma will replicating the overall look when asked to recreate a design. I would have no problem explaining to customers in future.

I would use for non edible.....but unfortunately as with America’s colour products people have continued to use as before. In theory an amazing product........nothing is as good.

I loved the rolkem range but understand that they are now classed as non edible, i would definitely use these on dummy cakes or non edible decorations

I think, for yourselves, the way Rolkhem have dealt with the recall is very poor. But personally I see nothing wrong with selling off your stock as non edible colouring. Just go for it ????

I make a lot of sugar flowers which are wired and definitely not edible. Would love to be able to buy Rolkem dusts again for this purpose and the gold lustres for display cakes and leaves etc

If it's used on nonedibles I don't see any reason not to use it


So when can I order Rolkem again?

Thank you to everyone who took the time to take part in the survey - we're only too happy to give our customers a say in something as important as this.  We didn't expect the results to be so overwhelmingly in favour of us selling Rolkem products and your comments certainly gave us a lot to think about.  We also want to thank everyone who left comments in the context of not wanting anything like this to damage Cake Stuff's reputation - this was very much appreciated and highlighted that we need to be crystal clear with product classification, accurate descriptions, labelling etc.

We knew from the outset that not everyone would be happy with the results; something we all know too well following a certain referendum - oh look at us getting all political!  So even if you don't agree with the decision, we hope you can see we've done everything possible to be honest and transparent

We have tens of thousands of pots to sort through, add 'non-edible' labels to, count and re-list on the website.  Realistically we think this work will be complete and stock available to order at some point in late 2019 or early 2020

Please note that we do not supply Rolkem products for re-sale.  If you order any from us with the intention of selling via your own shop, website, Facebook page, eBay etc then please understand that you are responsible for the sale of these products to the end user

As we said at the start, if you have any doubts about ever using Rolkem again then we totally understand and would simply advise you not to order any.  That way there can be no confusion, misunderstanding or mistakes made with the use of the products themselves

Please watch for your 'Latest News from Cake Stuff' email newsletters as these include the very latest news, new products and special offers.  GDPR rules mean we can only send you the newsletter if you've opted in so make sure you've subscribed, please fill in the little 'newsletter sign-up' box at the bottom of the Home Page

Prices have still to be confirmed but we'll make sure these are offered at the best prices in the UK.  The prices you may see on the website meantime were purely our normal selling prices as of May 2018.  No doubt, there will also be some sort of special offer to help kick-start their return to sale so don't miss that newsletter!