‘A New Association for a New Generation of Food’–25 Years of the CFA

In 1989 the contents of chill cabinets and fridges across the country were different. Fast forward 25 years and, while some things haven’t changed – the milk, cheese and juices are still there – they’ve been joined by other items. They now sit alongside ready to reheat and ready to eat meals, prepared salads, fresh soups and many other chilled foods.

Whilst we are all familiar with these innovations, the companies behind them largely remain anonymous. They produce own label brands for all the major supermarkets and many other outlets. And they work together to promote their internationally acclaimed standards of excellence through the Chilled Food Association, CFA.

Described at the time as “A New Association for a New Generation of Food’ CFA has represented the chilled food industry through its rapid evolution from a sector with a market value of £550m to the present day – where the market value in 2013/14 exceeds £11.4bn.

True to its mission “To promote and defend the reputation, value and sustainability of the professional chilled food industry through the development and communication of standards of excellence in the production and distribution of chilled food” the CFA has enjoyed an event-filled quarter century:


CFA launched 9 May at the International Chilled Food Fair. Under the chairmanship of Dr Tony Baird-Parker CFA publishes first ever guidelines for industry supported by its accreditation scheme and the creation of EFSIS to carry out independent auditing. The Guidelines and accreditation were launched by Rt Hon David Maclean, the Minister for Food Safety on 14 December. UK market in chilled food worth £550m.


A year of concerned headlines put the spotlight on microwave cooking, leading to changes in how oven performance was categorised, with CFA playing its role in the science. And in the following year…


The Food Safety Act came into force, use by dates first appear, with CFA involved in key meetings. The European Chilled Food Federation (ECFF) was established, with CFA as a founder member.


CFA continues to strengthen links with Whitehall, meeting senior ministers. Holds presidency of the ECFF.


Temperature control regulations published, with 5ºC or below stipulated. The second edition of the CFA’s Best Practice Guidelines is published.


CFA gives evidence to Ministers opposing relaxation of temperature control regulations requiring certain chilled foods to be stored at or below 5ºC.


On 1 January CFA became independent of the FDF (Food and Drink Federation). It establishes working groups focusing on the Environment and Distribution.


In a year when food is once again under the spotlight CFA takes an active role in the Government’s Food Safety Awareness Week.


The 3rd Edition of Best Practice Guidelines is published and endorsed by M&S, Safeway, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.


CFA gives evidence to Commons Agriculture Committee on food safety as part of Government’s preparation for the establishment of the Food Standards Agency (FSA).


The first CFA hand washing poster is produced, it proves to be a favourite not just across the industry but amongst teachers, Environmental Health Officers and many others. CFA also publishes its guidance on water quality, packaging hygiene guidelines and also launches its first generation website.


ECFF VTEC and Agriculture report presented to the European Commission. UK market worth £5bn.


The CFA site visits programme is started. The Food Industry Panels Group is established, working with other associations to identify best practice in the use of composite panels, minimising fire risk in factories.


First editions of CFA’s Hygienic Design Guidelines, Microbiological Guidance for Growers and Pesticides Due Diligence published. UK market worth £6bn


Fire Risk Minimisation Guidance published and taken up as basis of preferential insurance solution targeting compliant sites. UK market worth £6.6bn.


CFA £100k LINK research project on pathogen attachment initiated.


CFA secures EU agreement for risk based policy approach to Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in food. CFA publishes Guidance on the EU Microbiological Criteria for Foodstuffs Regulations (2073/2005) developed with British Retail Consortium and with FSA input. CFA’s Guidance on Microbiological Testing and its Interpretation also published. UK market worth £7.4bn.


4th edition of CFA Best Practice Guidelines published. CFA successfully lobbies for rejection of an FSA proposal to limit shelf life of chilled foods from 10 days to 5 days.


CFA announces the £750k SUSSLE (SUStainable Shelf Life Extension) project, supported by Defra. SUSSLE investigated the effects of heat processing on spore-forming pathogens, specifically non-proteolytic C. botulinum to define a milder heat process than previously recommended, ensuring a safe shelf life for prepared chilled foods whilst reducing energy usage. UK market worth £7.7bn


CFA secures change in FSA advice to consumers to no longer advise re-washing of pre-washed leaf. Kaarin Goodburn awarded the MBE for services to the food industry and appointed to the UN FAO/WHO Leafy Green Vegetables and Herbs Expert Group. CFA plays key role in securing international recognition at the CODEX Committee on Food Hygiene for the EU’s regulatory approach on Lm in food. SUSSLE begins.


CFA Chilled Prepared Food Sector Sustainability Aims agreed, focusing on energy, waste and water. UK market worth £10.1bn.


CFA/BRC/FSA ‘Guidance on shelf life establishment of ready to eat foods in relation to Lm‘ published.


Chilled Education launched to secure future of industry. CFA works with education and industry experts to produce a suite of classroom resources including free lesson plans and hands-on practical items – all designed to inspire and enthuse future generations of food scientists. UK market worth £10.6bn.


SUSSLE achieves its intended aims and is awarded the highest possible score by Defra’s Advanced Food Manufacturing LINK Programme Management Committee (PMC).


The £530k SUSSLE2 project supported by Technology Strategy Board begins. UK market worth £11.4bn. Chilled Education website expanded in response to interest and demand from teachers.


Chilled Education reports successful student placements. It is now working with more than 600 teachers in around 900 ‘cool schools’ and bringing the industry closer to thousands of young people at careers and science fairs. Market worth £11.4bn.