SUSSLE Project gets Top Marks from Defra

A three year research programme to sustainably extend the shelf life of chilled foods has attracted the highest possible score after evaluation by the government’s Advanced Food Manufacturing LINK Programme Management Committee (PMC).

The £750k Sustainable Shelf Life Extension (SUSSLE) project was partly funded by CFA and brought together academics and industry to investigate the effects of heat processing on sporeforming pathogens, specifically non-proteolytic C. botulinum. The aim being to define a milder heat process than is currently recommended, ensuring a safe shelf life for prepared chilled foods whilst reducing energy usage.

Outputs from SUSSLE will remain confidential until April 2014 however the project has now been evaluated by the Defra programme that jointly funded the work (together with CFA, BBSRC and Unilever). In his letter to CFA Dr David Cole, Programme Co-ordinator at LINK praised the project: “SUSSLE is an extremely good example of what can be achieved in LINK through a strong and focused industry-academic collaboration. The Project Management Committee has awarded a maximum score of 10.”

The PMC, which includes the project’s uncle Professor Peter Lillford CBE of the University of York said: “The project has delivered on ambitious objectives by taking a novel scientific approach to address important gaps in knowledge, deriving models of real potential for the industry and leading in its field.”

And speaking as Chairman of the Governing Trustees of the Institute of Food Research Professor Lillford added: “We are delighted to see the close co-operation of our scientists with industry. This is a fine example of how we would wish to contribute to the health and profitability of our UK industries.”

To ensure highest standards and a meticulous scientific approach an international Expert Group was recruited to monitor the work in an international context. The Group included Dr Roy Betts who is Head of Microbiology at Campden BRI: “I am delighted to have been part of this exciting and innovative project. The Expert Group played a critical role by ensuring continuous rigorous scrutiny of the science. Collectively we agreed and took decisions that will no doubt impact positively on the safety of chilled prepared foods in the UK and internationally for years to come.”

The international importance of the work is also being recognised, with the UK showing world-leading potential. Professor Martin Cole, Chief of CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Animal, Food and Health Science: “SUSSLE is the first application to safe shelf life extension of chilled food using the risk management framework adopted internationally by CODEX Alimentarius*. The approach represents a considerable advance to the work carried in the US and could form the basis for international agreement on the shelf life of chilled foods that could be promulgated through CODEX, giving the UK a leadership position in this field.”

Kaarin Goodburn MBE, CFA Director:
We are delighted that SUSSLE has not only achieved its aims of identifying a milder thermal process than that currently recommended, assuring safety, enhancing quality and potentially reducing thermal processing energy usage, but it has been rated so highly by the PMC. Our research provides a sound scientific basis for the shelf life of chilled prepared foods with respect to non-proteolytic C. botulinum. SUSSLE is potentially a game-changer for the industry and CFA Members now have a head start on the competition by being able work on making the most of SUSSLE, benefiting consumers, the environment and industry.

We would like to thank SUSSLE’s co-funders for supporting this unique and important work.”

Further research, SUSSLE2, which aims to extend the applicability of SUSSLE’s findings, has been confirmed by the Technology Strategy Board to be funded to the tune of £534k.
Notes to Editors 

* The Codex Alimentarius Commission, established by FAO and WHO in 1963, develops harmonised international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect consumers’ health and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade.

1 The £750k SUSSLE project ran from 1/12/08-31/3/12. Its findings are applicable to chilled foods all of whose components are thermally processed.

2. SUSSLE was co-funded by CFA, Defra, BBSRC and Unilever

3. Members of SUSSLE’s Expert Group included:

Dr Gary Barker, IFR
Dr Roy Betts, Campden BRI
Prof Martin Cole, CSIRO
Prof Mike Peck, IFR
Dr Peter McClure, Unilever

4. SUSSLE’s findings remain confidential to Full CFA members until 1/4/14

5. The science behind SUSSLE has been presented to the Food Standards Agency and senior technical representatives of major UK retailers

6. CFA was formed in 1989 to establish, continuously improve and promote best hygienic practice standards in the production of retailed chilled prepared food. CFA represents many of the leading names in UK chilled prepared food production, with a combined value of over £10bn, predominantly supplying the retail trade.

19 November 2012

Related Links

Chilled prepared food sector climate change mitigation progress and barriers

The chilled prepared food sector has delivered 21.4% energy reduction against an agreed target of 13.2% during the life of the Climate Change Agreement thus helping some other sectors under the FDF umbrella to meet their targets.

Given the sector is a large consumer of energy this represents significant savings and a major contribution to the Governnment and the food industry climate change mitigation programme.

Although the sector’s growth has some part to play we believe that chilled food manufacturers have at significant cost to their business made real and tangible changes in the way energy is consumed which has resulted in delivering 8.2% excess on the agreed target.

Some of the energy efficiency improvement changes made by CFA members and obstacles that will limit the scope of energy efficiency in the next few years are summarised.

12 September 2012

Teachers Get Filled in on Sandwich Production

Seven teachers from Northants and Leicestershire were the latest group to get a glimpse behind the scenes of the chilled food sector. They visited one of the region’s largest food manufacturers they are already taking that knowledge back to the classroom to inspire budding food scientists of the future.

The visit, to Samworth Brothers’ Melton Foods, saw teachers tour the factory floor and meet the teams responsible for producing for up to a million sandwiches a week on the site. They heard about food hygiene, storage and how new products are developed, giving them an insight into this fast moving sector of the food industry.

It was part of the CFA’s initiative to encourage more children and young people to think about technical careers in the production of chilled food. Chilled Education (www.chillededucation.org), has been developed to help address predicted skills shortages due to the lack of graduate recruits.

During the day teachers enjoyed first-hand experience of all aspects of chilled food production at Samworths and met the experts. They have now taken their knowledge back to the classroom together with free resources available from Chilled Education including innovative Glo-Germ kits, which memorably illustrate the importance of proper hand washing.

Head of Food Technology at Prince William School in Oundle Fiona Croft said: “The visit was informative and enjoyable. It was fascinating to see the science and skills that go into making the food we may often take for granted. I am already using the hand washing experiment resources to teach my pupils the importance of good hygiene. The HACCP information will be hugely beneficial in 6th form teaching.”

Mary-Ann Kilby, MD of Samworth’s Melton Foods site explains more: “Many young people do not realise the different and interesting jobs the chilled food industry can offer. We are therefore delighted to host visits such as these. They help to show how attractive this fast-moving and ever-changing environment can be and demonstrate the range of careers on offer to anyone interested in science.”

Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Secretary General adds: “The visit to Samworth Brothers is a wonderful example of how important it is for teachers to experience the industry first hand. Only then can they begin to pass on knowledge and inspiration to their classes. Attendees were interested to hear about current innovations and career opportunities for students. And they are passing their feedback and learning back to their colleagues, including curriculum managers. Which is exactly what we want to achieve through Chilled Education.”

The Chilled Education resources have been developed by CFA in partnership with the Design and Technology Association; they will help get the lessons into schools across the UK through their UK-wide network of over 6,000 design and technology teachers.

 

Notes to Editors
Teachers attended from: Beauchamp College, Oadby; Chenderit School, Banbury; Hastings High School, Burbage; Lancaster School, Leicester; Prince William School Oundle; Soar Valley College, Leicester and Leicester Education Business Company.

CFA Endorses Food Safety Week’s Labelling Focus

As the FSA reports consumers’ increasing use of leftover food to help family budgets CFA supports the Agency’s reminders of the importance of ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ dates. And CFA’s own initiative to educate consumers from an early age, Chilled Education, is already getting the message across to thousands of young people.

As part of Food Safety Week (11 – 17 June) the FSA reports that 52 per cent of consumers throw away less unused food than previously and over half (57 per cent) think that using left over food is a good way to save money. This, coupled with the rising popularity of chilled food, as reported by the CFA earlier this year*, underlines the importance of good food hygiene including adhering to ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ dates and storing food at the correct temperature.

CFA’s Chilled Education initiative is working with teachers and schools to inspire future generations of food scientists. A range of innovative on-line and practical resources explore all aspects of chilled food production from NPD to food safety best practice. CFA is supplying 30,000 easy to use LCD fridge thermometers free to schools.

As Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Secretary General says: “Our fridge thermometers serve a dual purpose of not only educating in the classroom but also taking the message home, literally. We need to do all we can to ensure that food safety information reaches consumers. And education around labelling is also crucial as people still rely on their own judgement to decide how fresh their food is. We are pleased to see the FSA’s focus on labelling. The Agency’s messages complement our work with young people and we believe will make a great contribution towards ensuring consumers enjoy fresh chilled food that is both good and safe to eat.”
Notes to Editors 

* In March 2012 CFA reported a six per cent growth in the UK chilled food retail market: https://www.chilledfood.org/MEDIA/NEWS/2012/Chilled+Food+Sector+Growing+Year+on+Year.

CFA’s consumer advice is at https://www.chilledfood.org/resources/handling-of-chilled-foods-consumer-advice.

CFA was formed in 1989 to establish, continuously improve and promote best hygienic practice standards in the production of retailed chilled prepared food. CFA represents many of the leading names in UK chilled prepared food production, predominantly supplying the retail trade. www.chilledfood.org

CFA launched Chilled Education in September 2011. Its aim is to inspire and enthuse young people to find out more about food and consider a career in the industry. Working with the Design and Technology Association (D&TA) Chilled Education combines teacher-generated free online classroom resources with the practical approach of bringing food professionals together with education professionals to share their skills, both in the classroom and factory.
11 June 2012

Chilled Food Sector Growing Year on Year

The trade body for the chilled food manufacturing sector, CFA, today reports a six per cent growth in the UK retail market. In 2011 the total sales in all retail chilled prepared food was £13,700,189,000 – an increase of £790m over 2010 confirming its position as one of the food industry’s most rapidly growing sectors. Even excluding retailed sandwiches, rolls, baguettes and wraps chilled food is currently worth £9.8bn pa having grown by 29 per cent (£2.16bn) since 2007. Chilled food represents some 13 per cent of the retail food market,

Chilled foods, such as prepared salads and ready meals are a staple of most fridges with the largest growth area being seen in salad and fruit. Spending on mixed tray salads is up by over one quarter (26 per cent) and on chilled prepared fruit it is up by 18 per cent. These foods reduce waste by cutting down the need for consumers to buy unnecessary or large amounts of ingredients (e.g. several different types of lettuce or fruit) which may only be used a bit at a time and which may then ultimately be wasted.

As Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Secretary General explain, busy lifestyles are prompting this rise: “We know that the average time spent preparing meals has fallen from two hours to just 20 minutes a day over the past two decades. And we are all too aware of the hectic lives we all lead. There is clearly a real need for food that is readily available and quick to prepare, but is also healthy, fresh and good to eat. Sales of stir fry products, for example, are up 11 per cent year on year.

“Businesses are clearly responding to consumer needs, with hundreds of new chilled foods coming onto the shelf every month.”

Data compiled by Kantar World Panel full breakdown 2007-2011

13 March 2012

CFA welcomes Defra National Statement on palm oil

CFA welcomes Defra’s National Statement on palm oil published today (30/10/12) to coincide with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil tenth anniversary convention in Singapore.

CFA urges adoption of 100% sustainable palm oil by 2015 by all food sectors.

CFA Members supply major UK multiples who are already committed to only sustainable palm oil usage by 2015, if not before, dependent on the retailer’s policy.

CFA Members producing the small numbers of chilled foods sold under their own brands are also committed to only sustainable palm oil usage by 2015.

Chilled prepared food sector climate change mitigation progress and barriers

The chilled prepared food sector has delivered 21.4% energy reduction against an agreed target of 13.2% during the life of the Climate Change Agreement thus helping some other sectors under the FDF umbrella to meet their targets.

Given the sector is a large consumer of energy this represents significant savings and a major contribution to the Governnment and the food industry climate change mitigation programme.

Although the sector’s growth has some part to play we believe that chilled food manufacturers have at significant cost to their business made real and tangible changes in the way energy is consumed which has resulted in delivering 8.2% excess on the agreed target.

Some of the energy efficiency improvement changes made by CFA members and obstacles that will limit the scope of energy efficiency in the next few years are summarised.

12 September 2012

Teachers Get a Lesson in Chilling from Food Industry

Eight teachers will get a unique glimpse behind the scenes of one the region’s largest food manufacturers next week, Monday 6 February, to learn more about the production of chilled food.And they plan to take that knowledge back to the classroom to inspire budding food scientists of the future.

The visit, to Greencore’s Northampton site, will see the teachers from schools in Northants and Leicestershire* tour the factory floor and meet the teams responsible for producing up to 400,000 sandwiches and wraps every day. They will hear about food hygiene, storage and how new products are developed, giving them an insight into this fast moving sector of the food industry.

It is part of a UK-wide initiative from the Kettering-based CFA (the Chilled Food Association) to encourage more children and young people to think about careers in the production of chilled food. The new initiative, called Chilled Education (www.chillededucation.org), has been developed to address predicted skills shortages due to the lack of graduate recruits.

During the day teachers will gain first-hand experience of all aspects of chilled food production at Greencore and a chance to meet the experts. They will then be able to use their knowledge back in the classroom with the other free resources available from Chilled Education including innovative Glo-Germ kits, which memorably illustrate the importance of proper hand washing.

Helen Dixon, Greencore Northampton’s Business Compliance Manager explains the significance of the visit:“Greencore is seeing the pool of qualified and enthusiastic potential employees slowly drying up as fewer and fewer young people choose to take up food science as a subject.We also suffer from less than positive perceptions of working in the food industry where young people believe the pay and working conditions to be unfavourable. We want to change those unfounded perceptions and one way to do this is to give teachers, and students, first hand experience. We look forward to welcoming our visitors and playing our part in securing the future for the industry by nurturing the next generation of chilled food professionals.”

Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Secretary General adds: “Chilled food is a feature of most people’s everyday lives, from the lunch time ready-made sandwich to salads, fresh pasta, and fresh prepared meals. And more foods are being developed by companies with jobs on offer ranging from technical positions to packaging designers. Greencore is an important local and national employer and is part of a larger industry servicing a UK retail market of over £9bn.”

The Chilled Education resources have been developed by CFA in partnership with the Design and Technology Association; they will help get the lessons into schools across the UK through their UK-wide network of over 6,000 design and technology teachers.”

Notes to Editors 

* Teachers will be attending from: Bishop Stortford School; Elizabeth Woodville School; Moulton School; Manor School and Sponne School in Northants and Ashby School and Our Lady’s Convent School Leicestershire.

The lesson plans for teachers have been developed by CFA in partnership with the Design and Technology Association, the professional association representing those involved in design and technology education and associated subject areas(www.data.org.uk/cfa).

Chilled Education’s lesson plans were developed by InspireEducation with CFA.

2 February 2012