Expanding our knowledge on food quality & safety
The main focus of the prepared media made by Cherwell Laboratories is aimed towards the pharmaceutical industry and hospital pharmacies. You find, after a certain length of time working for a company, you end up with a lot of rubbish heading into your inbox, then straight into the deleted items! For a change, news of a food industry event called the Food Quality and Safety summit, ended up in our sales manager, Andrew Barrow’s inbox. Andrew thought it would be a good idea to dispatch me to this event on 30th November at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. Although only a minor part of our business, it was a good chance for me to expand my knowledge in a different sector.
Topics on food quality & safety covered
The event was essentially part trade exhibition and a series of focused seminars. There were a broad range of subjects covered including - new product development and innovation; health and nutrition; compliance; branding and marketing and lab tech and innovations. I chose to sit in seminars on the subject matters of food quality and safety followed by seminars about hygiene. Due to the number of topics covered, I have split this blog into two parts. This part covers the non-microbiology side. Part 2, next month, will cover the food microbiology talks, which were really interesting from my perspective.
New product development
The opening three talks in the food quality and safety seminar sessions, gave a really good flavour of the quality systems in place at food manufacturers. First up was Simon Heath, from Solutions for Retail Brands, talking about improving food quality through “one view” of product performance. He mentioned that 90% of new product developments are not successful. His company help manufacturers collate all the sources of data about new products to help them understand what consumers like and dislike about that product.
Product recall management
Vince Shires, from RQA Group, followed this by talking about product recall management. He listed ten key tips for before and during product recall. There was simple advice, such as having a plan with key content and challenging the lab results making sure the lab used is accredited. Only 10% of a food product is taken off the shelf when the recall happens, so effective communication is vital. The next talk from Jude Mason, of Succour Limited, was about looking to the future in terms of improving food quality and predicting what issues will require dealing with in the future.
Food safety challenges
Going back to the subject of product recalls, James Flynn, from HACCP, now talked about food safety challenges post Horsegate/post Brexit. Brexit can't be summed up, as no one actually knows. The now infamous horsemeat scandal has meant 80% more food products have been recalled since 2013. The estimated cost so far has been in excess of £500 million, plus greater compliance costs.
Following the food microbiology related talks; I attended a couple regarding hygiene. The first was essentially an overview of the most important EU regulations regarding the design of equipment and facilities used in the processing of food. The final talk I attended had a sales angle. It was about a powerful detergent where the active component was performic acid. This is an unstable compound, which has to be generated immediately before use with a controlled mixture of formic acid and hydrogen peroxide. It requires a very short contact time and breaks down rapidly to carbon dioxide and water due to its instability. The rapid break down of this disinfectant also means it does not corrode stainless steel, which is particularly important for obvious reasons.
Next month; food microbiology, with plenty of fascinating insights into food poisoning and biofilms.
Microbiology Product Specialist,
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