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.

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
Richard A Sprenger DMS, FCIEH, FREHIS, FSOFHT
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  The idea of a textbook or a reference book seems outdated.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 shughes@highfield.co.uk  

Food safety update from HABC/Greenwoods

HABC has teamed up with Greenwoods Solicitors LLP to provide you with a quarterly update on legal developments affecting food safety.

Greenwoods is one of the most respected names in the food safety business, with a renowned team of legal experts providing expertise on everything from the new regulator’s code to the horsemeat scandal, as well as key legal issues of the day.

Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
These came into force on 31 December 2013 and apply to England only.  Since they are consolidating Regulations, they revoke certain provisions of the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 and the General Food Regulations 2004 and provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for businesses and enforcement authorities to locate all the safety and hygiene provisions in one statutory instrument.

From January 2014, all enforcement action should be taken under these Regulations, i.e. food safety breaches, traceability issues, notices and orders etc.

Of interest are the powers of entry for an authorised officer which can be found at Regulation 16, whilst ‘due diligence’ defence is found at Regulation 12.

Action – find the regulations by clicking here.

Should you have any queries then do get in touch with Kathryn Gilbertson at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887621 or by email at kgilbertson@greenwoods.co.uk

Regulators’ Code
Previously known as the Compliance Code and prior to that the Enforcement Concordat, this was given statutory status on 6 April 2014.

Its aim is to promote good regulatory principles which reduce unnecessary burdens on business and increase the benefits that regulation can bring through transparency and accountability.  The Code promotes efficient and effective working practices by requiring regulators to have regard to the Codes’ principles, namely:

  1. Regulators should carry out their activities in a way that supports those they regulate to comply  and grow.
  2. Regulators should provide simple and straightforward ways to communicate with those they regulate and hear their views.
  3. Regulators should base their regulatory activities on risk.
  4. Regulators should share information about compliance and risk.
  5. Regulators should ensure clear information, guidance and advice is available to help those they regulate meet their responsibility to comply.
  6. Regulators should ensure that their approach to their regulatory activities is transparent.

Regulators must publish ‘service standards’ so that businesses know what they can expect from their enforcement officers. These will be published by the following regulators:

Action – you can find the code by clicking here.

Should you have any queries about how the code will apply to your business then please contact Charlotte Murray at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887620 or by email at clmurray@greenwoods.co.uk

Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines
There is a statutory obligation on every court to have regard to these guidelines when considering imposing a penalty in a relevant case, and to give reasons when imposing a sentence outside the range identified.

These guidelines were revised in March 2014.  Whilst no specific tariffs are specified for food safety cases, of interest are offences such as:

  • ‘Alcohol sale to a minor’ where sentences should fall in a range of a fine and/or community service together with consideration of additional orders including forfeiture or suspension of personal liquor licence – these sentences would apply when liquor is sold to a child under 18 years by a shop assistant; or
  • In the case of counterfeit sauces/relish, the penalties for the ‘unauthorised use of Trademarks’ include a fine and consideration forfeiture and destruction of the goods.

Action – should you have a case heading for the courts or have a query about possible sanctions for breach then do get in touch with Robert Starr at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887617 or by email at rlstarr@greenwoods.co.uk

Extension of Primary Authorities
On 6 April, Primary Authority relationships were extended to allow industry groups and trade bodies to set up primary authority relationships on behalf of their members.  A number of trade bodies, such as the British Frozen Food Federation, intend to apply to their local council to set up a primary authority relationship.  Such a relationship could cover trading standards, environmental health and fire safety issues.

Further, the List of Primary Authority Categories was revised to include categories as a result of changes made by the devoted administrations.  For example companies trading in Wales can seek advice from councils on single use carrier bag charges via the Environmental Protection category.

This minor amendment to the category description allows multi-site businesses to adopt a standard approach to compliance.

The category list is published by the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO).  It supports the Primary Authority Statutory Guidance. The list defines the categories under which a local authority can be nominated as a primary authority.

Action – To access this list, simply click here.

For further information about how a primary authority relationship could help your business, then please contact Charlotte Murray at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887620 or by email at clmurray@greenwoods.co.uk

Professor Elliott’s Report
The interim report into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks was published in December 2013.  The final report is expected in late spring, with dates in May and June being mooted.

Prof. Elliott was asked by the Secretaries of State for Health and the Defra to conduct a review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks; to consider issues which impact upon consumer confidence in the authenticity of food products, including systemic failures in networks and systems with implications for food safety and public health; and to make recommendations.  This was not a review into the incidents relating to finding horse meat in beef products.

In the interim report Prof. Elliott states that ‘a significant change in culture is needed to deal with the threats of fraudulent activity that exist along complex supply chains.  My review to date has identified a worrying lack of knowledge regarding the extent to which we are dealing with criminals infiltrating the food industry.  I believe criminal networks have begun to see the potential for huge profits and low risks in this area.  The food industry and thus consumers are currently vulnerable.  We need a culture within businesses involved in supplying food that focuses on depriving those who seek to deceive consumers.  A food supply system which is much more difficult for criminals to operate is urgently required’.

Action – Read the report by clicking here.

Should you have any queries on how the recommendations may affect your business then do get in touch with Kathryn Gilbertson at Greenwoods Solicitors LLP on 01733 887 621 or by email at kgilbertson@greenwoods.co.uk

Look out for our next bulletin when we shall consider the impact of the Groceries Adjudicator.