The Future of Food Safety – Converting Certification to Competence

Highfield Food Safety CPD Event

The Future of Food Safety

As we welcome in the new year, like many of you, we’re also looking to and planning for the future. In 2019 we’re as committed as we’ve ever been to raising food safety standards through qualifications and supporting training. On Tuesday 19 February, Highfield Chairman Richard Sprenger will deliver two CPD sessions on what the future of food safety might look like.

These half-day CPD sessions will provide food safety trainers, training managers from corporate organisations, and enforcement officers with the chance to discuss our proposals for the future of food safety and HACCP training, share in Richard Sprenger’s knowledge and participate in our vision for improving food safety based on our global experience.

We’ve written the most popular books on food safety and, over the last 35 years, evolved into the UK’s leading provider of regulated food safety qualifications, training materials and e-learning.

Fifty years of promoting food safety in roles as diverse as enforcement officer, government adviser, director and chairman of an awarding organisation have given Richard an insight into food safety that is unrivalled. His passion has seen him travel the world working with trainers, large companies and government bodies to implement improvements to food safety standards.

It is this experience that ensures that not only are Highfield’s solutions to food-safety issues based on good science, but that they are pragmatic and practical for the real-world situations that occur in business.

Since 2010 Highfield, under the leadership of Richard, has been heavily involved in the implementation of the Dubai government’s mandated Person in Charge (PIC) Programme, a programme that has seen measurable and meaningful success in improving standards of food safety.  

This success has given Highfield the blueprint for a new way of implementing food safety and hygiene improvements. A way that sees the certificate reflect competency, rather than just a box-ticking exercise in the latest third-party audit or inspection.

At this event Highfield will unveil what we believe will be a significant step forward in converting ‘the certificate on the wall’ to genuine competence in the workplace, and provide food businesses with the means to accept the responsibility for food safety and HACCP within their business.

This is the ideal CPD event for anyone with responsibility for training or implementing food safety improvements.

Delegates can choose from two sessions, with one session in the morning and a second session taking place in the afternoon. The timings and the agenda can be seen below.


Morning session –

8.30 – 9.00am: Registration and refreshments
9.00-10.00am: Improving food safety
10.00-10.30am: HACCP in catering
10.30-10.45am: Break and refreshments
10.45am – 11.45am: The future of food safety: certified programmes and HACCP for catering v CODEX

Afternoon session –

12.45-1.15pm: Registration and refreshments
1.15-2.15pm: Improving food safety
2.15-2.45pm: HACCP in catering
2.45-3.00pm: Break and refreshments
3.00-4.00pm: The future of food safety: certified programmes and HACCP for catering v CODEX

Attendance at this event will award participants with 3 CPD hours.

Places cost £35+VAT for Highfield centres and £55+VAT for non-centres.

To book your place, click here or call 0845 226 0350/01302 363277.

Allergens in food: Russian roulette for customers?

Allergens, a 14-barrel gun ready to fire at any moment.

Many of the foods we consume on a day-to-day basis contain allergens. Many of us consume them without a moment’s thought, but for some the risks of consuming food containing allergenic ingredients are potentially deadly.  

Allergens, allergies, and allergic reactions often make the news. Often in tragic circumstances as a member of the public has suffered either catastrophic injury or worse following the consumption of an allergenic ingredient.

Articles on such instances often feature hard-hitting quotes from friends, family and industry experts, or snippets of legal judgements, but with no context or guidance as to the steps you can take to protect not only yourself and your business, but most importantly customers to exposure to allergens.

The UK has recently been the source of high-profile worldwide news stories regarding allergens. There have been high profile instances featuring well-known high street brands and an October court case that resulted in custodial sentences for the two owners of a Manchester takeaway.

The common theme has been undeclared allergens.

In the Manchester takeaway case, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a statement describing the convictions as a clear message to food businesses of the consequences of not providing accurate allergen information.

The sentiments are fair. But how do you ensure that the food you produce is free of allergens or clearly labelled as containing allergenic ingredients? 

A good starting point would be to fully understand all of the ingredients that are used in your products. Are your suppliers held to strict allergen controls? Do they label ingredients clearly? Are you aware of their manufacturing processes and any potential exposure to allergens? Do they provide regular and timely updates on all changes to ingredients?

Closer to home there are steps that can be taken from the very basics of good food safety and hygiene and the proper thorough cleaning of work stations to safe, clearly labelled storage, utilising colour-coded utensils and using separate cleaning supplies to avoid cross-contamination.

Perhaps, most importantly, the human element – how well trained and knowledgeable are your staff when it comes to allergen control? Are they confident and compliant when managing ingredient controls and procedures? Do they understand the potential seriousness of allergic reactions?

Keeping a record of your allergen controls is vital. Not only for you when it comes to audits and inspections, but for your customers when it comes to their well-being.

At Highfield we currently offer two regulated qualifications that provide employers and employees with the knowledge to improve safety and implement effective allergen controls. The Highfield Level 2 Award in Allergen Awareness and Control in Catering (RQF) is ideal for front-line staff and those involved in the preparation of food. We also offer the Highfield Level 3 Award in Allergen Management in Catering (RQF), which is ideal for managers of a catering business.

We also have an interactive e-learning course that offers an ‘Introduction to Allergens’ and is ideal for staff who are involved in food production or food handling roles whether in catering, retail or manufacturing.

If you’d like more information on how our qualifications, training materials or e-learning may help you understand allergens more clearly, please contact us today.

Call 0845 226 0350/01302 363277 or email and a member of our team will explain how we can help.



Effective Delivery of Highfield Level 4 Qualifications

Do your learners struggle with the step up to level 4 food safety or HACCP?

Are pass rates not as high as you would hope? Or are your learners passing with lower marks than anticipated?

If the answer is ‘yes’ then our Effective Delivery of Level 4 Qualifications event is essential CPD!

As the market leader for regulated food safety qualifications, Highfield is committed to ensuring its centres can offer the finest food safety and HACCP qualifications on the market.

And as part of that commitment, we have recently reviewed and updated the assessment methods of our level 4 regulated qualifications in HACCP and food safety.

The changes to these qualifications have been made to ensure that Highfield qualifications continue to set the standard in food safety compliance to ensure continued relevance and to respond to and meet modern day issues.

Attendance at this event will provide 3 CPD points.

To book your place, click here.

Calling all food safety trainers and professionals!

This Autumn Highfield will host two half day food safety CPD workshops in Bristol. As the UKs market leader for regulated food safety qualifications, we are committed to ensuring that Highfield centres are kept up-to-date with the latest developments in the sector and best practice when it comes to delivering our qualifications.

Firstly, join us for our Effective Delivery of Highfield Level 4 Qualifications on the 9th October 2018. Ideal for centres who have learners who struggle with the step up to level 4 food safety or HACCP or have lower than expected pass rates, and learners passing with lower marks than anticipated, this event will put the focus on maximising results.

The event will put a spotlight on the recent changes that have recently been made to our level 4 qualifications and focus on the updated assessment criteria that ensures our qualifications offer continued relevance and ensure that they meet modern day issues.

The event will be delivered by Judith Hutchinson. Jude is one of Highfield’s subject matter experts for food safety and HACCP, moderates and marks all levels of food safety and HACCP exams, and is an experienced trainer. Jude has been delivering food safety and HACCP training, as well as working as a consultant, to food manufacturers, caterers and retailers, for many years.

Attending the Effective Delivery of Highfield Level 4 Qualifications event provides 3 CPD points and costs just £50 for Highfield Centres. Non-centres are welcome to attend and will be charged £80.

Book your place on this event here.

Then, on the 27th November we’ll run a Pest Management and Effective Cleaning CPD Event that brings together two excellent speakers from two hugely respected organisations.

Grahame Turner, Training Manager at Mitie Pest Control will run through the latest innovations in pest control including the growing role of technology within programmes of pest management. Vitally, Grahame’s talk focuses on how organisations can implement this new technology within their existing pest management programme.

Peter Littleton then comes to the fore with a cleaning update. Technical Director at Christeyns Food Hygiene and Vice-Chair & Training Services at SOFHT brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the room. Peter’s presentation on cleaning techniques and measuring efficacy highlights the importance of ensuring that the basics are covered, and that results are verified.

This half day event will provide attendees with 4 CPD points and costs just £50 for Highfield centres and £80 for non-centres.

Book your place on this event here.

Review: Hygiene for Management

At Highfield, we’re always happy to receive reviews of our products, and are thrilled to hear what our customers think of the training materials we produce.

Recently we received a thorough review of the 19th Edition of Hygiene for Management from the Food Safety Authority Ireland.

Hygiene for Management – A textbook for food safety courses
19th Edition 2017
Published by Highfield Products Limited
ISBN 978-1-910964-44-6

A Standard Reference for Food Safety Standards

Our information age is driven by the expectation of an instant response to any question. Where once the 20 volume encyclopaedia ruled, websites, blogs, electronic journals, social media and voice activated and responsive personal assistants now dominate. Whatever the question, the answer can surely be found in the latest app on your smartphone.  The idea of a textbook or a reference book seems outdated. Not so.  First published in 1985 and constantly revised and updated Hygiene for Management graces our shelves now in its 19th edition.  Richard Sprenger continues to produce a standard reference for food safety courses, a useful companion for those in food business for whom a practical knowledge of food safety is an essential part of daily life.

Richard Sprenger is a well-known and respected food safety professional with extensive experience and a very successful track record particularly in food safety training. His latest work is a culmination of all of that experience, setting down on paper a practical compendium of information and advice in a useful format. The book is in essence a textbook which continues to withstand the test of time. Like any reference, it is designed to be used in finding specific items of information than for cover to cover reading. Although, for the student new to food safety, reading the book from start to finish will provide a thorough mix of information which will provide a solid grounding for those engaged in managing or running a food operation.

Food safety is not a commercial advantage, but certainly a lack of it or a lack of appreciation of its significance by management and staff will place any business in peril.  Despite the sophistication of the modern age, the food industry still suffers from scares and disasters minor and major, all of which are avoidable though the application of basic hygiene, good design and technology, some science,  legal compliance, training and management and preventative techniques. Sprenger’s book lays out the essential knowledge for managers in the food sector if they are to fulfil the principal roles of management which for food or other sectors is the same– understanding the nature of their business, planning, leading, organising and controlling.

Hygiene for Management is divided into 14 chapters, two appendices and a useful glossary of terms which are highlighted in colour throughout the text as an easy reminder for the reader.

At the heart of food safety is the knowledge that sometimes food can do harm to people and therefore steps need to be taken to eliminate or mitigate the harm.   A knowledge of the potential harm is therefore a good place to start. The book takes the reader through the chemical, biological, physical and allergenic hazards and the changing nature of food poisoning.  Another chapter deals with food microbiology and food poisoning and another with pest control.

Most mitigating or preventative approaches to food safety begin with so called prerequisite programmes – premises design and construction, equipment design and maintenance. A chapter each is devoted to these topics. All chapters are illustrated by drawings and photographs and useful summary tables.  The language style is direct and to the point.  Cleaning and disinfection are given ample treatment, again in direct manner drawing clear distinctions, covering many examples with commentary on their application and effectiveness. There is a straightforward chapter on personal hygiene, good practice and exclusion policies.

Given Sprenger’s wide experience in training and training methods it is no surprise that emphasis is placed on its importance; practical advice given on communication, training options and how to make training effective and reinforced.

All modern food businesses have food safety systems based on HACCP principles. This too gets the Sprenger direct treatment and explanation. Alternatives to HACCP are also discussed. The chapter is enough to give the student a reasonable understanding of the principles and their application. As with all learning, of course, the textbook knowledge has to be supplemented by doing. Nevertheless, the information at least will provide managers with an appreciation of the preventative and proactive approaches to eliminating or mitigating against harm.

Legal compliance is an unavoidable feature of all approaches to food safety. Knowledge of and adherence to legal obligations is something every food business has to manage. The book provides a sort of whistle-stop tour of the main legal obligations on safety, hygiene and labelling. It is largely based in EU and UK law and enforcement practices, which could be said to limit its usefulness. In a chapter this size, however, it is not really possible to do little more than to signpost the main issues.  With the approach of Brexit, it will be interesting to see how this chapter and other legal references evolve in the next edition.

A brief outline description is given of third party food safety standards such as those of the BRC and the GFSI, the subject of much debate at international level today.  Such business-to-business standards are, in reality, often of more significance for commercial survival, than legal obligations. Some mention is included on traceability and the increasingly important subject of food fraud. A short appendix on the types of food processing effectively completes the volume.

Needless to say, when preparing a textbook, the difficulty is not in deciding what to include, but rather what to omit.  The tricky area of food additives would be worth including, as would the principles of the rules governing food contaminants and the complex rules on microbiological criteria. Mention could also be made of compositional standards and of course an entire book could be easily devoted to labelling, country of origin and provenance, health claims and nutritional labelling. For the food safety enthusiast, there is an unending curriculum to study.

In fairness, Hygiene for Management does what it sets out to do – provide good reference material for the manager and the ab initio food safety student. The sustainability of a food business is dependent on good standards of food safety. The survival of the textbook for 35 years is recommendation enough in itself and a clear indication of the popularity of Sprenger’s teaching craft and training ability.

Raymond Ellard
Raymond Ellard is a Director of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland

If you’re a Highfield customer with thoughts on our product range, or if you’d like to provide feedback or a review, contact us today on  

Acrylamide in food: getting to grips with new legislation

Acrylamide is a word that has been popping up in the news a lot of late. And if you are involved in any element of food safety, either as an industry professional or a trainer, it’s a word you’re going to be hearing a lot more.

This April saw the European Union (EU) pass legislation to limit the amount of acrylamide allowed in packaged foods for the first time. The legislation also compels manufacturers to actively reduce the level of acrylamide in their finished products.

The move came after a number of high-profile stories in the UK press concerning the use of acrylamide in food. But what is it? And how can food safety professionals stay on the right side of the new legislation?

What is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a chemical that naturally forms in starchy food products during every-day, high- temperature cooking, such as frying, baking and roasting, and industrial processing at 120°C and above.  It mainly forms from sugars and amino acids that are naturally present in many foods. Fried products such as chips and crisps contain the most acrylamide, while toasted bread can contain ten times as much as untoasted bread. The most important food groups contributing to exposure are fried potato products, coffee, biscuits, crackers and crisp breads, and soft bread.

Acrylamide is a known carcinogen and can pose a health risk, particularly to children who are more likely to have cereal and potato-based snacks in their diets. However, possible harmful effects of it on the nervous system, pre and post-natal development and male reproduction were not considered to be a concern, based on current levels of dietary exposure.

The new legislation
The new legislation was introduced on 11 April 2018. Previously, efforts to reduce acrylamide in food had been voluntary. However, the new legislation sets a benchmark level of acrylamide for various food products, which go from 350 micrograms (μg) of acrylamide per kilogram for biscuits and cookies, 750μg per kilogram for potato crisps, and 850μg per kilogram for instant soluble coffee. Foods aimed at children such as rusks and baby food have considerably lower benchmark levels.

Facts for trainers and food business operators
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has already published guidelines that will be of use to trainers and food business operators.

General advice includes:

• be aware of acrylamide as a food safety hazard and have a general understanding of how acrylamide is formed in the food they produce
• take the necessary steps to mitigate acrylamide formation in the food they produce; adopting the relevant measures as part of their food safety management procedures
• undertake representative sampling and analysis where appropriate to monitor the levels of acrylamide in their products as part of their assessment of the mitigation measures
• keep appropriate records of the mitigation measures undertaken, together with sampling plans and the results of any testing

Trainers should keep an eye out for updates by the Food Standards Agency on the regulatory requirements. In the meantime, further guidance can be found via the links below:


New Level 4 HACCP for Management qualification

Level 4 HACCP

Highfield has launched a new qualification for learners working at management level within both food manufacturing and catering environments.

The Highfield Level 4 Award in HACCP for Management (CODEX Principles) (RQF) has been designed to assist those already working as managers in food manufacturing and catering, quality assurance staff and HACCP personnel.

It is also useful for trainers, auditors, enforcers and other food safety professionals looking to improve their skills and knowledge.

Key topics covered include the importance of CODEX-based HACCP food safety management procedures, and how to manage, develop and evaluate them.

The qualification also contains a new style of written examination which contains 2 sections, each with a mandatory pass mark of 60 percent. In section A, learners need to answer all of the short-answer questions, while in section B, leaners select 2 out of 3 questions.

This qualification will eventually replace the Highfield Level 4 Award in HACCP Management for Food Manufacturing (RQF). Centres will have a transition period of 3 months, however, once this has transpired, Highfield will only accept registrations on the  Highfield Level 4 Award in HACCP for Management (CODEX Principles).

For more information, go to

You can also speak to us today about how we can help you, either by contacting your dedicated account manager, emailing us at or calling us on 0845 2260350/01302 363277

Food technology conference with SoFHT

Food hygiene and technology professionals from across the country will get the chance to hear the latest news and updates from some of the top experts at special conference next February.

Hosted by the Society of Food Hygiene and Technology (SoFHT) and supported by Highfield Qualifications, the Back to Basics: The Next Generation conference will take place on 13 February 2018 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, and will give delegates the change to hear first hand about the latest research and technology.

Speakers and topics covered on the day will include:
  • Hand Hygiene – Tracey Black – DEB
  • Labelling and Coding Verification Systems  – Jude Mason – Succour 
  • Allergen Risks and Controls – Barbara Hirst – RSSL 
  • Pest Control Threats and Solutions – John Simmons – Acheta 
  • Cleaning Technology and Verification – Peter Littleton – Klenzan 
  • Training Shortfalls and Solutions – Jude Hutchinson – Highfield Qualifications 
As well as Q&A panels throughout the day, the presentations will be supported by an extensive exhibition of 20 businesses showcasing their products and services, where delegates can learn from the experts and informally network with their peers.

Tickets cost £99 plus VAT for Highfield Approved Centres, and £145 for non-Highfield centres.

To find out more, go to the Highfield events section here

If you would like to find out more about exhibition opportunities, please contact Phil Shaw on 07818 571261 or SoFHT on 01827 872500.

Food security expert Professor Chris Elliott issues warning

food security expert Chris Griffith

Professor Chris Elliott, author of the Elliott Review into the 2013 horse meat scandal

Food security expert warns the UK is facing the greatest threat to the integrity of its food supply since World War II.

Professor Chris Elliott, who was appointed by the government to investigate the horsemeat scandal in 2013 that saw up to 50,000 horses disappear from across Europe, has warned that a combination of factors such as Brexit and global warming mean the country’s food supply is potentially less secure than at any point in the last 70 years.

Speaking at a conference of food industry experts this autumn, the professor warned that:

  • the UK is not yet prepared for the many challenges that Brexit will pose to the safe supply and production of food. Compromises on food safety standards is a real and immediate threat
  • lack of action on global warming is leading to the increase in incidences of disease and drought that have already devastated some of the food commodities we have come to rely on
  • increased price pressure on food suppliers continues to increase the risk for food fraud as farmers and producers struggle to meet the lower prices demanded by retailers

The professor, who is the founder of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, issued the warning at the Food Fraud, Culture and Modern Catering Processes conference in Doncaster on 26 September 2017, hosted by Highfield Qualifications, one of the UK’s leading exam boards.

Professor Elliott said, ‘As a country we need to seriously begin considering how we ‘future proof’ the integrity of our food supply in the face of the challenges coming in the next few years. To understand what we are eating, where it comes from and how it was produced are of fundamental importance to regaining trust. To reconnect with our food system should be considered a national imperative’.

He added, ‘We have made good progress on the issue of food fraud since the publication of the Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks in 2014. However, although food fraud remains a priority to those of us concerned with the integrity of our food supply, we need to be versatile and responsive in how we deal with other – potentially greater – challenges to come, especially around Brexit and global warming’.

The Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks – Final Report: A National Food Crime Prevention Framework can be found at   

For further information on Highfield, go to

For regular updates, go to and

Notes to editors:
1. Highfield Qualifications is one of the UK’s leading awarding organisations, offering over 200 qualifications covering a wide variety of industries including food safety, customer service, health and safety, licensing, security, stewarding, retail, logistics, catering and hospitality.

2. The Food Fraud, Culture and Modern Catering Processes conference took place at Doncaster Racecourse on 26 September 2017, and featured presentations from Professor Chris Elliott (Director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast), Andy Morling (Head of the National Food Crime Unit, FSA), Sterling Crew (Institute of Food Science and Technology), Simon Flanagan (RSSL) and Peter Littleton (Klenzan).

2018 events calendar now live!

2018 events calendarWe know summer may have only just started, despite the best efforts of the British weather to suggest otherwise.  

And it’s still a massive 152 days until Christmas (sorry).  

But that’s not going to stop us from launching our events calendar for 2018!  

We’re already excited about the line up we’ve put together, with a whole host of events throughout the year covering first aid, fire safety, education and training and food safety.

And we’ve brought together some of the very best subject matter experts in their fields, who will be bringing you all the latest updates, guidance, information and training you need for your organisation. 

Nearly all our events come with CPD points and offer discounts to Highfield Centres, so there’s plenty of reason to get booking now. 

But don’t worry if you’re looking to have your training needs met a little bit sooner – there’s still 21 weeks of the year left (we’re counting) and numerous events between now and the end of the year, so plenty of opportunity to confirm your place.

If you want to take a sneak preview of what we’ve lined up for 2018, then just go to our events section and scroll through the dates. 

Or drop us a line at