Embrace food safety culture to tackle foodborne illness’ warns top expert

One of the UK’s top food safety experts will warn a conference this autumn that businesses must embrace a positive food safety culture if they are to tackle the UK’s estimated half a million cases of foodborne illness each year.

Professor Chris Griffith, who is editor of the British Food Journal and one the world’s leading consultants on food safety, will tell delegates at the HABC National Conference on 13 November 2014 at Old Trafford Stadium that businesses have both a moral and financial imperative to produce safe food, but that this cannot be achieved without a positive food safety culture.

Since the Pennington report into the South Wales E. coli outbreak, food safety culture has jumped to prominence as the industry recognises that safety management systems in themselves do not necessarily lead to the production of safe food.

Speaking at the conference, Professor Griffith will explain how a management system must be accompanied by a positive food safety culture if it is to ensure food handlers follow correct practice. He will also explain how every business has a food safety culture, and that it is the function of owners and managers to ensure that this is positive towards food safety.

Other areas covered in his presentation will include the concepts and definitions of food safety culture and its increasing relevance to auditors and inspectors, an introduction to the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) approach to assessing food safety culture, and comparisons to other different approaches. There will also be an explanation of how businesses can construct a food safety culture improvement action plan.

Professor Griffith, who has recently authored a book on the subject – Developing and Maintaining a Positive Food Safety Culture - says, ‘For too long, food safety has been treated simply as a microbiological problem. However, there is now a growing recognition that there is a major human behavioural component.

When known food-safety practices are not followed it is all too all too easy to blame the individual food handler, yet the real underlying causes are often management failures. I know many managers who claim to be supportive of food safety and how it is their number one priority, but when I dig deep into the organisation’s culture I discover this is usually not the case.

Producing a positive food safety culture is easy to say but much more difficult for most businesses to prove. I hope by attending the conference and implementing the measures described, managers will be much better able to do this’.

Richard Sprenger, HABC Chairman and international food safety expert, says: "With the recent food safety stories in the media, it is becoming increasingly recognised that food safety culture is one of the most important factors in preventing foodborne illnesses, and it is something that inspectors, auditors and bodies such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are focussing on."

"Professor Griffith is one of the leading experts in the world, and his presentation will be of huge interest to anyone in the food industry whether they are from a catering, manufacturing or retail background."

As well as Professor Griffith, the food safety seminar at the HABC National Conference will also feature presentations from:

• Richard Sprenger, Chairman of HABC and author of Hygiene for Management and the Food Safety Handbook;

• John Barnes, Head of Local Authority Audit and Liaison Division, Food Standards Agency;

• Euan MacAuslan, Senior Training Advisor for The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea;

• Professor David Foskett (MBE CMA), Head of the London School of Hospitality and Tourism;

• Professor Patrick Wall, Professor of Public Health, University College Dublin;

• Peter Wareing, Principal Food Safety Advisor at Leatherhead Food Research; and

• Stuart Wiggans, Regulatory Compliance Lead for Retail Operations, ASDA Stores Ltd.

Pecan Deluxe set the food safety standard

Pecan Deluxe Candy (Europe) has demonstrated the success of its commitment to continuous improvement of internal processes and controls, with the achievement of a BRC6 ‘A’ level accreditation.

Generally acknowledged as technically one of the toughest standards to meet, the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety covers a broad spectrum of assessment ranging from Quality Management Systems to evidence of continual improvement. Pecan Deluxe’s achievement comes hot on the heels of significant investment, firstly in a new, dedicated European cold extrusions plant, and more recently in a bespoke bagging system to meet growing demand for flexible packaging solutions, in conjunction with rapid turnaround of bulk orders for the QSR sector. The management team has also been strengthened with senior appointments and promotions and operational processes scrutinised in order to maximise efficiency.

The pioneer of the use of cookie dough in ice cream, Pecan Deluxe is now the biggest European supplier of cookie dough pieces in a range of sizes, which feature in many household name premium ice creams as well as QSR and gastro-pub desserts. All Pecan Deluxe products – ranging from sugar sprinkles and chocolate pieces to brownie chunks and pralines - are made entirely of natural ingredients in segregated facilities, and the company is constantly innovating to meet demand from a growing number of manufacturers for new flavour and texture options.

European Managing Director Graham Kingston says, “The BRC6 A-grade is a very welcome endorsement of the recent efforts and major investment that have enabled Pecan Deluxe Europe to push for maximum performance in all our target areas. We pride ourselves on our product quality, our versatility, speed and superb service levels. Customers can now be reassured that our quality management and safety systems have passed one of the most stringent standards in the world – and with flying colours.”

FSDF is health and safety winner at TCS&D Awards

The Food Storage and Distribution Federation has been named the winner of the Health and Safety category at the prestigious TCS&D Awards event at the National Motorcycle Museum.

The FSDF was selected by the independent judging panel as a clear winner, highlighting its dedication to raising the standards of health and safety, not just for its members but also for the industry as a whole. The judges noted the highly effective and influential work of the Technical and Safety Committee and in particular their Health and Safety Leadership Programme, which has been recognised by the HSE as exactly the sort of guidance in this area that the Government wants to achieve.

Chris Sturman, CEO at FSDF, says, “We were delighted to be first out of the hat and receive the TCS&D award for Health and Safety. The judges recognised the first class work which TASC has undertaken in the last eighteen months, and in particular the establishment of the FSDF Health and Safety Leadership programme and Annual Awards, the establishment of close working relations with the Health and Safety Executive and joining the HSE Logistics Strategy Board, and for the development of Guidelines and Approved Codes of Practice for DSEAR and other key issue areas. We plan to build on this success and further develop the initiatives that make a difference to our members and the entire food logistics industry.”

The Food Storage and Distribution Federation launched its flagship Health and Safety Leadership Programme in January, designed to provide a highly visible declaration of the FSDF’s leadership for members who are committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all involved in the food storage and distribution industry sector.

Incorporating everyone from business leaders to the individuals on the shop floor, the programme mirrors the aims of the wider HSE strategy in encouraging continuous improvement, accountability and recognition of the wider perspective regarding health and safety and the need to actively support and share best practice to improve performance within the industry.

Partner Logistics was one of the first member organisations to get involved. Jon Miles, head of UK Operations, says, “At Partner Logistics, we are serious about all things relating to health and safety. We believe the industry needs to do more, and initiatives such as the Leadership Programme provided by the FSDF are key to driving improvements and maintaining the levels of safety for everyone in our industry. Also, the programme offers us the ability to benchmark our own health and safety performance against both our sector and the logistics industry as a whole, which is something we are very keen to do as part of our ongoing H&S strategy as a business.”

Chris Sturman says, “It is important for organisations to accept that Health and Safety is an ongoing priority and one which requires a continuous commitment from all levels of an organisation. We designed the FSDF Health and Safety Leadership Programme for our member companies who are progressively and proactively seeking to improve and maintain their own health and safety performance at the highest levels, as well as offer visibility of their achievements to the HSE and the industry at large.”

Food standards body for Scotland supported by Health Committee

The creation of a standalone food standards body in Scotland has been supported by MSPs on the Health and Sport Committee.

The Food (Scotland) Bill proposes that the current Food Standards Agency in Scotland be replaced with Food Standards Scotland which, in addition to regulating food safety, would also have a role in diet and nutrition policy.

In a report, MSPs call for greater detail on the proposed research functions of Food Standards Scotland and how these functions will relate to UK-funded research bodies. The report also highlighted significant opportunities for the new body to gain from European funding streams including Horizon 2020 and the Committee has requested more detail in relation to how these funding opportunities can be exploited.

The new agency will also have the ability to apply administrative sanctions, including issuing fixed penalty notices, on those who commit an offence related to Scotland’s food law. Whilst supportive of the principle, the Committee is calling on the Scottish Government to consider establishing an appeals process for the new sanctions.

Duncan McNeil MSP, Convener of the Committee, says, “Scotland’s food and drink industry has gained an international reputation for quality, so the creation of this body will have a vital role in ensuring that consumers have trust in the safety of the food they eat. The proposed legislation will also give the new organisation greater power to administer sanctions to those breaking Scotland’s food law which will ultimately provide reassurance to consumers.”

Bob Doris MSP, Deputy Convener of the Committee, says, “Whilst this Bill may seem like an administrative change, in fact, what is being proposed is a new body which will not only be responsible for food safety but also diet and nutrition. It was clear that all these issues are extremely important in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland and protecting the reputation of Scotland’s food and drink industry. Our Committee agrees that the creation of this new body will be a positive step forward.”

USDA releases results of water-based Aflatoxin test study

As part of the National Mycotoxin Quality Assurance Program, the USDA Grain Inspection Advisory Committee has released the results of a comparative study on water-based aflatoxin test kits.

Neogen, Charm, and Envirologix test kits were compared against a GIPSA reference method. Neogen’s Reveal Q+ Aflatoxin Green test and one other compared favourably against the reference method in the detection of aflatoxins in ground corn.

Dr Steve Chambers, Neogen’s Sales & Marketing Director, says, “GIPSA’s study showed our test most closely compares to the GIPSA reference method. Our Reveal Q+ tests for mycotoxins are designed to be the easiest and most reliable quantitative tests for mycotoxins available, and they are performing to specifications.”

The results of the study are posted on the USDA website and can be found by visiting www.gipsa.usda.gov. Reveal Q+ for Aflatoxin Green delivers precise results ranging from 2 to 150 parts per billion of aflatoxin after only six minutes. Reveal Q+ test strips are read in Neogen’s AccuScan lateral flow test reader to deliver quantitative results.

Neogen’s test offers room temperature incubation of the test strip and storage of the test kit eliminating the need for an incubator and refrigeration space, and requires minimal equipment to achieve precise results.

For further information call 01292 525625, email mycotoxins@neogeneurope.com or visit www.neogeneurope.com.

Munters wins prestigious Health & Safety Award

Munters' IceDry solution, which prevents frost and ice in cold storage facilities and reduces accidents, has been honoured at the new awards scheme by the Food Storage and Distribution Federation. Munters won...

Filtered bottle revolution flows into the UK

A bottle that transforms ordinary tap water into a delicious filtered refreshing drink is now available to UK consumers seeking an alternative to the expense and waste of traditional shop sold bottled water.

Available in four attractive shades of red, white, blue and green, the KOR Nava water bottle contains its own unique replaceable coconut carbon filter that lasts three months under normal use, replaces approximately 300 disposable bottles and can save hundreds of pounds in bottled water purchases.

Already hugely popular in America, the KOR Nava has won several awards for its innovative design, including a hands-free push-button cap, which opens with a simple click, making it convenient for every day use, the gym, driving, cycling and also a night time guzzle. Even the ergonomic mouthpiece has been especially designed for optimum comfort when using and to provide natural and consistent water flow.

The attractiveness of a KOR Nava bottle will not be lost on many UK consumers looking to spend less money on their consumable water whilst also doing more to reduce waste.

KOR’s mission is to celebrate and protect water, and like all KOR Water products, Nava is part of KOR’s Thirst for Giving Program, which donates 1% of sales to water-related charities and raise awareness for ocean protection, container recycling, watershed protection, and the global water crisis.

Nava’s filter is made from coconut shells, widely recognised as the most effective material for carbon filtration. After harvesting, the shells are processed using a proprietary method that minimises greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike coal, which takes millions of years to form and may contain heavy metals, coconut is a renewable and health-safe resource.

Nava’s ergonomic mouthpiece resulted from over a dozen prototypes and Nava's filter and filter housing were carefully designed to make drinking feel natural. Unlike other bottles, drinking from Nava doesn't require squeezing, sucking or biting. Users sip naturally as they would from a straw.

Unlike most bottles, which force users to put their lips on an exposed surface, Nava's cap completely protects the mouthpiece when not in use.

Hanovia’s disinfection technology recognised by Chinese innovation award

UV disinfection specialist Hanovia has won the Ringier Technology Innovation Award for its medium pressure, multi-spectrum UV sugar syrup disinfection technology.

Wang Tao, Hanovia’s China General Manager, says, "This is the fourth time we have won the award since 2010, which is great recognition of the quality and reliability of our UV technology for the food and beverage industries. “The Ringier Awards, which have been held annually in China since 2005, aim to encourage technology innovation by acknowledging and rewarding those companies who have made prominent steps to innovative products and technologies. Hanovia’s medium pressure, multi-spectrum UV sugar syrup disinfection technology that stood out from rivals is an innovative technology launched in 2013 to provide effective disinfection for sugar syrup used in the food and beverage production process."

Compared with traditional technologies, Hanovia’s UV system effectively overcomes the problem of low UV transmittance in high viscosity liquids such as sugar syrups. It efficiently destroys bacteria, viruses and spores without altering the colour, odour, pH or stability of the final product or producing any unwanted disinfection by-products. UV therefore helps food and beverage producers to minimise chemical additives and preservatives while ensuring microbial safety.

Wang Tao says, “As a leading UV company Hanovia is been dedicated to continuous innovation. Since we entered the Chinese market in 2005 we have successively launched a number of innovative products for the Chinese food & beverage industry, winning unanimous praise from industry experts. This makes us extremely proud of the work we do.

“This year is also Hanovia’s 90th anniversary, so it’s a very special time for the company. We recently established an Asia Pacific UV Application R&D Centre in Shanghai and we will continue to innovate and provide better and safer UV technology to the Chinese food and beverage industry.”

At the award ceremony, Kathy Wang from Hanovia’s Marketing Department, pictured, had the chance to discuss the company’s technology with fellow entrants and other guests and tell them about interesting research results and case studies of Hanovia’s UV technologies in the food and beverage industry.

Educational programme gets to grips with safety risks

Independent expertise will be in evidence at Health and Safety North 2014 which takes place at The Bolton Arena on 8th and 9th October.

Opening the two day conference programme, which is independently organised by the British Safety Council, will be the Deputy Director of Chemicals Regulation at the Health and Safety Executive, Ian Travers. In his presentation, entitled ‘Corporate Governance - Getting to Grips with Significant Safety Risks’, Ian will share learnings from the major hazards sector which can be read across to the management of risks in other sectors. He will also share insights on how senior executives can focus on business vulnerability.

A different style of seminar is also featured at the event in the form of a drama based presentation called ‘Safety Leadership and Culture’. Delivered by Shaun Curry and Harry Gallagher of Macnaughton McGregor, the session promises to be interactive, practical and effective and the organisers say their style of delivery effects a long-term change in attitude – not just a short term change in behaviour - and helps to build lasting positive cultural change.

Focusing on legal issues and looking back at some of the most significant court cases in the last twelve months will be Kevin Bridges, Partner and Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner, Pinsent Masons LLP. Entitled ‘Health and Safety – Looking Back at some Landmark Judgments’, Kevin’s presentation will focus on the impact of the sentencing council guidelines on the level of fines in health and safety cases and provide an update on Corporate Manslaughter.

Other educational content that addresses, risks across a business is the seminar ‘Putting Risk Control at the Heart of Health and Safety’. Delivered by Helen Devery, Partner and Head of Office at BLM LLP, she states that good safety management techniques build on best practice and that can include the lessons learned from legal claims and prosecutions. In this session, Helen will present on how to use legal risk management techniques in order to improve safety control and incidents.

Slips, trips and falls are a major cause of accidents in the workplace but perhaps are not being given the attention they should according to Mark Thomas, Consultant, with his seminar which takes place on day two of the event. Mark aims to give an overview on key controls to help reduce such accidents within the workplace.

Event Director Tim Else says, “We’ve made sure our educational programme addresses the hottest topics affecting the industry today. We want our visitors to be kept up-to-date with all the news and legislation that could affect their workplace. In addition, this year’s event features an exhibition of which 40% of the companies, trade bodies and training providers are completely new compared to last year giving the repeat visitor access to new information. The event also features a revised and improved layout and the event space has now doubled compared to 2013, resulting in the event covering all of the 5000 sq m available!”

Along with event partners Arco, DuPont and NQA and title sponsor 3M, Health & Safety North 2014 is supported by the British Safety Council and officially endorsed by the International Institute of Risk & Safety Management. To register online visit www.healthandsafetyevents.co.uk.

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