CFA Annual Report 2023

CFA’s Annual Report for the calendar year 2023 has been published summarising key activities and aims including:

  • EU Listeria micro criteria: Leading Industry Listeria Group engaged with UKG and internationally building evidence base in readiness for EU consultation on potential changes to 2073/2005 requirements. Published guidance on effective environmental sampling and data usage, on action on detection of Lm/Lpp and evidence base  Aiming for EU law to retain current effective food safety measures including UK best practice. Briefings, webinars, in-person presentations to members, wider industry, enforcers and UKG.
  • Brexit: Established and leading SPS Certification WG (industry, certifiers, Port Health) engaging with UKG resolving issues and supporting  eCertification development. Tracking and reporting on EHC applicationscertifier burden and costs. Input into BTOM, WF and Trade and Business Commission seeking transparency on risk categorisation for food import rules and a UK/EU SPS veterinary and plants agreement to obviate EU-GB-EU trade bureaucracy.
  • Lm Biome: Developed validated micro method to improve Lm recovery and enable better assessment of microbial reduction efficacy, being used in CPS-funded project with CEBAS (ending 2024) with CFA 
    as an IKC partner. Method paper submitted by CFA for publication in peer reviewed journal and made available to members. Regulatory clarity sought on biocontrol agents.
  • Vac Pack/MAP: ACMSF’s Report on Botulinum Neurotoxin-Producing Clostridia reflects much of CFA input and recognises SUSSLE as an exemplar of multidisciplinary research. FSA 2020 guidance needs to be reviewed and amended to correct lethal rate table error, include toxin testing as part of any challenge testing, and remove non-science-based rules. No timetable yet from FSA for this work, which CFA is seeking.
  • Raw RTE fresh produce Spot Buying and Extreme Weather Protocol Guidance published
  • B. cereus and chilled food including produce: technical paper and statement published.

CFA’s priorities for 2023 cover:

  • Education/skills
  • Building knowledge
  • Lobbying for positive change
  • External engagement
  • Knowledge transfer

CFA April 2024 Newsletter

In this issue:

CFA & Policy:

  • Consultation on EU’s proposed changes to Listeria criteria open until 8 May: Companies are urged to respond to the consultation, at:
  • Listeria – improved enumeration method developed by CFA
  • Brexit – First Phase of BTOM implemented, Second Phase arrives 30 April
  • Health and Safety – the risks posed by flooring, footwear and frost
  • Climate Change Agreements
  • Sustainability: New recycling regime should exclude laminated board says CFA
  • Putting rapid environmental testing to the test
  • Making our (International Women’s) day – CFA’s Inspirational Women

35 Years of CFA:

Chilled Education;

  • Sharing knowledge and support online
    • British Science Week – Making time for science
    • STEM Platform: Online career talks
  • The bliss of food science comes to Blisworth School!
  • More fun food experiments!
  • Science Club resources developed
  • FDF Awards – Crossed fingers!

New recycling regime should exclude laminated board says CFA

CFA has endorsed a letter signed by various interested organisations on the current inclusion of laminated packaging in Defra’s Simpler Packaging Proposals (launched in October 2023 to simplify the ways people can recycle their waste at home).

Packaging used by CFA Members for the hundreds of millions of sandwiches etc consists of laminated board. This packaging is currently declared as recyclable. Dr Rachel Hackett, Chair of CFA’s Sustainable Development Working Group commented: “The laminated board components can be easily separated by the consumer for recycling purposes. The proposed changes to legislation in this area will negatively affect the position on recyclability. CFA therefore strongly supports the exclusion of such packaging from the scope of the Simpler Recycling regime.


April 2024

Making our (International Women’s) day – CFA’s Inspirational Women

 International Women’s Day 2024 brought good news for CFA with not one but two of the team honoured by the Women in Trade Association awards.


CFA Director General Karin Goodburn (right) was selected to be on the 2024 Women in Trade Associations Power List. The Trade Association Forum told Karin that her: “contribution and excellent leadership in your association and your sector over the last 12 months has been truly inspiring”. 


Meanwhile CFA’s Technical Chair Dr Nicola Wilson was chosen for the Outstanding Member Contribution list. 


Julia Garvey, Vice Chair of the Trade Association Forum said: “It was an honour to judge this year’s WITA list and to discover more about the outstanding women leaders within our industry. I hope this list shines a light on their achievements and provides the next generation with the inspiration and aspiration to follow in their footsteps.”




April 2024

Putting rapid environmental testing to the test

In January 2024 food hygiene companies Christeyns, Kersia UK and Neogen recently presented in a CFA Members’ workshop on their rapid environment test methods for Lm. The technologies explored offered benefits including user-friendly analysis, micro-organism specific tests and, results being available rapidly, but not instantaneously. Nemis also presented to Members in November 2023.


The session was well attended and a summary of key features of each system provided to members. CFA Technical Chair Dr Nicola Wilson said: “The presentations were really informative and it was useful to have an update and overview of new technologies available to support the industry with their Listeria Management Programs”


April 2024

More fun food experiments


CEd’s library of themed experiments and activities continues to expand. There are now more than 70 free ideas available on the CEd website and on Shopify ( Originally developed in 2020 to keep young scientists engaged when schools were closed due to COVID-19 the experiments continue to make learning fun and to inspire young minds.


As before young CEd team members Morgan and Tilly tried, tested and demonstrated the experiments which investigate scientific principles including diffusion, dissolving and osmosis. All the materials needed to making giant gummy bears, green eggs (below) and window clings (above) are easy to find, either at home or in most food shops.



The new experiments can be found on the CEd website:

April 2024

Science Club resources developed 

Chilled Education is always happy to respond to requests and suggestions so the team was delighted to launch its resources to support science clubs during this year’s British Science Week.


A specially tailored free to download pack of ideas explores five themes with activities listed online and free to download from the CEd website and Shopify. The majority use easy-to-access items, with instructions and science principles included for each experiment. 


Short experiments are also included to be set up at the end of the session ready to pick up in the next one.


As CEd’s Charlotte Patrick explains: ”We want to support teachers in their science teaching, both formal and informal. These ideas use easy to find materials and make learning fun – an important factor when it’s an informal club rather than a formal lesson. We look forward to sharing them more widely in the coming months.”


The resources can be easily downloaded from the CEd Shopify website.


April 2024

The bliss of food science comes to Blisworth School!

Young scientists at Northants’ Blisworth Community Primary School enthusiastically accepted the Glo Germ hand washing challenge when Charlotte visited in March. Head teacher Miss Jenkins reported of the ‘awe and wonder’ of the Year 3 pupils when the ‘magic light’ revealed the success, or otherwise, of their handwashing techniques. Charlotte also shared the science behind the experiment and has already been invited back to share more practical and fun science ideas.


April 2024



Health and Safety – the risks posed by flooring, footwear and frost

Information from CFA Members, and the experience of H&S managers, show slips and trips to be the most frequent cause of accidents in the chilled food sector.

A recent CFA H&S WG meeting included a session described as “share and steal” focusing on the issue. Covering everything from whole company campaigns to targeted improvements. Subjects included:


  • Flooring – while companies are instigating tighter specifications existing floors should be regularly measured or monitored as poor cleaning practice can lead to loss of anti-slip performance.
  • Footwear – one company reported a reduction in slips and trips after enforcing limited specifications for Wellington boots. If boots were not warm and comfortable, colleagues would wear several pairs of socks causing their foothold to be insecure.
  • Leisure and office areas are also sites of accidents and identifying these separately is helpful as they require different approaches to reducing the risk of slips and trips.
  • Frosty and wet weather can increase the risk of accidents when colleagues are coming to work or taking smoke breaks. These areas may come under a different management line from production areas.The group continues to share its findings across the membership as it continues CFA’s commitment to Health and Safety matters.

April 2024

Sharing knowledge and support online

CEd continues to take advantage of the many opportunities to connect in the virtual world with recent sessions organised in partnership with STEM Learning.

British Science Week – Making time for science

British Science Week in March gave CEd the opportunity to share its many popular resources. This included an online event for teachers in the East Midlands which was hosted by CEd at the invitation of the STEM Network.

The session was designed to support teachers with STEM activities, experiments and resources to help with science in the classroom. CEd’s Charlotte said: “We focussed on ideas that work well both in the classroom or a science club. Together with our young scientist Morgan I demonstrated scientific principles using food, such as using marshmallow to explain pressure. And we encouraged everyone to think about careers in the cool world of food science.”

STEM Platform: online career talks

The STEM Learning Ambassadors network asked CEd to work with them on a series of virtual talks for schools and colleges. CEd’s Charlotte developed a presentation to: ‘Inspire young people about food science and raise awareness of careers in chilled food industry’ She offered a 30min exploration of career the chilled food sector covering subjects ranging from the roles needed to make a chicken salad to the various routes into the industry.

Charlotte’s first session, one of the City of Liverpool College’s Meet the Professionals talks, was well-received and declared “very informative”.

She also talked to Birmingham’s Secret Garden School where the pupils were especially engaged and curious about careers in chilled food.

More sessions are planned following interest from schools.

April 2024


35 Years of CFA

For a certain generation 1989 is simply the title of a Taylor Swift album. While for others it’s a year of milestones: the fall of the Berlin Wall being most notable. It also marked the beginning of another era with the beginning of CFA: “A New Association for a New Generation of Food”.


Click here to explore CFA through the years.

And take a look at CFA News 41 which celebrated 25 years.


Listeria – improved enumeration method developed by CFA

A paper has recently been published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Control by Dr Nicola Wilson, Karin Goodburn and Dr Ken Johnston describing a method of membrane filtration to enumerate low levels of Listeria spp including Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) on salad leaf.

The paper is described in the abstract and is an enhancement of the legally recognised reference method (BS EN ISO 11290-2:2017), which is insufficiently sensitive to enumerate the low numbers of Lm in most commercially prepared leaf salads. more sensitive method is required to evaluate the impact of process changes and the effect of Listeria control mechanisms in chilled foods including salad leaf.

Results obtained by the new technique are reported showing enumeration of 5 CFU/g added Lm.

The full paper please can be found here.

April 2024

Brexit – First Phase of BTOM implemented, Second Phase arrives 30 April

The first phase of the Government’s Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) finally started to come into effect on 31 January.

Uncertainties and concerns over BTOM’s implementation for EU-GB trade were the catalyst for a letter sent to Steve Barclay, EFRA Secretary of State from the SPS Certification Working Group. In the letter the Group, which comprises some 30 trade and professional organisations (representing £100bn of the UK’s food supply, production and distribution chain, enforcers and port health), detailed 16 different concerns, and proposed solutions around four issues: BCPs, groupage, EHCs and Authorised Operator Schemes. Concerns included the lack of details regarding awareness of EU suppliers of the new rules, detail on customs charges, BCP locations, fees, product scopes and opening hours – despite their starting operation of physical checks at the end of April.

The letter sparked national and international media interest with journalists from the UK print and broadcast media, and internationally, all covering the story in some detail.

CFA DG Karin Goodburn chairs the Group and explains: “The major issues are lack of EU supply chain and system readiness for and flexibility of the new EU-GB requirements, which largely mirror those that have been required for GB-EU since 2021. The system is not designed for fast moving short shelf life just-in-time foods and needs to be redesigned to facilitate trade.

“Government colleagues are doing their best to work through the issues. However, time is not on our side and we are frustrated by the lack of attention being given to major faults in the system that could be corrected, e.g. lack of EU Member State 24/7/365 certifier provision, EHCs (and their translations) available for EU suppliers, tightening of the target APHA enquiry turnaround time and of prenotification windows, wider scope of groupage arrangements taking account of sophisticated electronic traceability from EU source to GB end product. Sadly, it points to a lack of understanding of our industry which will, if not addressed, put even greater pressure on food supply and food price inflation, which affects us all.”

The SPS Working Group is in regular contact with relevant Government departments to seek solutions and clarity however, at the time of, writing it has received no response from the Secretary of State.

The full letter, and background, can be found here.

Photo: Rocco Dipoppa on Unsplash

April 2024

EU proposed changed Listeria criteria consultation open to 8 May

The EU is consulting only until 8 May on proposed changes to L. monocytogenes (Lm) legislation. This would require Lm to be Not Detected (ND) throughout life in 25g if the Competent Authority is not satisfied with a product’s shelf life basis (criterion 1.2b).

This criterion applies to ready to eat foods supporting the growth of Lm but currently states ND at the point of last control by the producer. The industry position, substantiated by epidemiological evidence, is that the current law is effective when it is enforced including commercially, that ND is not based on science, will lead to reduced FBO monitoring of end product potentially leading to undetected loss of control, may require unpalatable reformulation or technological treatments not accepted by consumers, and that much more emphasis is required in law on production environment hygiene control since it is the primary cause of contamination leading to outbreaks according to the UN FAO.

CFA is leading on the industry response to the consultation. The Industry Listeria Group was established by CFA in May 2021 to share intelligence on UK, EU and other international developments (e.g. CODEX/WTO) in relation to Lm legislation and standards and prepare for, communicate to industry, the trade and respond to Government and agencies on any proposed changes to requirements with a view to protecting food safety best practice.

ILG’s Technical Lobbying Document is available here.  It is also the subject of meetings and webinars presented by CFA’s DG. These include European Federations (chilled, meat products, sprouted seeds, fresh produce, smoked salmon, dairy products), BRC’s Microbiology Working Group, Dairy UK and an online international conference titled ‘Listeria: Where are we?’, attended by over 250 people from around the globe.

Companies are urged to respond to the consultation, which is here


April 2024

CFA September 2023 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Brexit latest
  • Listeria focus – guidance docs and more
  • Botulinum report welcomed
  • CFA in numbers
  • Waste reduction success
  • Extreme weather guidance
  • H&S update
  • Risk assessment

Chilled Education news

  • BNF partnership
  • Shopify news
  • Forensics and food
  • Profile raising chilled jobs

Forensics in food science under examination

CEd has begun working with Northampton College on its Level 3 Applied Science and Level 4 Forensic and Criminal Investigation Courses. The latter requires many of the skills needed by food scientists and microbiologists. With crime-fighting CSI-style posts limited, there are many alternative opportunities for forensic minds in chilled food production. CEd will talk to students about careers in the food sector –something not normally considered by those on forensic science courses.

It’s a timely intervention as the students will be making their decisions on universities, apprenticeships and employment over the next six months.

Meanwhile, talks continue with Blisworth Community Primary School to develop a pilot to showcase CEd sustainability resources and experiments with the aim of offering it out more widely to schools.

September 2023

CFA’s Shopify success

More and more people have been using CFA’s Shopify website to easily access the ever-expanding portfolio of CFA and CEd resources. While its name is ‘Shopify’, it could more accurately be called an information library – filled with everything from technical guidance documents for the chilled food industry to practical resources for schools, around three quarters of which are free to download.

The popularity of the site is increasing every week, with orders and downloads coming in from countries in almost every continent. CFA’s Charlotte Patrick explains more: “We launched our Shopify site to help people enjoy quicker access to our resources. And it’s working. Our ‘customers’ include retailers, CFA members, schools, universities and local authorities. Orders are going up every month with over 250 in August alone – with most people making multiple orders. We can only see it becoming even more useful in the future as more resources become available and more CFA members increase their outreach activities.”

September 2023

Going on camera with the British Nutrition Foundation

Chilled Education was invited by the BNF (British Nutrition Foundation) to produce a video to be used in its Teaching Primary Food and Nutrition professional development programme. With the help of her young scientist daughters, CFA’s Charlotte Patrickcreated an information-packed 20 minutes, covering everything from simple experiments to careers in chilled food.

The programme aims to build confidence and competence in teaching food and nutrition, and BNF’s Education Services Manager Frances Meek said: “We were delighted that Charlotte could record a video for primary educators as part of our Teaching Primary Food and Nutrition CPD programme. The video showcases inspiring practical activities and resources for children to engage inscience and food science. It will help primary educators to use food as an exciting context for learning about science and developing transferable skills and knowledge.”

September 2023

Getting STEAMed up about food science!

In June, Chilled Education enjoyed its latest face-to-face event at the University of Northampton’s STEAM event. CFA’s Charlotte Patrick represented the CEd team and met with students and teachers to demonstrate the inspiring resources.

Organisers counted more than 2,500 school students and teaching and schools’ staff from more than 45 schools and colleges visiting the event, which is the biggest county ‘careers expo’ for 10 to 18 year olds.



Charlotte says: “We were delighted with the response from everyone who visited our stand. We demonstrated gas pressure, challenged young minds with MicroTrumps and, of course, tested hand washing skills with the Glo Germ kits. And seeing our banner used in the official photos from the event reinforced the importance of food science the STEAM portfolio.”

And the organisers, summing up the day, said: “The whole point of STEAM Northants is to inspire young people, opening their eyes about the possibilities in Northants and beyond and to let them explore and ‘have a go’ at some of the vast array of careers and professional areas available to them. To see them have ‘lightbulb moments’ and hear their whoops of delight just demonstrates what a success the event has been.” CEd’s inspiring resources can be found on its Shopify website

September 2023


Health & Safety update

CFA’s H&S Working Group shares factory floor experiences and best practice in managing the health and safety of the workforce. Using its data to compare accidents in the chilled sector and the wider food manufacturing industry (as defined in HSE annual statistics) it can be seen that, regarding health and safety, the chilled food sector is doing well, as the chart below shows:

‘Specified Injuries’ recorded by CFA members are on a long-term downward trend and their incidence is much lower than recorded by the HSE for the food manufacturing sector. This is good news and reflects the continuing attention health and safety receives in CFA member companies.

RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) accidents resulting in more than 7 days of absence have shown an undesirable increase in the last reporting year after a gradual downward trend from 2016-2021. While the incidence of RIDDORs in the sector remains far below the food manufacturing sector in general, the reasons for this trend need to be explored and ways found to reduce these accidents. After analysing the data CFA has identified several possible reasons for the adverse trend. One is the turnover of the workforce seen in recent years and the challenge of recruiting and training new operators. To address this, CFA is sharing company approaches to induction and training and drawing upon the experience of members in different sectors to learn from others and from what has been tried in the past when similar challenges have been encountered.

Phil Kelly, Group Head of Safety, Health and Environment at 2 Sisters Food Group and Chair of the CFA H&S Working Group: “The H&S Working Group was set up for members to share experiences and best practice. It is a forum where support and advice could be sought and is populated by like-minded individuals who strive to improve H&S performance within the sector and have a positive impact on the wider industry”

September 2023

Listeria on the agenda

The control of Listeria monocytogenes continues to be at the top of the agenda, with CFA Director General Karin Goodburn speaking at webinars and conferences over the summer months.

Royal Society of Public Health

June saw more than 75 representatives from enforcement, food production and government attend a Royal Society of Public Health conference to hear Karin, and other industry experts, discuss a range of issues from the EU’s potential changes to Listeria regulations to consumer food safety messages.


In July Karin spoke at a ‘very insightful’ BRCGS ‘Ask the Experts’ webinar. She joined Peter Littleton, Technical Director of Christeyns Food Hygiene to discuss Listeria management and field a live Q&A with questions from around the globe. The session also included an update on CFA’s lobbying work surrounding the potential changes to EU Listeria regulation.

Highfield webinar

Leading global work-based learning organisation Highfield recently (23 August) invited Karin to present on ‘Listeria: the law and best practice’ to food professionals in the UK, Middle East and further afield. The diverse audience working in food service and manufacture included restaurant managers, regulators and trainers. The presentation attracted the highest number of bookings since Highfield began the webinars in 2020, with more than 1,000 people registering and 660 attendees at the event. Karin’s presentation was warmly welcomed – one attendee later saying: “Bravo! Karin’s knowledge, enthusiasm for the subject matter is admirable. What a fantastic and engaging session! I feel motivated to take on a world of Listeria.”

September 2023

Managing impacts of extreme weather on fresh produce crops

The summer’s massive fluctuations in temperatures and rainfall, both in the UK and further afield, have underlined the importance of CFA’s new ‘Extreme Weather Protocol Guidance’.

The document, which has been trialled this summer by CFA Members, addresses issues posed by the extreme weather events which are increasing in frequency. Such weather can disrupt supply of fresh produce, affecting its availability, supply and quality, and increasing the risk of microbial contamination.

Both informative and practical, the guidance outlines procedures that can be followed, such as growers setting critical limits to trigger documented actions in response to extreme weather events. Monitoring of rainfall, for example, must be used to trigger additional controls post-extreme weather, when crops may be heavily soiled or sitting in standing water that may contain run-off from fields of livestock.

Dry periods demand increased frequency of microbiological testing and visual monitoring of water sources and storage facilities when water levels are low after prolonged dry periods.

As well as best practice examples, the guidance also has a sample risk assessment and lists of hazard microorganisms and common control failures.

PDM is one of the CFA members trialling the guidance. Its Technical Director Tariq Shaikh said: “Extreme weather conditions are becoming more regular, and working with outdoor grown crops presents a real risk. The guidance is designed to bring a consistent approach which I believe it delivers in a practical way.

“This year at PDM we have focused heavily on setting triggers for extreme weather events, specifically around temperature and rainfall. The guidance really helped to identify the key triggers for our business. This has resulted in quarterly reviews of raw material risk assessments and increased visual assessment and micro testing when the trigger points have been reached. The increased sampling brings an awareness to all teams and the confidence in knowing that the controls that we have in place are working.”

September 2023

Photo credit: Roger Bradshaw on UnSplash

Waste reduction success

Each year CFA members redistribute millions of food items, including chilled ready meals, sandwiches, desserts, pies and soups. In 2022 nine million meals went to those in need through partners such as Company Shop and FareShare. This means a total of almost 38.5 million meals have been redistributed by CFA members since 2017.

Dr Rachel Hackett, Chair of CFA’s Sustainable Development Working Group explains: “Our members are proud of the fact that for we continue to send no food waste to landfill, instead redistributing wherever possible. It is just one of a range of initiatives we have to reduce our impact on resources – from minimising waste from our factories to following responsible recycling practices. While we are pleased with what we’ve achieved we are not complacent. We will continue to innovate and improve towards meeting the needs of both people and planet.”

September 2023

Photo credit: Company Shop

Listeria environmental monitoring guidance welcomed

CFA’s highly regarded guidance documents remain central to its work and the industry is already welcoming the latest of these: ‘Principles of an Environmental Monitoring Program for the Management of Listeria monocytogenes’. This guidance is part of a package of work led by CFA in preparation for potential changes to EU legislated Listeria monocytogenes criteria (CFA News #59). That work has now largely been published at

The guidance sets out effective environmental hygiene management using monitoring and preventative and corrective actions and how to interpret this data and relate it to other results from raw materials, components and product. This gives much-needed detail to support good hygiene practice, particularly for SMEs and for enforcement not only by Competent Authorities but also commercially, e.g. by FBOs buying ready-to-eat ingredients from suppliers and for final product retail customers.

Hours after making the guidance freely available, industry colleagues were sharing and cascading it to their teams. They hailed the document as: ‘an excellent guide’, ‘a great document’, ‘extremely useful’ and commenting ‘bravo to those who put this together.’ Within a month there had been more than 200 downloads of the guidance.

The free guidance can be downloaded here.

September 2023

Brexit – Border Target Operating Model published setting rules for imports

Brexit continues to sit high on CFA’s agenda, with the Association leading in Government engagement on the future of trade between Great Britain, Northern Ireland (NI), the EU and Rest of the World (ROW).

As reported in CFA News #59, CFA continues to lead the SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) Certification WG in Government engagement on the future of trade between GB, NI, the EU and the ROW.

The UK’s Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) for imports has now been published, introducing new SPS certification requirements starting from 31 January 2024 for certain medium risk foods such as products of animal origin (POAO) from the EU. This represents a three month delay to the fourth delayed original implementation date.

There is also a three-month delay to the introduction of identity and documentation checks on medium risk POAO, plants and plant products, to 30 April 2024. The original 31 October 2024 date for the introduction of Safety & Security declarations for goods imported from the EU or other waivered territories remains unchanged.

The aim of the BTOM is to balance the need for imports for food security with the need to protect animal and human health from imported disease. From October, the Windsor Framework (WF) agreed in March will result in POAO imported into GB from ROW not being able to be included in foods sent to NI unless they have been ‘processed’ in GB. The ‘Not for EU’ label starts to be required in October for UK SPSsubject foods not having been certificated with an Export Health Certificate (EHC).

There remain a number of key issues to be resolved, including unclear definitions of ‘consignment’, ‘processing’ and ‘FBO number’ and the lack of a consolidated BTOM and WF timeline of milestones for FBOs to work to. CFA Director Karin Goodburn: “The lack of detail and clarity of terms and repeated delays to publication of the BTOM puts at risk the ability of GB industry to feed NI and how to advise EU ingredient suppliers of new requirements.

“EHCs needed for exportation to the EU are costing GB food industry about £4m a month and are to be required for sending SPS foods from GB to NI through the ‘green lane’ starting in October. EHCs will also be imposed by GB onto EU suppliers in January, potentially resulting in reluctance to supply GB with food. Given that more than half of all food comes from or through the EU, this again creates extra pressure on food supply. “

September 2023

Photo credit: Habib Ayoade on Unsplash

CFA responds to ACMSF Report on Botulinum Neurotoxin-Producing Clostridia

UK Government’s Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF), has been reviewing the risk basis of the FSA’s guidance on the control of non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum (npcb) in vacuum packed and modified atmosphere packed (VP/MAP) chilled foods. In June 2022 CFA Director Karin Goodburn presented evidence to the group (CFA News #58 & #59). ACMSF has now published its report on Botulinum Neurotoxin-Producing Clostridia. The report is available on on the ACMSF website.

CFA welcomes this Report, which not only updates the risk basis of the guidance but also extends the scope of interest to all Botulinum neurotoxin-producing Clostridia.

The Report reviews botulism incidents globally, noting they have only occurred in very rare occasions in chilled foods and only when not sold or stored chilled, and there is no correlation between the major growth in the chilled prepared food market and botulism.

We are pleased to see mention of our Sustainable Shelf Life Extension (SUSSLE) projects as a positive example of how collaborative research should tackle major food safety topics, and that a some of our key recommendations have been endorsed by ACMSF:

  • At the first opportunity to make explicit in guidelines that z = 7 and z = 10 centigrade degrees should be used to evaluate equivalent thermal processes for npcb for operating temperatures below and above the 90°C reference temperature, respectively. We would add as a matter of great concern about FSA’s/ACMSF’s internal processes that it should not have taken 11 years since first notifying FSA for this necessary change to be acknowledged, the lethal rate table having been identified by the first SUSSLE project and FSA-funded PhD by Ewelina Wachnicka to be incorrect below 90°C and reported by CFA and its research partners to FSA in 2012. This change needs to be made rapidly as companies are being charged consultancy fees for process evaluation using the incorrect values.
  • Toxin testing should be a minimum requirement for challenge testing. This needs amendment needs to be acted on rapidly, and is covered in the CFA/LFR/QIB/MLA/BRC guidance from 2018.
  • As part of the ‘7 ways to ensure safety’ “heat and preservative factors” is proposed to be removed from the FSA guidance to open up potential use of non-thermal processes. It is important to note that QMRA data such as that gathered in the first Government-funded SUSSLE project (AFM266) quantified npcb spore presence in raw material, and was published more than 7 years ago (open access): Barker et al, 2016. Where such data exist tailored thermal processes in combination with chilled storage should continue to be recognised. Several hundred SUSSLE-treated foods are on the UK market and have been for nearly a decade.


  • We note that current information does not facilitate revision of the current reference process, heating at 90°C for 10 minutes, but that there is strong evidence that this provides a lethality that exceeds the target 6 order of magnitude reduction in population size a product could be demonstrated to contain no lysosome, then it could have a longer shelf life than 42 days when using a process equivalent to at least 90°C for 10 minutes. It should be noted that the 6-log work (Fernandez & Peck, 1995) that is the basis of this figure of 42 days used 106 spores/ml in broth, which is not representative of any known loading or foodstuff. There are numerous foods on the market using 90°C/10 and more than 42 days without any issue. Lysozyme is not a widely relevant component of foods that are given such heat processing. Unless this is made clear in guideline reference to this will most likely result in enforcers and others unnecessarily seeking testing, wasting scarce funds and resources.
  • Other controlling factors, including herbs and spices, bacteriocins, phosphates, citrates, sorbates, sulphites, etc., can be highly variable in delivering consistent and reliable control of botulinum, and other botulinum neurotoxin-producing clostridia. FBOs relying on such controls must provide evidence demonstrating efficacy of the factors used for controlling these organisms in their foods as well as ongoing control and measurement. Guidance has been issued by BRCGS in relation to demonstration of safety of fresh meat and npcb, which we would take to be the basis of such an approach.
  • The Report recommends that FSA should consider commissioning a review of controls used in other countries for non-proteolytic botulinum in foods, to determine whether a subsequent exposure assessment should be undertaken for VP/MAP chilled foods in the UK. It needs to repeated that nowhere else in the world has such guidance as that issued by FSA as controls are simply based on knowledge of physicochemical growth/toxin production parameters as well as the selection and use of high quality raw materials. The 2019-20 review of the then FSA guidance in relation to fresh meat, which was outside the scope of this review for some reason despite the npcb spore loading being lowest of any food material categories (Barker et al, 2016 QMRA), found that FSA’s approach is reflected nowhere else internationally yet safety was assured through legislated GHP GMP requirements for abattoir operation and subsequent handling. There is similarly no equivalent guidance limiting shelf life in such a way as that from FSA does for other relevant foods, creating a barrier to internal trade in the UK and without enforcement on imported foods, penalising UK businesses, reducing shelf life and impacting on waste.
  • We would note that the current FSA VP/MAP guidance does not specifically cover product storage at less than 3°C as this is stated to be out of scope: “Below 3°C, non-proteolytic C. botulinum will not grow and produce toxin, so foods stored at less than 3°C are outside the scope of this guidance.” Unfortunately this is not explicit enough wording, creating an apparent grey area where there can be confusion including on the part of enforcers and FBOs. It needs to be made more explicit in guidance that it is a controlling factor for non-proteolytic botulinum, and it should state that storage where the warmest part of the food material can be assured to be <3°C (e.g. under controlled and monitored refrigeration) this does not encroach on shelf life with respect to the organism. This is reflected in SUSSLE rules which state that such storage time can be added onto the shelf life with the note that other pathogens e.g. L. monocytogenes can grow at temperatures down to as low as -2°C (source: EU Lm RL shelf life guidance, 4th ed, 4/7/21) so their potential growth must be considered when setting shelf life.

We are ready and willing to continue to support the further development of necessary guidance but with the aim of keeping it simple and clear particularly so those FBOs lacking major technical resource, end enforcers, can make appropriate use of it to protect food safety, whilst reflecting scientific developments in the last decade or so.

For more information visit:





CFA Publishes 2022 Annual Report

CFA’s Annual Report for the calendar year 2022 has been published summarising key activities and aims including:

  • EU Listeria micro criteria: Established and leading Industry Listeria Group engaged with UK
    Government and internationally with industry in readiness for EU consultation on potential changes to
    requirements. Developed lobbying strategy and summarised evidence base including guidance on
    effective environmental sampling. Aiming to retain current effective food safety measures.
  • Lm Biome: Developed validated microbiological method to assess microbial reduction efficacy. Partner
    in CPS-funded project with CEBAS (starting 1/1/23).
  • Incoming raw material positives: impacts assessed (person days, cost) to help focus best practice
  • Brexit: Composite products focus. Established and leading SPS Certification WG of industry, certifiers
    and Port Health engaging with Government resolving issues and supporting eCertification
    development. Tracking & reporting on EHC applications, certifier burden & costs.
  • Briefing documents published on: raw RTE beetroot and onion safety best practice, relevance of
    generic E. coli and STEC testing to food safety, ethical employment in agriculture and food production
    and sustainability in agriculture and fresh produce.
  • Vac Pack/MAP foods: CFA gave evidence to the ACMSF’s risk review of original 1992 guidance, aiming
    for retention of flexibility for SUSSLE and removal of non-science-based rules.
  • CFA Board: membership criteria reviewed and Board refreshed.

CFA’s priorities for 2023 cover:

  • Education/skills
  • Building knowledge
  • Lobbying for positive change
  • External engagement
  • Knowledge transfer


CFA April 2023 Newsletter

In this issue

  • Brexit latest
  • Vacuum Packed/ MAP foods: ACMSF risk review
  • On the road to net zero
  • Latest on the EU’s proposed Listeria legislation
  • Chilled market data
  • Signing up to H&S strategy
  • FSA’s PDM site visit
  • New spot buying protocol
  • CFA branded cup cakes
  • Fresh produce activities
  • Colleague honoured

Chilled Education news

  • The many uses for the versatile UV torch
  • CEd overview
  • Resources on Shopify
  • Supporting partners

FSA Vacuum Packing/MAP Guidance – more questions asked


In June 2022 CFA Director General Karin Goodburn MBE gave evidence to the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) Subgroup conducting the review of the entire risk basis of the FSA Guidelines on the control of non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum in the vacuum and modified atmosphere packaging of chilled food (CFA News 58) and looking more widely at botulism risks.

The subgroup was not authorised by FSA to review the guidance in relation to fresh meat although industry maintains that it does not reflect internationally-established risk. CFA is seeking correction of technical errors and removal of UK-only technical barriers to businesses. Instead, as is standard for other pathogens, information required for the use of HACCP should be provided by FSA including continuing to allow the use of risk-based data for the use of novel thermal and other processes.

Critical corrections needed include testing methodology to focus on toxin testing, and amendment of FSA’s lethal rates table, which CFA has advised FSA for more than a decade does not deliver the stated 6-log process below 90 degrees C. At least one consulting laboratory is using the incorrect data in reviewing companies’ thermal processes, potentially compromising food safety.

The Subgroup Chair gave a verbal update on the subgroup’s Report at the 9 February ACMSF meeting, but the Report was not circulated. Karin Goodburn put further questions/comments at that meeting and explains: “Although the Report has not been circulated we welcome the indication of the long awaited amendment of the lethal rate table and inclusion of toxin testing, but need reassurance from FSA that incorrect content of its documents will be corrected swiftly.

“The urgency of this cannot be underestimated and we remind ACMSF that this has been stated by industry to FSA for many years but not acted on. Our final question surrounds timing; apart from the immediate actions needed to safeguard consumers, we call on FSA to tell us when the work on revision of the current guidance will start, whether CFA will be involved and how enforcers will be advised to act in the meantime.”

The subgroup’s report was expected in Q1 2023, with ACMSF next meeting on 22 June 2023.

April 2023

CFA’s dataset central to preparing response to awaited changes in EU Listeria regulations – but more involvement needed from other sections of industry

Work continues on building a consortium of European and international industry and the industry Response to the EU’s awaited but undefined proposed changes to Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) legislation (EU Microbiological Criteria for Foodstuffs Regulation 2073/2005) (CFA News #56 and #57).

Potential changes to the regulation include:

  • loss of 100 cfu/g as an upper limit and introduction of zero tolerance/not detected in 25g
  • requirements to set shelf life by challenge testing and not durability testing.

This is the most important policy matter for the UK industry, which can demonstrate through hard data (epidemiology, food and environmental sampling) that its approach is much more effective from a public health perspective than that in other major European countries and across Europe, the UK listeriosis rate consistently being half that of Europe as a whole.

The latest version of the draft Response summarises how shelf life should be set (knowledge of foods’ physicochemical properties combined with durability studies and a stream of food and environmental data and Supplier Quality Assurance, particularly of RTE components) and how environmental data should be collected and used proactively to identify issues and demonstrate control. It has received support from the food industry in the UK and across Europe, including retailers, food producers and associations. It is vital that not only UK businesses/associations make submissions to the EC, once proposals are consulted on.

As the UK is no longer an EU Member State it has few routes to influence the EU. Despite CFA engagement over nearly two years, FSA has not yet given any firm indication as to how it will respond to the expected EU consultation on changes to current legal requirements.

CFA is rare in having to hand a wealth of data from its members collected over nearly 20 years – its four million datapoints in the last 12 years alone on prevalence and (for foods) counts of Listeria – the largest data set of its type in the world. The dataset is a powerful tool to help demonstrate efficacy of controls in place in the UK industry for RTE chilled prepared foods.

Karin Goodburn explains further: “The UK chilled food sector’s effective implementation of the regulations demonstrates that enforcement, not a change to the law, is required to improve food safety.

“For example if there were mandatory challengetesting this could cost the UK chilled food industry ~£150-£225 million without any food safety benefit where UK industry best practice established over 30 years as set out in the Response, nor the current EU legal position is in place.

“We will continue to challenge promotion of unnecessary expensive testing diverting limited funds from actual food safety controls, and encourage our industry colleagues to do the same. Only by working together with one voice can we stop these unnecessary and potentially dangerous changes to a piece of legislation that when applied as designed has worked well for almost two decades.”

April 2023

Brexit latest: New arrangements are clarity light but (potentially) burden heavy

Brexit continues to sit high on CFA’s agenda, with the Association leading in Government engagement on the future of trade between Great Britain, Northern Ireland (NI), the EU and Rest of the World (ROW).

The Windsor Framework (WF) was agreed in March by the UK and EU Parliaments, and the draft Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) published on 5 April. Both set out new intended reduced bureaucracy approaches on GB-NI (WF) and ROW-GB (BTOM) trade in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) food and feed.

Measures will start to come into effect in October. However, as with many post-Brexit trade arrangements, the announcements leave little time not only to establish and address missing necessary detail of mechanics but also for preparation and potential systems and supplier changes by businesses. There is continuing uncertainty concerning how any new currently unspecified arrangements will operate and doubts as to how practicable, affordable, and therefore successful, finalised requirements will be. The Grocer reports several GB-based food businesses have already stopped trading with NI under previous rules and inconsistency of messages regarding required paperwork for the new WF system. Whilst recognising the need to protect GB biosecurity there are concerns that new BTOM barriers to EU-GB trade may negatively affect food security.

Companies are advised to sign up for Government briefings on its website here.

Meanwhile CFA, as the lead for the SPS Certification Working Group (CFA News 58), continues to engage with Defra, FSA and the Cabinet Office – including regular sessions on the WF, the BTOM, the Ecosystem of Trust and Assured Trusted Trader Scheme and eCertification – on the resolution of issues with Export Health Certificates (EHCs) and triangular trade.

Additionally, CFA and the SPS Cert WG have submitted evidence* to the latest inquiry by the UK Trade and Business Commission into the main challenges facing businesses post Brexit. The Commission is developing a blueprint for how the UK should be negotiating trade deals to boost economic growth for a better future for the UK. The submissions set out challenges currently faced by the food industry including staff shortages, bureaucratic barriers and uncertainty around a timetable of action.

The SPS Certification WG is also finalising analysis of data from the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency for certification of GB-EU export of Products of Animal Origin from December 2020 to January 2023. Current figures suggest that in that period, 611,852 EHCs were issued at an estimated certification cost to food producers of £123m, representing profit from sales of £6.1m of food, and requiring 607 years of certifier time. This bureaucratic and financial liability did not exist before the UK left the EU and increased exports have not manifested to cover these new trading costs.

* CFA’s evidence can be seen here.

April 2023

Market data: hot summer helps salads…and we’re going to work on a wrap!

The  legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to resonate across the chilled food sector and is reflected in the latest market data compiled for CFA. While the rise in sales has slowed compared to pre-COVID years, there is still a 3.9 per cent year-on-year increase.

In 2022 consumers spent almost £10.5bn on chilled food with chilled ready meals continuing to grow in popularity – 7.1 per cent in 2022 and 40 per cent above pre-COVID – with a hot summer boosting sales of chilled prepared salad trays by 14 per cent more than pre-COVID. The gradual return to offices reveals some interesting preferences – sales of ‘out of home’ sandwiches, rolls, baps and baguettes increased by 12.7 per cent, but it’s wraps that are proving popular – up by 16.1 per cent and 33 per cent above pre-COVID market sales. This figure reflects the growing trend (reported inthe UK  Food To Go Market Report 2023) for so-called ‘snack to go’  purchases, which includes smaller, lower cost food items such as wraps.

A full breakdown of the market data, commissioned from Kantar, is available here.

Image: Greencore

April 2023

Ursula Lavery MBE

CFA was delighted that Ursula Lavery, Technical and R&D Director Europe, at Member company Moy Park was awarded an MBE in His Majesty The King’s New Year Honours List for services to the Agri-Food Industry and to the Economy in Northern Ireland.

“Congratulations to a great person doing great work!” is how CFA welcomed the news.




April 2023

New activities on fresh produce intended to be eaten raw

CFA is developing a new online E.coli data collection system for its member companies. Data collected will focus on raw material and on irrigation water used to grow fresh produce to be eaten raw.

Many thousands of samples are taken by CFA members each year, so the new system will facilitate benchmarking and potential identification of issues by members and CFA.

April 2023

On the road to net zero

CFA is on the advisory board of the new Transport, Industrial and Commercial Refrigeration (TICR) project, an initiative to investigate energy use and CO2 emissions from UK transport, industrial and commercial refrigeration sectors.

These sectors are major users of energy and will play a critical part in the UK’s net zero agenda. By focussing on specific sectors, including food and drink manufacturing sites and transport refrigeration units, TICR will produce roadmaps, benchmarks, sector-specific guidance and training events to help direct the sectors to net zero.

A website has been launched,, containing news, background information and guidance, as well as details of how companies can contribute to the research.

The project is being led by London South Bank University with partners Carbon Limiting Technologies, the Carbon Trust, Carbon 3 IT, the Centre for Sustainable Cooling at the University of Birmingham, the Institute of Refrigeration and Star Technical Solutions. It also has the support of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

See these pages for information on CFA’s sustainability activities.

April 2023

FSA visits PDM’s Shropshire site

Blue skies and green crops welcomed a team from the Food Standards Agency to PDM’s site in Shropshire last October. PDM’s Technical Director Tariq Shaikh explains: “This was a proactive visit and it was great to meet the team behind the FSA. The aim of the visit was for the FSA to understand the activities and processes involved in being a ‘grower packer’.

“I think the FSA team were surprised with the scale of the farming operation and enjoyed watching the harvesting and packing of whole head iceberg lettuces. “From speaking with the FSA, I learned that a lot of their team are office based and had not seen a manufacturing site before. They were very interested in the end-to-end process of prepared salad and appreciated the investment, process and controls in practice to manage food safety.”

April 2023

Spot buying protocol


Fluctuations in food supplies can lead to use of spot buying. This needs working to preagreed protocols and careful monitoring to ensure compliance with agreed standards of food safety and quality. CFA’s new Spot Buying Protocol is now available as a free download from the CFA website and is applicable to all purchasers of fresh produce that is intended to be RTE.

CFA signs up to HSE Common Strategy

CFA Members’ commitment to health and safety is again evidenced by the Association’s influential involvement in a revised food industry worker safety strategy.

The Health and Safety Executive’s Food and Drink Manufacturing Forum’s (FDMF), Common Strategy for Improving Health and Safety in the Food and Drink Manufacturing Industry 2021- 26’ is an HSE initiative to engage with trade bodies and unions in the food manufacturing sector to enhance worker safety. This latest version contains revisions suggested by CFA, including specific details that help implementation. It also includes a call for greater leadership involvement in H&S issues and monitoring the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Ken Johnston, Secretary to the CFA H&S Working Group, explains: “Our Members have a duty of care to over 100,000 colleagues and their health and safety is a high priority. We are pleased not only to be a signatory to the strategy but also to have been involved in its development. It provides an invaluable road map to improve health and safety and we commend it for adoption by member companies.”

More on CFA’s work on Health & Safety can be found here and  here


Image: Greencore


CFA hits a sweet spot!

The CFA logo appeared in the sweetest of places recently – on top of cupcakes specially made by Samworth Brothers for a two-day senior leadership conference. More than 100 delegates in departments ranging from Group Technical to Group IT Group gathered to celebrate 2022’s achievements and explore future plans. During breaks, Group Functions had ‘expo’ stands to present case studies and Samworth’s ways of working with its internal and external stakeholders.

The breaktime treats were decorated with logos of the organisations they work with. CFA supplied the Group Technical team with MicroTrumps, fridge thermometers and Nanobugs temporary tattoos which made its stand informative and interesting and “went down a treat”.

MicroTrumps and other resources are available from the Chilled Education shop 

April 2023

Shining new light on the UV torch

One of CEd’s most popular resources is the Glo Germ Handwash Training Kit. The kits include a UV torch to highlight good (or bad) handwash technique. But the torch has more uses and can make more than just hands glow – as the CEd team have been discovering.

The UV torch picks up the fluorescent qualities of tonic water, security marks on bank notes, unwelcome fluids in the bathroom and much more. The CEd website has many more ideas as well as Glo Germ Handwash Training Kits, and the individual UV torches, to buy. The kits cost £54 and UV torches are £10.


April 2023



Resources now available on Spotify

CFA and Chilled Education are making it even easier for people to get resources ranging from technical guidance to lesson plans and MicroTrumps sets. They can all be found via the online buying portal Shopify. As CFA’s Charlotte Patrick explains: “The Shopify system means a quicker response time for anyone ordering resources from us, and streamlined payment processes help keep costs down.

All the items can still be found on the Chilled Education and CFA websites with no need for extra clicks – the system takes you seamlessly through.” It is already proving successful, with monthly orders more than doubling as the year progresses.


The Shopify resources pages can be found at 

April 2023

We’ve got food science covered


In the 11+ years since Chilled Education began, it has continually evolved to meet the changing needs of teachers, students and anyone involved in getting more young people interested in food science and careers in the chilled food industry.

In the early years it was about the free lesson plans. Designed by science and food science teachers for fellow teachers, they cover everything from hygiene and taste to microorganisms, for Key Stages 1-4. Alongside this, CEd developed innovative resources including the MicroTrumps top trumps game which have also proved useful and informative to other colleagues, including Environmental Health Officers and Government scientists.

Chilled Education also took its resources, and its experts, on the road. The team were joined by colleagues from CFA member companies, happily sharing their knowledge and first-hand industry experience with curious young scientists and interested teachers at science and careers fairs. Those experiences are also shared on the Chilled Education website which has many real-life career path insights and case studies from people at all stages of their chilled food careers. For a while, COVID-19 brought face-to-face events to a halt and closed schools. So, like many organisations, CEd pivoted!

CFA Operations Manager Charlotte Patrick picks up the story: “We wanted to continue to support science teaching in a fun and accessible way that could be done at home. So we developed our Store Cupboard Science experiments. I enlisted my two young scientists to demonstrate our ideas in photos and videos which helped make them understandable and relatable. The girls had fun and were inspired to do more. We realised we had a winning formula, using everyday items and ingredients to explore the science of food – from DNA in strawberries to exploding cola. Now we have more than 70 experiments on our website – and we’re developing more all the time.”

A full list of all the Chilled Education lesson plans and Store Cupboard Science experiments, with their links, can be found on the Chilled Education website

April 2023

CFA Spot Buying Protocol


CFA members are required to use raw materials sourced from reputable approved suppliers, and therefore have procedures in place for their approval. For produce this includes compliance with CFA’s ‘Microbiological Guidance for Produce Suppliers to Chilled Food Manufacturers’.

Fluctuations in food supplies can lead to use of spot buying. This requires working to pre-agreed protocols and careful monitoring to ensure compliance with agreed standards of food safety and quality.


CFA’s free downloadable Protocol for Spot Buying of Produce to be Used as Ready to Eat sets out key requirements on certification, microbiological safety, pesticide residues and contaminants, and quality standards and specifications. It also offers further information on the required standards.

March 2023


CFA Briefing – Relevance of generic E coli (inc testing issues) to food safety

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium commonly found in the gut of humans and warm-blooded
animals. Most strains of E. coli are harmless and some provide many health benefits to the host; for example,
they prevent colonisation of the gut by harmful pathogens.

However, there are small groups of E. coli, referred to as pathogenic E. coli, that can cause severe disease in
humans, which are well known to be transmitted by food and/or water and have been implicated in major
foodborne outbreaks worldwide e.g. radish sprouts in Japan, sprouted seeds in Germany and France, raw / undercooked
beef products in the UK and USA.

This briefing note looks at the relevance of generic E. coli to food safety referring to fresh produce and is also relevant to all food types.

With sections including transmission, testing and prevention it concludes:

  • A positive for E. coli O157 alone may not cause illness.
  • The stx (Shiga toxins) gene has to be isolated in an E. coli, usually with a gene for attachment for the isolate to cause serious illness.
  • All parties agree with the confirmed stage of the method, but FSA’s decision to call isolation of stx alone as presumptive is misleading.
  • Action required in the event of a presumptive result is inappropriate and not possible for the industry.
  • Food safety can only be controlled by routinely testing for indicator organisms e.g. generic E. coli and monitoring trends to proactively prompt investigation.
  • HACCP and PRPs are paramount, supported by environmental and product monitoring.


CFA 057 22 Briefing paper – relevance of generic E coli (inc testing issues and STEC) to food safety


CFA: Best practice in the preparation of beetroot and onion for minimally processed, RTE applications

In response to CFA members’ request this downloadable free best practice guidance on beetroot and onion has been developed for chilled food producers who are using raw salad and vegetable ingredients where the edible portion is grown in the ground and the final foods are (ready to eat) RTE.

The two vegetables are among certain raw materials that can prove difficult to source and process satisfactorily for a ‘minimally processed RTE’ application.

Both are deemed as a ‘high risk ingredient’ for a number of reasons: they are grown in soil and subject to more soil contamination; the small quantities used do not attract the same level of technical and procurement focus as other ingredients; the majority of the beetroot or onion used is likely to be cooked and upstream supply chains may not be meeting the usual food safety standards that manufacturers of RTE products are used to. And outsourced processing operations many not always use the correct approach to food safety in minimally processed RTE foods.

This guidance sets out a strategy to help minimise potential Listeria contamination. It includes a checklist of points to address when visiting a supplier, a comprehensive list of the risks to be aware of and the procedures that should be followed to minimize or eliminate this risk.

FBO procurement teams need to recognise the challenges and adapt their processes to reduce risk.  Suppliers of these ingredients for minimally processed foods must be approved and appropriately risk assessed as suitable.

Effective HACCP involving comprehensive assessment of risk is also critical. Where ingredient-specific risks are identified, these must be addressed using appropriate processes and controls.

As well as providing specific best practice guidance on risk management for beetroot and onion, the principles can be applied to other minimally processed RTE ingredients where the edible portion is grown in the ground, such as carrots and spring onions.

Chilled Food Association guidance (notably ‘Microbiological Guidance for Produce Suppliers to Chilled Food Manufacturers’ and ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Manufacturers of Chilled Food’) remains entirely relevant.

November 2022

Photo: rasa-kasparaviciene-kmaHZV6MNQI-unsplash

CFA October 2022 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Keeping affordable food on tables   
  • Latest on the EU’s proposed Listeria legislation
  • Listeria shelf life guidelines challenged
  • New best practice guidelines for onion and beetroot
  • 29 million meals redistributed
  • Data collection and use
  • Biocides
  • Brexit paperwork solutions
  • New honour
  • Vacuum Packed/ MAP foods: ACMSF risk review

Chilled Education news

  • Exploring the science of sandwich making
  • New case studies shared
  • Resource refresh for industry colleagues
  • Store cupboard science
  • Inspiring with experience


Exploring solutions to Brexit paperwork

The consequences of leaving the EU continue to impact the food industry with the issue of certification red tape and its associated costs (CFA News 55, 56 & 57) impacting on viability of exports to the bloc. Industry efforts to propose and help test potential solutions, including the trialling of e-certification, continue in earnest and regular sessions of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Working Group chaired by Karin Goodburn are being held with the UK Government. Meanwhile the certification paperwork (estimated to be costing industry ~£60m in 2021) continues at a rate of about £4.5m a month to mount, even though exports to the EU are down.

In addition, the Government’s Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which is expected to pass through Parliament next year, may result in the scrapping or amendment of a raft of legislation, raising concerns regarding the future ability to trade with the EU and potentially internally within GB and the UK.

Image Alexandre Lallemand on Unsplash

October 2022


The Food and Biocides Industry Group (FBIG) has written to the World Trade Organization, European Commission, the UK Government and European trade federations highlighting fundamental issues regarding the incorrect legal basis being used by the EU to regulate hygiene biocides, i.e. as plant protection products (PPPs). This follows the EU planning to halve the Maximim Residue Limits (MRLs) for the quaternary ammonium biocide didecyldimethylammonium chloride (DDAC) in products of plant origin.

The EU does however appear to continue to recognise the importance hygiene biocides play in assuring food safety and the necessary use of DDAC in production of products of animal origin as they are not proposing a similar MRL reduction for those foods. This point was secured by FBIG in 2017 (CFA News 47). FBIG contends that contaminants legislation would be the most appropriate regulatory approach for hygiene biocides, not PPP law.

October 2022


The honour is all hers!


In April, CFA Director General Karin Goodburn was awarded this year’s Honorary Fellowship of the IFST

The highly prestigious award recognises an IFST Member or Fellow who has made extensive personal contributions to the working and progress of the Institute and to the food science and technology profession.

On receiving the honour Karin said: “Food science is more than a single discipline, encompassing pure science, technology, nutrition, sustainability and food security. I maintain that any subject can be taught using food as the focus, and that food teaching should draw on food science in its broadest terms. No one can live without food so its future has to be nurtured through inspirational teaching and communication at all levels by all of us in the profession, supporting IFST.”


October 2022


Tens of millions of meals redistributed


CFA continues to show its commitment to sustainability with the news that, since 2017, its members have redistributed more than 29 million meals.

These were primarily chilled ready meals, sandwiches, desserts, sandwich fillers, pies, soups and sauces. Redistribution of such large quantities is made possible through CFA members’ partners including FareShare and the UK’s largest redistributor of surplus food – Company Shop. Some meals were sold in CFA members’ staff shops at a discounted price.

FareShare passes on the food to charities and community groups that provide to those in need, and Company Shop resells to its members, which include NHS employees, members of the armed forces and those in receipt of means-tested benefits, providing them with access to low-cost food, advice, mentoring and support. They also operate Community Shop, a social enterprise that helps people living in deprived areas.

Dr Rachel Hackett, chair of CFA’s Sustainable Development Working Group explains “We are especially proud of our success in this field. Not just because of the quantities of meals but due to the nature of the foods involved. The short shelf life of chilled food means that it has to be distributed as soon as possible to retain its safety and quality making it a fast-moving and highly time-sensitive operation.”

October 2022

EU’s proposed Listeria legislation latest

The EU’s proposed potential changes to Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) legislation (CFA News #56) continue to attract attention. It is understood that next year (2023) the EC will engage with Member States to seek a common understanding of the rules. A recent European Court case has raised clarifying points regarding the interpretation of criteria and, could result in major changes to Lm criteria in the EU Microbiological Criteria for Foodstuffs Regulation 2073/2005 and, potentially, to established effective approaches to shelf life validation and verification of ongoing control.

The expanding Industry Listeria Group (ILG) run by Karin Goodburn comprises more than 30 CFA members, UK trade associations, retailers and the European meat processors’ association (CLITRAVI). The ILG’s Position has also been endorsed by the European Chilled Food Federation and is broadly supported by the European Salmon Smokers’ Association.

The Position on the potential changes opposes challenge testing to set shelf life rather than established methods such as storage trials combined with data streams from Day of Production and End of Life sampling coupled with environmental monitoring data. Given the common root cause of listeriosis outbreaks being insufficient environmental hygiene controls, specific guidance for FBOs and enforcers on effective environmental sampling and the use of data gathered is being developed by CFA to support the Position.

October 2022

A mine of information – data collection and use

The CFA members-only, confidential microbiological databases collect and store members’ sampling data for Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) and Bacillus cereus (B. cereus).

CFA’s Lm survey was established in 2003 to assess and demonstrate the efficacy of the industry’s controls and provide for benchmarking. It comprises some 4 million food and production environment datapoints entered by CFA members, shared with fellow member contributors on a consolidated basis. This provides valuable benchmarking information for members and, when appropriate, the wider food industry via briefings by CFA. The consolidated Listeria and B. cereus datasets are available to all contributing CFA members.

The B. cereus dataset of CFA members’ routine testing of fully thermally processed non-High Care foods has been compiled since 2014. It is used by CFA to monitor foods that have been produced using the SUSSLE Process – a specific thermal process giving chilled foods extended shelf life. Every two years SUSSLE users must undergo training by CFA and pass an examination to retain access to thetechnology and associated software. Nine major UK retailers have signed confidentiality agreements with CFA enabling eligible manufacturersto supply them with chilled foods using SUSSLE.

In 2021/22 CFA brought the SUSSLE software and the Listeria and B. cereus databases together into one system. Development of the new user management system, due for introduction by Q1 2023, is designed to enable members to manage colleagues’ use of the system, improving functionality. The SUSSLE user database will continue to be managed solely by CFA as access requires training and maintained CPD.

October 2022


Listeria Shelf Life Guidelines challenged

The Industry Listeria Group has challenged Campden BRI’s Guideline 81: “Demonstrating control of listeria in ready to eat (RTE) foods. Listeria control: how should you approach it?”. Whilst some ILG members were part of the recent review which started prior to lockdown, Campden now acknowledge that some component parts are inaccurate and the final document displays an uneven balance in the emphasis of other parts. As CFA Director General, Karin Goodburn, explains: “This document, despite its title, does not cover the whole process of demonstrating control of Listeria. Instead, it focusses more on claimed advantages of challenge testing compared to both durability studies and predictive modelling, which are standard proven effective approaches. We have written to Campden critiquing Guideline 81 as it is incorrect in terms of legal requirements regarding criteria 1.2 of EU 2073/2005, it misrepresents obligations on food businesses with respect to shelf life and ignores established best practice in terms of food and environmental sampling and use of data, heavily promotes challenge testing as the only means of establishing shelf life and is potentially dangerous in other respects.”

Campden BRI has reviewed the comments and have agreed to remove the original document from its website, at CFA’s request. Work continues with the aim of arriving at a legally valid, useful and practicable document.

October 2022

Know Your Onions (and Beetroot)!

CFA’s suite of best practice publications provides guidance to both growers and producers of chilled, minimally processed, ready to eat (RTE) food, helping ensure risks are minimised throughout the food chain..

The latest in the portfolio is designed for chilled food producers using raw salad and vegetable ingredients where the edible portion is grown in the ground and the final foods are RTE.

‘CFA: Best practice in the preparation of beetroot and onion for minimally processed, RTE applications’ focuses on those two ingredients to help minimise challenges regarding potential Listeria contamination. It is important that businesses are aware of any specific risks for these types of ingredients when used raw in RTE foods, and understand why they can occur, to enable them to focus on particular handling and processing steps designed for their mitigation. In addition to providing specific best practice guidance on risk management for beetroot and onion, the principles can be applied to other minimally processed, RTE ingredients where the edible portion is grown in the ground – such as carrots and spring onions.

The guidelines are available now as a free download.

image: rasa-kasparaviciene-kmaHZV6MNQI-unsplash

October 2022


Vacuum Packed/ MAP foods: ACMSF risk review

In June, CFA Director General Karin Goodburn was invited to present to members of the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF), who are currently reviewing the risk basis of FSA’s guidance on the control of non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum in vacuum packed and modified atmosphere packed chilled foods. ACMSF offers expert advice to the UK Government.

The ACMSF sub-group is specifically focusing on toxin production and growth of botulinum toxin-producing Clostridia in chilled foods. Karin set out research and other work carried out over the last 30 years including by industry with Government funding (e.g. SUSSLE). Included in the session were a series of questions from the sub-group on subjects ranging from fridge temperatures to accessibility of relevant research. Karin’s presentation was well[1]received and further involvement invited. A full report from the sub-group is expected in the first half of 2023.

October 2022

Second resource refresh – news from Chilled Education

Following the success of the first online session CEd offered another chance for CFA members to hear more about the range of its resources and how they can be used in careers outreach work. Attendees to the session included colleagues from Greencore, Samworth Brothers and Oscar Mayer. They heard about career paths and profiles as well as the library of Store Cupboard experiments with curriculum links and practical details. A tailored presentation for use by members was also shared. The response? – “Lots of great stuff we can share with colleagues.”

Some of the Chilled Education resources

October 2022

Keeping affordable food on tables

In September CFA joined other major food associations (including the Provision Trade Federation, British Meat Processors Association, British Poultry Council, Cold Chain Federation, Federation of Wholesale Distributors, UK Flour Millers) in an open letter to the UK Government asking for urgent help for food businesses facing rising energy prices (in some instances four or fivefold increases to fuel bills) and multiple supply chain challenges.

Emphasising the food industry’s key part in the UK’s critical national infrastructure, vital to the economic and physical health and well-being of millions, the letter called for: help to lower the burden of energy prices; help with obtaining credit, insurance and other financial guarantees and support with input costs, labour and logistics. It also called for the maintenance of standards to give the level playing field needed when dealing with the international trade vital to food security and resilience, given climate change and other threats.

However, the letter is not exhaustive in its list of challenges currently facing CFA members. The ongoing war in Ukraine continues to disrupt commodities (CFA News #57) with the need for substitution requiring ongoing flexibility of labelling options. Crops have also been affected by the UK’s record-breaking summer temperatures adding to stresses on supply of fresh produce, other crops and animal feeds. Non-food supply chains are also being disrupted by these factors and lingering COVID-related systemic market, workforce and production system changes and Brexit’s impact on both the feasibility and cost of trading.

Wheat fields in Ukraine. Image:.Polina Rytova on unsplash

October 2022

Inspiring with experience – news from Chilled Education


Chilled Education has forged new links with a national charity that connects young people to businesses with the aim of giving those young people the skills, experience and confidence they need in the changing world of work. The charity, Young Enterprise, invited CFA Director General Karin Goodburn to record two video presentations giving an idea of the range of opportunities, offer tips and explain why the industry offers the coolest careers.

The videos can be seen here. 

October 2022


Store cupboard science ideas – news from Chilled Education


The summer break gave Chilled Education the chance to revisit some of its favourite Store Cupboard Science experiments. A special selection, titled Seven Weeks of Food Science Fun was sent out to CEd’s Cool Schools ready to share with everyone before schools broke up.

The varied selection included making ice cream, extracting DNA from summer strawberries as well as new experiments: ‘puffy paint’, changing the colour of tea (left) and preparing fish to eat, without heat. The summer experiments, and some fun ideas for Halloween and Christmas can be found on the CEd website.

October 2022

Exploring the science of sandwich making – news from Chilled Education

 It’s been a while since the Chilled Education team were out meeting students and teachers. So it was a pleasure to have Greencore colleagues join CFA’s Charlotte Patrick at the University of Northampton’s STEAM event back in June. The event showcased careers in the sectors of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths to primary and secondary schools.

The success of the day was based on its interactive sessions and Greencore’s team enjoyed challenging the young students on the many elements behind sandwich production. As Charlotte explains: “Sandwich making could be seen as a relatively straightforward activity. But we demonstrated this is not the case! The many considerations really got the students thinking. They quickly grasped what makes a sandwich fit for sale, and why some never make it to the chilled aisle (but perhaps to a redistribution centre instead). Negative factors included mayonnaise on the wrapper film, uneven filing distribution and damaged packaging.

“I think we got the message across that chilled food production is much more than cooking. It’s science, engineering (think about the production line and its sandwich skillets!), technology and maths – with some art included too.”

October 2022

New case studies on website – news from Chilled Education


Food Science Graduates Lauryn Beggs (left) and Beth Edwards are the latest colleagues to share their experiences on the CEd website. Both graduated from the University of Leeds and both are now Technical Graduates with Greencore. Lauryn is particularly enjoying sampling the variety of roles available in the industry and Beth loves the fast-paced nature of the work.

More about how they’re finding their new lives in chilled can be found at on the Chilled Education website. 

October 2022


CFA Publishes 2021 Annual Report

CFA’s Annual Report for the calendar year 2021 has been published summarising key activities and aims including:

  • EU Listeria micro criteria: Shared intelligence with industry and UK Government on mooted changes to EU law, established and leading Industry Listeria Group. Developed lobbying strategy and messaging seeking to retain current effective food safety measures. Currently building an international coalition of interested parties in readiness for consultation.
  • Brexit: Composite products focus. Established and leading SPS Certification WG of industry, certifiers and Port Health engaging with Government resolving issues and supporting eCertification development through defra. Tracking and reporting on EHC applications, certifier burden and costs. Presented evidence to UK Trade & Business Commission, featuring in Interim Report.
  • Lm Biome: Secured clarity from UK Government on legal status of novel microbial mitigation. Set out considerations for practical work. Developed project to validate microbiological method.
  • COVID-19: Best practice exchange and alerts system operating 24/7/365 for members. Programmed multidepartment Government liaison resolving regulatory, policy and incident management issues.
  • Vac Pack/MAP foods: Following having secured ACMSF and FSA reviews of fresh meat inclusion, CFA was appointed to the FSA WG feeding into ACMSF’s risk review of original 1992 guidance.
  • Chilled Education marked its 10 year anniversary and won (for the second time) the Food and Drink Federation’s Education Initiative of the Year Award, cited as “Outstanding, sustained educational initiative, highly creative, tailored to age groups and professionally presented.”

CFA’s priorities for 2022 cover:

  • Education/skills
  • Building knowledge
  • Lobbying for positive change
  • External engagement
  • Knowledge transfer

CFA publishes overview of agricultural sustainability initiatives

There are many government policy initiatives and many retailer-driven activities aiming for the agricultural sector to become more sustainable, and the number of these policies and activities is growing. Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan is one of these. It requires food to be produced sustainably and also sets a number of environmental targets.

The Government has also stated its intention for UK to become net zero carbon by 2050. The BRC has stated its aim for its members to become net zero carbon by 2040 and some retailers are bringing this date forward. This places onus on the farming community to meet a number of sustainability indicators such as land use, chemical input, biodiversity waste, water and greenhouse gases (GHG).  But there remains an important issue of measuring most of these indicators in a consistent way. The agricultural community needs tools necessary to respond to these challenges.

This document gives an overview of agricultural sustainability initiatives (19/5/22).

See also: Sustainability in agriculture/fresh produce

CFA April 2022 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Sunflower oil shortage and substitution
  • The impact of COVID – a diet of cake and lasagne!
  • Sustainability position statements published
  • The £60m cost of Brexit certification red tape
  • Health and Safety support
  • Simplifying risk assessment for fresh produce
  • The future of biofilms
  • And the winners are….
  • Vacuum Packing/ MAP latest
  • Listeria response update
  • Not to be sniffed at….
  • Easter eggs-periments!
  • Members enjoy a resource refresh
  • Listeria awareness
  • New career paths insights
  • Getting social

CFA Newsletter No.57


The future of biofilms

Prevention of biofilms is a key activity of NBIC (National Biofilms Innovation Centre) and in November 2021 CFA’s Dr Ken Johnston joined its multi-disciplinary workshop to share knowledge and identify needs for future research and innovation in the field.

Almost half (49%) of NBIC’s Proof of Concept projects funded since 2018 have been on the prevention of biofilms, covering medical, dental, household, environmental and marine applications. As the keynote presenter commented: “The sheer scale of interdisciplinarity required is staggering” when working on innovative approaches to biofilm prevention. A new approach in the laboratory, new performance standards and reproducible biofilm testing methods are all required to allow meaningful claims.

Food industry concerns about biofilms on surfaces inaccessible to cleaning, and on damaged surfaces, were the focus of one breakout group. It learned of past international long-running outbreaks of Listeriosis caused by inadequate cleaning of food manufacturing areas which has allowed Listeria to persist, probably in biofilms, and contaminate the food.

Regulations governing sanitizer use in the industry and regulatory classification of food contact surfaces, make it difficult to introduce innovative cleaning agents and set approval processes for potential new anti-biofilm food contact surfaces. However, ways to make better use of existing agents and to bring innovations proven in other application sectors could be very interesting.

The academic community is working on: • Phytochemicals from common foods which disrupt biofilm formation through properly understood mechanisms • Modelling and engineering the flow of liquids over a surface at a microscopic scale to design out bacterial adhesion • Switching the wettability and adhesive properties of a surface by external changes (e.g. pH, light) to make the surface inhospitable for colonisation by bacteria

Future research results and collaborative projects should show interesting progress on these, and other topics.

Image by Tom Bailey for the NBIC Biofilm Prevention Workshop

New career paths insights


More CFA colleagues have shared their CVs to provide inspirational career advice and tips. Greencore’s Kate Savio and Bakkavor’s Caroline Floyd, Rebecca McSweeney, Peter Winstanley (above) and Andrew Haines (not pictured) are the latest to be profiled. Who’s coming up with new ideas for what we eat? Who’s focussed on food safety? Whose passion for fresh food has given them a brilliant career? Who is looking out for future food talent and….which of our interviewees swapped Star Wars aspirations for a successful career in chilled food production?? Find out on the CEd website.

Not to be sniffed at….

A decision by Morrisons to scrap the ‘use by’ dates on its fresh milk and encourage people to use a sniff test instead sparked lively discussion in January. WRAP’s communications around this move were challenged by CFA’s Karin Goodburn, who, concerned that people may use this method for checking other food types, questioned the clarity of the messaging. She noted that the sniffing approach would not be at all appropriate to unpasteurised milk as it has gone through no risk reduction process. Morrisons’ intention is to reduce the amount of milk wasted, so they are retaining the date of production on bottles but leaving it to the user to assess freshness.

The debate around the issue prompted comments from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland. The FSA told the BBC that: “When dealing with food generally, sniffing is not an appropriate safety test, especially with products that could cause food poisoning.

And the winners are….


Awards season is in full swing with CFA members honoured with some of the industry’s most prestigious prizes. Congratulations to Moy Park who scored a hat-trick at the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards with Dr Gary McMahon named Food Safety Champion (above left on right), Ursula Lavery (above right) winning the Outstanding Food & Drink Industry Leadership Award and Moy Park’s Culinary Academy picking up the Food and Drink Sector Skill Award.

Cranswick plc was recognised in Food Manufacture Magazine’s Excellence Awards, winning the sustainability category. Moy Park also scored highly on the night with Megan Afford a finalist in the Apprentice of the Year category and the company in the final of Meat Poultry & Seafood Manufacturing Company category. Megan also shares her apprentice experiences on the Chilled Education website.

And still on the subject of awards, CFA’s Director General Karin Goodburn was made an Honorary Fellow of the ISFT in March. The prestigious title is held by only 20 other leading lights in the field of food science and goes to those who have “made extensive personal contributions to the working and progress of the Institute and to the food science and technology profession”.

Simplifying risk assessment for fresh produce

Anyone working in fresh produce will be interested to hear about a new resource to help with risk assessments to assure Good Agricultural Practice and food safety, including irrigation water and field worker hygiene. Food Standards Scotland have developed an invaluable online risk assessment tool for fresh produce. Its easy to use approach uses multiple choice questions and gives detailed information at the end of the assessment. And, importantly, it’s free.

It can be found on the Food Standards Scotland website

The £60m cost of Brexit certification red tape

CFA continues to work with food and feed trade associations, hauliers, farmers and veterinary and environmental health professional organisations (via the Sanitary and Phytosanitary – SPS – Working Group) working directly with Government to resolve trade issues and to highlight the continuing financial and human cost of post-Brexit red tape. (CFA News #56)

In just one year (to November 2021) the new Export Health Certificates (EHCs) requirements imposed on exports to the EU is estimated to have cost at least £60m in paperwork, with more than 288,000 EHC applications requiring the equivalent of 580,000 certifier hours – 285 certifier years. The number of EU vets registering to work in the UK has dropped by more than two thirds since 2019, exacerbating already extreme demands on the veterinary cohort and severely depleting the availability of qualified staff to certify the paperwork required for export both to the EU and wider world.

To cover these additional costs, Great Britain’s food industry would have needed to generate around £3bn of total additional sales (assuming a 2 per cent profit margin) in the first year of Brexit. These new costs mean that many food businesses can no longer afford to export to the EU. And many companies no longer trade with their previous largest export market, impacting on livelihoods and the GB economy.

Actions needed, solutions proposed

Short shelf-life foods are particularly impacted by the new requirements. Time-sensitive Just In Time production and distribution means that any delays in the transportation compromises the ability to sell them. Consequently, GB export to the Continent of short shelf-life chilled prepared foods is now largely unviable.

Businesses continue to work hard to navigate these barriers. The SPS Certification Working Group is chaired by CFA’s Karin Goodburn: “These already disturbing figures in fact underestimate the total cost to the industry as they exclude bulk orders of EHCs from the Animal and Plant Health Agency made in one request and the wider costs of Brexit SPS requirements.

“Without urgent action the situation is only set to deteriorate and there are no quick fixes. However, we are proposing solutions and call on Government to support us in ensuring the viability of our food businesses.” The issue was covered in the national consumer and trade media, including the Financial Times. Further details, including the proposals, are in the SPS press release. 

Sustainability position statements published

Two new online documents have been published outlining CFA’s position on ethical employment and agricultural sustainability.

As part of the Association’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, its members aim to work in their own businesses and with their suppliers to improve working conditions and human rights.

Ethical employment

CFA members take pride in being trusted and ethically responsible businesses, and want their customers and consumers to be confident that everyone working in their supply chains does so in safe conditions and are treated fairly.

This commitment is driving members to work in their own businesses, and with suppliers, to continuously improve working conditions and human rights, and to tackle issues such as modern slavery and hidden exploitation.

With their sourcing of raw materials from a worldwide supply base, CFA members can have significant influence on how suppliers operate and behave. Members expect their suppliers to comply with all applicable laws, regulations and codes within their countries of operation and, where these are considered inadequate, to meet the more stretching standards recognised by the UK and UK customers.

To aid its members in addressing these matters, CFA member-only working groups offer opportunities to discuss specific issues, and the association feeds the view and experiences of the sector to Government, enforcers and other stakeholders.

The full position statement can be found here

Sustainability in agriculture and fresh produce

Agriculture plays a unique role in the drive towards sustainability in the supply of chilled food. This means growing food and using production processes that do not pollute the environment, that conserve natural resources including water, increase resource efficiency and reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and are economically efficient, safe for workers and protect the communities. This position statement covers all aspects of agricultural sustainability: waste, land use and soil health; water; natural capital, environment and biodiversity, and pesticide use; GHGs, packaging and, finally, supply chain management. It outlines CFA’s approach to each aspect, as well as notes of progress made and ambitions for next steps.

The full position statement can be found here.

The impact of COVID – a diet of cake and lasagne!

CFA’s analysis of chilled food sales for 2021 reveals the impact of COVID on the UK’s eating habits. Lockdown restrictions, and the general uncertainty, appeared to have increased an appetite for comfort food – leading to a diet of more cake and chilled prepared meals.

The total value of the UK chilled prepared food market for 2021 was £14.4 billion (excluding some categories of foods for which data are no longer available) – an increase of 7 per cent on 2020.

Sales of chilled ready meals were up by 22 per cent on 2019, with chilled cakes showing strong growth, being up by 13 per cent. However, sales of prepared mixed tray salads and chilled prepared fruit were also up (by 19 and 13 per cent respectively) showing a strong recovery from the COVID[1]induced decline of 2020. Perhaps reflecting the nation’s desire for a diet to lose those lockdown pounds.

The lockdown closure of many workplaces and offices inevitably lead to a decline in prepared sandwiches and wraps during 2020, with the market down by around £1bn. However, the sector showed strong signs of recovery last year with sandwich sales up by 18 per cent and wraps up by 33 per cent.

CFA Director General Karin Goodburn MBE takes up the story: “The consequences of the necessary restrictions on our movements and lifestyles are starkly revealed in our eating choices since 2020. While many households explored home baking, the convenience of chilled ready meals was clearly still a draw. And, with dining out off the agenda, people have perhaps enjoyed more ‘special occasion’ foods, such as cakes, at home. There is no doubt that the chilled food industry suffered during 2020. However, we’re encouraged by these figures, with most food categories showing increased, or stable, sales, and to note that the industry shows strong overall market growth, particularly in 2021. It is good news for the 100,000 people who rely on the industry for their livelihoods and for the many millions of people who enjoy the exciting range of chilled foods currently available.”

A full breakdown of the market data, commissioned from Kantar, is available here.

Photo credit: Greencore

Getting social

Chilled Education has some amazing resources so it’s good to be able to talk about them to support national initiatives. In the last few months the team has taken to its social platforms to lend its voice to some important, and very relevant, subjects including National Apprenticeships Week, International Women’s Day, Food Waste Action Week and British Science Week.

Follow CFA on Twitter @ChilledFood and CEd on Facebook @ChilledEducation.





Sunflower oil shortage and substitution

The consequences of Russia invading Ukraine continue to resonate around the world and the food industry. Ukraine supplies up to 80 per cent of the UK’s sunflower oil and more than 2,500 chilled foods are now affected, with hundreds more impacted from sunflower oil-containing ingredients.

The industry is urgently looking at alternatives, such as rapeseed. CFA is engaged with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and defra on the need for derogation or flexibility on labelling. The impacts of such changes cannot be understated, with millions of labels on thousands of foods affected. CFA Director General Karin Goodburn said: “We are in a perfect storm when it comes to labelling – industrial action at a major supplier of food labels is already impacting stocks and there is no room on pre-printed labels or pack sleeves to accommodate the extra information. Rapid policy decisions are needed to ensure our members can adapt to meet these new demands being made of them.”

In order to keep food supplies flowing FSA and Food Standards Scotland are advising consumers that some food products labelled as containing sunflower oil may instead contain refined rapeseed oil. Consumer trust is a priority and FSA has looked into the food safety risk of this substitution, particularly for those with food allergies, and found it to be very low. Furthermore, the seed oil industry has no evidence of refined rapeseed oil containing any allergenic protein. However, the UK is not self-sufficient in rapeseed oil, so the use of further substitutes is being assessed.

The issue goes beyond sunflower oil. Ukraine is a huge exporter of proteins and wheat, and Russia a source of ammonium nitrate and phosphate for the fertiliser industry. Global Ukrainian grain exports in 2018 were more than 40 million tonnes, 13.6 million tonnes of which were to the EU. Losing these raw materials will result in higher prices for businesses and for consumers.

Photo credit:

Listeria legislation not broken – don’t fix it!

CFA, its members and their retail customers,
have long been at the forefront of the development
of best practice, control and regulation of
Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in the UK, Europe and beyond. CFA’s various Listeria guidance documents are available as free downloads.

CFA’s unique members-only dataset of more than three million food and production area data points, collected over the past 12 years, is the most comprehensive in the world. CFA and its members use the data to benchmark performance and to verify efficacy of hygiene control measures and that shelf lives are appropriate.

European listeriosis data consistently show UK rates to be half of that for Europe overall. Outside the UK, commercial enforcement by customers is often lacking and differing interpretations of regulations lead to a lack of consistent compliance.

Against this background the European Commission is expected to propose changes to Lm legislation (EU Microbiological Criteria for Foodstuffs Regulation 2073/2005). This is expected to require challenge testing to set shelf life, rather than the established and proven effective Day of Production (DOP) and End of Life (EOL) approach, coupled with storage trials.

The expected changes will particularly affect chilled foods made on the Continent, where shelf lives are substantially longer than those in the UK’s tightly controlled local market – but changes would also impact export to the EU. Increased waste would result from consequent reduced shelf lives, with increased prices from highly specialised and narrowly applicable testing – all with questionable food safety benefits.

Earlier this year, when the proposals came to light, CFA established a pan-industry group to respond to them. With a membership comprising trade associations, CFA members and retailers, and also liaising with European Federations including the European Chilled Food Federation, it is gathering information and intelligence to present to the EC to show that the proposed changes are not necessary for food safety, but the originally agreed approach that was adopted by the UK, is.

As CFA Director General Karin Goodburn MBE explains: “The systems the UK chilled food sector has in place to detect and control Listeria have worked extremely well for the last 16 years since the EU Regulations came into force. This is illustrated in our more than three million datapoints on Listeria – the largest data set of its type in the world. This is just one way in which we are able to prove that what is being proposed will not improve food safety.

“The EU’s approach is also flawed in that it only covers the testing of food and does not address critical hygienic control of the food production environment. We can see no obvious public health or sustainability benefit to the changes and will continue to lobby the EC to retain the DOP/EOL and storage trial approach as it is demonstrably highly effective. In short, when it comes to European Listeria legislation – it’s not broken, please don’t fix it!”

Published 20 October 2021

SUSSLE database sussed

In response to increased demands being made on its SUSSLE software and Listeria and B. cereus databases, CFA has consolidated all three systems into one and improved the administration of the system to make it easier to use. CFA hopes that these changes will meet the needs of current users and also encourage others to input their information which gives an invaluable picture of the efficacy of control of Listeria and B. cereus. Access to the system is restricted to CFA members and Licensees.

CFA presents evidence on Brexit effect

In April, CFA’s Karin Goodburn gave evidence to the UK Trade and Business Commission on the impact of Brexit on a variety of business sectors.

Karin, who established and chairs the SPS (Sanitary & Phytosanitary) Certification Working Group (comprising more than 25 trade and professional organisations throughout the food chain, EHOs and Official Vets), outlined the problems faced when exporting to the EU or moving food to Northern Ireland – including the reams of time-consuming complex paperwork (see CFA News 55). Her quote: “We’re dealing with archaic paperwork, Byzantine process and Kafkaesque differences of interpretation.” was widely repeated in the media.

The Commission’s report, which also includes suggested solutions to the issues – was published in September, to coincide with the first meeting of the UK/EU Trade Specialised Committee on SPS Measures, which is seeking to reduce friction in UK/ EU trade. CFA and the SPS Certification WG are continuing to work with the Government on systems digitisation and streamlining certifier touchpoints in the food chain.

Sustainability on the up, food to landfill stays at zero

In the run up to COP26, CFA is pleased to report a positive sustainability picture for its members, who represent many of the largest chilled food producers in this £13bn industry.

Data from CFA members reveals a 10.7 percent reduction in carbon dioxide between 2008 and 2020 in spite of an almost threefold increase in production. CFA believes that this is a credible achievement given that the easier to achieve savings were made during 2000-2010.

Additionally, CFA members continue to not send food waste to landfill. Food redistribution continues to contribute to this positive outcome with over 7.5 million meals redistributed in 2020 through agencies such as FareShare and the Company Shop.

Dr Rachel Hackett, chair of CFA’s Sustainability Group: “We are proud of our track record. From 2017 to 2020 we redistributed almost 25 million meals and have not sent any food waste to landfill for a decade. But we realise that we now have a high ‘personal best’ and making further reductions will be challenging. However, our focus will remain firmly on the issue and we will continue to do all we can to minimise our industry’s impact on the planet”

Farming – the only way is up?

Increasing demands on land space is leading to significant interest in the potential for new ways to farm certain types of fresh produce. One new method currently attracting attention is Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). By enclosing a growing crop in a structure, CEA provides protection by reducing exposure to the outdoor environment. This approach can vary – from keeping the crop in simple greenhouses to fully enclosed ‘vertical farms’.

These new approaches to farming are the subject
of a new CFA position paper. The paper looks at the
positives of the method which can include
a longer growing season, less wastage due to bad weather and reduced pesticide use. It also outlines the negatives – which centre on the risk of pathogen growth.

CFA champions best practice in fresh produce farming so will support these new methods and would expect them to follow the same best practice principles as traditional outdoor farming systems. The paper can be found on the CFA website.


See also CFA’s Good Agricultural Practice standards for fresh produce

CFA welcomes new member – Cranswick plc

CFA is pleased to welcome a new member company –
Cranswick plc.

Jackie Carter, the company’s Group Technical Director said: “I am delighted we are joining the Chilled Food Association alongside our peers and look forward to a long, productive and mutually beneficial relationship.”

Established in the 1970s by a group of Yorkshire farmers, Cranswick has grown to become one of the UK’s largest food producers, with revenue approaching £1.9bn, all whilst staying true to their ethos – to create authentically made, sustainably produced British food, without compromise. Its core market is the UK, operating from 16 facilities, with a team of over 12,500 people. Cranswick produces a range of high quality, predominantly fresh food including fresh pork, poultry, sliced cooked meats, gourmet sausages, bacon and pastry, and charcuterie meats and olives.

CFA supporting WRAP re water security

CFA is a supporter of waste reduction charity WRAP’s new road map for water security. As well as businesses continuing to increase water use efficiency, WRAP expects that the UK food and drink industry will meet an overall target (by 2030) of ensuring that 50 percent of fresh food is sourced from areas with sustainable water management.

A decade of Chilled Education recognised

CFA’s initiative to address a skills gap in chilled food production is 10 years old. Representatives from industry and education have sent warm messages of thanks and support.

“There is much to be optimistic about”

Patrick Coveney, CEO of Greencore Group plc (and CFA member company) explains Chilled Education’s significance to the chilled food sector:y) explains Chilled Education’s significance to the chilled food sector: “I send congratulations to the CFA for ten years of its Chilled Education initiative. At its inception it was addressing a massive skills gap in the industry.

“Over the decade we’ve seen graduates, inspired by Chilled Education, join Greencore. We’ve also been delighted to be part of the ‘delivery team’ – going to science and careers fairs to join industry colleagues in sharing our experiences, and our enthusiasm for our dynamic industry. Though much has changed, the recruitment and retention of food scientists (and other colleagues) is more critical than ever. Chilled Education, therefore, still has an important role to play. And if the success of the first ten years is anything to go by, there is much to be optimistic about – as Chilled Education continues to inspire, inform and nurture the next generation of food scientists.”

“Here’s to the next decade!”

Patrick’s words were echoed by fellow CFA member company’s Samworth Brothers’ CEO Flor Healy: “We are dedicated to the sustainability of the chilled food industry and are proud to have been actively involved in Chilled Education’s work. My Samworth colleagues have been to careers and science fairs and out to schools to share their knowledge. Their experiences are also a key part of the Chilled Education website.

”There are, of course, many routes into the industry and we are proud to be working with Sheffield Hallam University on its innovative Degree Apprentice Programme. Some of our apprentices are also working with Chilled Education. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their dedication compelling. I look forward to seeing their development and to welcoming many more. Thank you, Chilled Education, for pointing young scientific minds in our direction. Here’s to the next decade!”

“Bridging the skills gap, tirelessly supported by Chilled Education”

Over the years CEd has worked with many teachers to develop its innovative resources. A partnership with the Design & Technology Association has led to a long-standing working relationship with its former Deputy CEO and founder of the Food Teacher Centre, Louise Davies. She told CEd: “As a thriving group of over 7,000 food teachers we are delighted to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Chilled Education.

“We are very proud of our partnership with CEd. Their celebration of 10 years nurturing the next generation of food scientists and sharing career pathways in the food sector closely unites with our own mission for better food teaching. We have worked collaboratively with them over the years to create platforms for professionals to share and receive advice and guidance.

“Food teachers and their students have enjoyed using CEd’s wide range of resources. We have happily shared thousands of fridge thermometers, making an impact both in school and in the home. Many students enjoy using the MicroTrumps card game to get to grips with essential knowledge of pathogens and useful microbes in food. Teachers and technicians also use MicroTrumps to extend their own knowledge and application of microbial aspects of food.

“Many food teachers use and share the careers information. Bridging the skills gap tirelessly supported by Chilled Education during the last ten years is a unifying theme for future projects. The website used by many of our members is testament to the reliable, wide-ranging and appropriate teaching resources available for use in schools today. Lesson plans, classroom activities and food science ideas are amongst the ‘go to’ resources always available, for various Key Stages, for food teachers.

”We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Chilled Education in the future to support many aspects of food education.”

“CFA has developed my skills and championed me”

Realising the need to work with science teachers as well as food teachers to influence lessons, in 2014 CEd began a successful partnership with the Association for Science Education, which introduced CEd to Chartered Science Teacher and author of best-selling science books, Sam Holyman. Sam’s shared her enthusiasm and knowledge of her subject with CEd. She says: “I am so privileged and proud to have worked with the CFA to create lesson ideas and resources that are ready to work in a classroom. My own children have grown up with the idea that Food Science isn’t just cooking and have trialled lots of our ideas to see how young learners would engage with the activities, with Annie being amazed by the real iron in her cereal and Zac loving MicroTrumps.”

Sam Holyman’s Sweet Sustainable Science workshops were enjoyed by teachers at the ASE conference: “We discovered that including children in our hands-on workshop was a great asset, as their enthusiasm for the subject showed sceptical delegates the power of food to really help students understand concepts in the more traditional sciences. ”My favourite part is working out how we can use food science techniques to reduce the risk of practicals for the science classroom. It has the added bonus in creating a lesson hook, bringing in everyday links from the food we eat to thinking about how science really affects us – from hand washing to harnessing the power of microbes to make yoghurt or insulin! Sam continues: “CFA has developed my skills and championed me, and it has been a real pleasure to help encourage more people into STEM careers.”


Karin Goodburn MBE, CFA Director General, sums up: “Chilled Education continues its aims to: ‘inform, educate and inspire children in all areas of the dynamic and diverse chilled food sector’. While we are proud of our successes and eagerly follow the progress of our young graduates, our work is by no means over. Our industry’s need for high quality food scientists, and other experts, shows no sign of diminishing as vacant roles continue to mount up.

“However, we are heartened by the overwhelmingly positive experiences reported by the new recruits and will be using those testimonials to encourage others. They go a long way to correct the many misconceptions about the industry that have proved a barrier for many people. “We send sincere thanks to all our partners and supporters and look forward to further working with our
colleagues in the industry and in education as we embark on the next
ten years of Chilled Education.”


The winner takes it all (again!)

Chilled Education experienced a happy tinge of déjà vu last month when it won the Food and Drink Federation’s Education Initiative of the Year Award it previously won in 2014. Commenting on the award (shown left with CFA’s Karin Goodburn), the FDF judges described CEd as an: “Outstanding, sustained educational initiative, highly creative, tailored to age groups and professionally presented

STEAM subjects in a digital age

An online education event in June continued Chilled Education’s work in the virtual world. The University of Northamptonshire invited Karin Goodburn and Samworth Degree Apprentice Matty Desforges to share career insights at its online STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths) event. More than 600 students from years 6 to 12 attended and the CEd presentation was the third most popular over the week-long event (just behind Maths and Physics). The full presentation can be seen here.

A Decade of Chilled Education – Scheme to Inspire Future Food Scientists Marks Ten Year Milestone

The Chilled Food Association’s (CFA) innovative, award-winning project to nurture the next generation of chilled food scientists, Chilled Education (CEd) celebrates its tenth anniversary this month (12 September).

Over the decade the initiative has worked with industry and education specialists to raise awareness of careers in the chilled food industry amongst teachers and students. Its original mission – to address the skills gap in the sector – remains as important as ever as businesses strive to recruit and retain a high calibre workforce.

Since launching, thousands of teachers and students have benefitted from innovative resources (such as the unique, hugely popular, MicroTrumps game, industry insights and practical support from a CEd team drawn from CFA member companies. The diverse range of resources produced, from lesson plans, ‘real-life’ career paths and case studies to newsletters and videos, coupled with engagement with teachers and students at career and science fairs (and, more recently, virtually) continues to inspire. A dedicated website hosts all the information and is continually revised and refreshed.

As a result many students have chosen to study food science-related subjects and have secured not only placements, but full-time posts in CFA member companies.

CEd is constantly developing. Realising that it needed to work with science teachers as well as food teachers to influence teaching (with the aim of putting more food into science and more science into food), in 2014 it began what was to be a successful partnership with the Association for Science Education.

During 2020, in response to COVID-19 restrictions, the activity evolved to support home schooling. Short bite-size ideas such as Sweet Sustainable Science (originally designed by best-selling science author and teacher Sam Holyman) were shared on the website. More than 40 home-based Store Cupboard Science activities and experiments were developed to help with home schooling and make food science fun and engaging, To support COVID-19 public health messages CEd shared handwashing resources – with free downloadable posters.

Industry Recognition

Patrick Coveney, CEO Greencore Group plc (and CFA member company) explains CEd’s significance to the chilled food sector:  “I send congratulations to the CFA for ten years of its Chilled Education initiative.

“At its inception it was addressing a massive skills gap in the industry. Over the decade we’ve seen graduates, inspired by Chilled Education, join Greencore. We’ve also been delighted to be part of the ‘delivery team’ – going to science and careers fairs to join industry colleagues in sharing our experiences, and our enthusiasm for our dynamic industry.

“Though much has changed, the recruitment and retention of food scientists (and other colleagues) is more critical than ever. Chilled Education, therefore, still has an important role to play. And if the success of the first ten years is anything to go by, there is much to be optimistic about – as Chilled Education continues to inspire, inform and nurture the next generation of food scientists.”

Karin Goodburn MBE, CFA Director adds: CEd continues its aims to: ‘inform, educate and inspire children in all areas of the dynamic and diverse chilled food sector. While we are proud of our successes and eagerly follow the progress of our young graduates our work is by no means over. Our industry’s need for high quality food scientists, and other experts, shows no sign of diminishing as vacant roles continue to mount up.

“However, we are heartened by the overwhelming positive experiences reported by the new recruits and will be using those testimonials to encourage others. They go a long way to correct the many misconceptions about the industry that have proved a barrier for many people.

“We send sincere thanks to all our partners and supporters and look forward to further working with our colleagues in the industry and in education as we embark on the next ten years of Chilled Education.”

In 2014 CEd was the Food and Drink Federation’s Education Initiative of the Year, who described it as ‘especially inspiring’. It has been shortlisted for the award again this year.  Also in 2014 CEd was a finalist in two categories of the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards.

Chilled Education in numbers:

~146k fridge thermometers distributed (underlining the importance of correct fridge temperatures for chilled food
>30k free lesson plans downloaded
75k Nanobugs temporary tattoos shared (fun representations of pathogens)
>1,750 teachers in hundreds of Cool Schools in regular contact
8,000 packs of MicroTrumps distributed
90 students supported at Food Science Summer Schools
40+ real life career paths, case studies and profiles
40+ Store Cupboard Science ideas




Urgent Call for New Veterinary Agreement as Restrictions Cause Sharp Drop in British Exports to the EU and Threatens the Viability of UK Business

Food and feed trade associations, hauliers, farmers and veterinary and environmental health professional organisations have joined together to propose in a new report an urgent new veterinary agreement and streamlined processes to resolve crippling restrictions to exports to the EU, Britain’s largest trading partner.

Sir Roger Gale MP, who sits on the cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission, said:
“This important report highlights the systemic challenges facing food exporters and the need for urgent solutions. This will all help inform the cross-party recommendations we are developing on how current barriers to trade with the EU can be addressed.”

The cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission will be examining this issue in detail at its evidence session today on a potential EU-UK veterinary agreement, which will hear from leading industry representatives including the British Veterinary Association, British Poultry Council, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the National Farmers Union.

For the last five months British exporters have faced often insurmountable difficulties with post-Brexit red tape and disruption at the UK-EU border. The new relationship between Great Britain and the EU (from 1 January 2021), has meant that British businesses now face a plethora of new requirements imposed on exports to the EU. These include international sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls which significantly add to bureaucracy, cost and time.
This is having a profound negative impact on the amount of food exported to the EU. The ONS reports a sharp drop in exports – a decrease of £8.9 billion to £137 billion in the first quarter of 2021, significantly impacting the viability of businesses in Great Britain.

Businesses are working incredibly hard to navigate these new barriers but Government help is needed. The SPS Certification Working Group, a cross-industry, veterinary and environmental health group, in its new report Minimising SPS Friction in EU Trade, today (Thursday 10 June) calls on the Government to help resolve the severe impact on trade through a new approach by:

• Improving current systems to remove archaic bureaucracy, reducing time, error and costs
• Reviewing requirements for inspection and certification
• Negotiating a form of mutual veterinary agreement with the EU which would ease problems trading food and feed between GB and the EU and GB to NI, and from EU to GB when full SPS import controls take effect in 2022 when, arguably, the situation will worsen further.

As Nick Allen of British Meat Processors Association explains: “The rigid but inconsistent enforcement of ‘third country’ trading rules is eroding the profitability and potential viability of exporting products of animal origin to the EU and NI – even though the differences between the food standards are virtually non-existent.”

If traders are to survive and thrive under the UK’s established Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the EU, new ways of managing the system must be developed to secure the sustainability of businesses going forward. Especially since the situation is likely to get much worse next year when full import controls take effect.

The report, Minimising SPS Friction in EU Trade, calls on the Government to engage with the EU to build a system that works for exporters rather than against them. Without Government support in investing in sufficient resources and systems, a detrimental effect on the sustainability of British businesses can be expected.

The Report is available on the industry EU Exit Food Hub and here.

Notes to Editors

The AHDB has also recently published figures on the impact of the new requirements on trade, showing a 28% decrease in value of food and live animal UK exports to the EU in Q1 of 2021 (

The SPS Certification Working Group is made up of food and feed trade associations, hauliers, farmers and veterinary and environmental health professional organisations, working together to minimise trade friction in Export Health Certificate (EHC)/SPS products between GB and the EU/NI by identifying issues and proposing solutions to Government and its Agencies.

The total value to the UK economy of the members of the Working Group is well in excess of £100bn per annum.

See more information on the SPS Certification Working Group


Thursday 10 June 2021

CFA 2020 Annual Report published – highlights

Our latest Annual Report is now available, covering the 2020 calendar year.

Specific achievements:


  • Leading Food & Biocides Industry Group which secured more rational chlorate MRLs and special flexibility for processed foods.
  • Various sectoral best practice chlorate MRL guidance issued.

Vac Pack/MAP foods

Project BLUE & Lm Biome

  • Completed NBIC co-funded initial laboratory evaluation of technology to control biofilms under factory conditions.
  • Potential research into other novel technologies under discussion.


  • Established best practice exchange and alerts system for members.
  • Programmed multidepartment Government liaison resolving regulatory, policy and incident management issues


  • Engaged with Government, vets and wider industry.
  • Best practice exchange and issues resolution.
  • Composite products focus. Secured Export Health Certificate flexibility reducing admin burden, facilitating exports to Ireland. Leading Associations EHC Group working with Government.

Priorities for 2021 cover:

  • Education/skills
  • Building knowledge
  • Lobbying for positive change
  • External engagement
  • Knowledge transfer

CFA April 2021 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Brexit Paperwork Headache for Short Shelf Composite Products
  • Chilled Food Market Data
  • COVID-19 Support for CFA Members
  • Chlorate and Hygiene Biocides
  • Vacuum Packed and MAP Guidance
  • Third Party Laboratory Guidance Available
  • Hitting Health & Safety Targets
  • Sustainable Development Group
  • Working in a Virtual World
  • 10 Years of Chilled Education
  • Store Cupboard Science
  • STEM Partnership

CFA NEWSLETTER No.55 for website

Vacuum Packed & MAP Guidance revised

CFA provided substantial input to FSA in its review of its 2017 Vacuum and Modified Atmosphere Packed Guidance regarding the inclusion of fresh meat (CFA News 54). As a result of this the guidance has been revised to no longer limit shelf life to 10 days after the day of production for vacuum or MAP chilled fresh beef, pork or lamb. However, food businesses will be responsible for identifying and applying a safe shelf-life in relation to non-proteolytic C. botulinum in line with their existing food safety management systems, in the same way they do for other types of food. In the absence of this approach businesses can apply a 13 day maximum shelf life. The general approach of the guidance continues to accommodate SUSSLE and other shelf lives justified via scientific data.

A wider review of the original ACMSF 1992 risk assessment on which the Guidance is based, will begin this year, with CFA a member of the Working Group.

15 April 2021

STEM partnership

The new T level Science qualification, with its food science module, offers another route into the food industry. CEd has been contacted by the team at the STEM Network to help them support the new qualification by sharing real life experiences of industry colleagues. This approach works very well on the CEd website, with the career paths and case studies amongst the most visited on the site. STEM Network is a long-time partner of CEd and will host video interviews with CFA colleagues. CEd is currently co-ordinating colleagues’ involvement and investigating other ways to support the initiative.

15 April 2021

COVID hasn’t cooled the chilled food market

CFA has released 2020 market data commissioned from Kantar, charting sales of chilled foods ranging from prepared produce to chilled cake. The market has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic with most consumers compelled to change their work and home life patterns. The statistics reflect the massive upheaval experienced by the UK, with fluctuations across almost all categories. However, the overall market remains strong and is now worth almost £13.5bn, up by 4.1 percent on 2019.

With many offices and workplaces closed, classic office lunchtime foods such as ready-made sandwiches, rolls, and baguettes predictably took the biggest hit – seeing sales drop by 38.6 per cent on the previous year. Wraps also saw a major drop – 42 per cent year-on-year, and there was reduced appetite for mixed tray salads, down by 23 per cent on 2019.

Chilled ready meals continued to be strong, going up by seven percent, perhaps due to people keen to enjoy easy to prepare meals with eating out options not possible. Vegetarian chilled food saw the largest increase – with sales up by 26 percent to £155m.  Prepared fish was also up (by almost 14 percent) again reflecting a need for ‘special occasion’ meals cooked at home. And to round off a dine in at home experience chilled dessert sales were also up by 8 percent.

CFA director Karin Goodburn comments: “The market data acts as a barometer, showing us how food shopping habits have reacted to COVID over the last 12 months. With the industry facing unprecedented changes it’s heartening to see that the market in chilled is still strong. Only cakes didn’t have an appreciable change, presumably because not everyone started baking (i.e. buying flour, eggs, etc) but everyone still wanted to enjoy a sweet treat.” Full market data can be found here on this website.

15 April 2021

CFA continues to support members on COVID-19

The Association was quick to respond to the impact of the pandemic, with its first COVID-related message to members being on 27 January 2020. Because of the volume of information a dedicated confidential Emergencies WhatsApp group was created in early March 2020. The group now has some 85 members, exchanging information technical and regulatory developments and solving problems in real time.

The group is active 24/7 and has hosted 2,000+ confidential messages to date. In addition to this CFA is lobbying for usage of Lateral Flow Testing in a targeted way (‘Targeted Testing’) focusing on high-risk staff and troubleshooting. CFA is also lobbying for clarity on pricing of kits provided by Government from July as the cost of twice-weekly tests for the sector’s 80k staff add up to on-costs of ~£45m p.a., reflecting profit from ~£2bn sales of chilled foods. CFA is also seeking members’ sites to be used as vaccination centres and for the prioritisation of vaccine rollout to include all food sector staff.

15 April 2021



Chlorate and Hygiene Biocides

Years of ultimately successful lobbying of the European Commission by the Food & Biocides Industry Group (CFA News 54) around the regulation of maximum residue limits of chlorate in food materials have received further recognition and support from the Health & Safety Executive.

The Group, established and chaired by CFA’s Karin Goodburn, has now issued various Chlorate MRL Best Practice Compliance Guidance Documents. They are all available as free downloads from the CFA website ( and include guidance on multicomponent food written by Karin.

Karin explains: “With HSE expecting companies to be ready for potential challenges on traces of chlorates, which arise from the required usage of hygiene biocides to assure food hygiene and safety, we believe these guidance documents will prove invaluable. They include details of how businesses can develop a statement of compliance, using practical examples such as the contributory factors to presence of traces from produce, grain, protein and water from the use of hygiene biocides. The multicomponent foods guidance works through the approach with the example of the components of a chicken salad sandwich”

The full range of FBIG guidance includes fresh and prepared produce, fruit juices and soft drinks, dairy products, and cured meats.

15 April 2021

Getting to Grips with Third Party Laboratories

CFA has published the latest in its influential guidance documents for the chilled industry. How to Get the Best from Third Party Laboratories is available free to download.

Developed with Food Standards Scotland the guidance was produced in response to calls for guidance from members and agreed by other associations to be a priority issue for all sectors. This first edition focuses on food microbiology.

Industry has legal responsibilities to ensure that food is safe, accurately described and labelled, and does not mislead the consumer. Where industry uses laboratory testing to help it meet those responsibilities, for validation or verification, it must ensure that the testing is fit for purpose and able to withstand legal scrutiny in the case of challenge.

The new guidance aims to raise awareness of the need to use analytical laboratories with the right expertise and accreditations. It provides practical advice on issues such as selecting the right laboratory, providing samples and dealing with complaints.

15 April 2021

Hitting Health & Safety Targets

CFA is a signatory to the “Common Strategy” of the Food and Drink Manufacturing Forum (FDMF), an HSE initiative to engage with trade bodies and unions in the food manufacturing sector to enhance worker safety. That strategy is reaching the end of its five-year period and is about to be reviewed.

In preparation for the review, CFA members have been assessing their performance against the main planks of the strategy including injury reduction; strategies to reduce muscular skeletal disorders, slips and trips, and occupational health.

CFA’s Dr Ken Johnston has been feeding back to the FDMF, saying: “Pleasingly, the chilled food sector has a low accident rate in comparison to the official “Code 10 Food Manufacturing“ sector and is not only able to show a decrease in reportable accidents but that it has met the target of a 10% year on year reduction in these accidents over the five years of the Common Strategy.”

15 April 2021

Sustainable Development Group

CFA’s Sustainable Development Group has been reviewing its priorities for the future.

The timing of policy and other developments will determine when particular work will be required, but the extensive list includes issues such as: achieving net zero carbon; mitigating climate related risks; content of the Courtauld Commitment 2030; details of extended producer responsibility on packaging; minimising waste and resources enhancing natural capital; ethical sourcing and sourcing to minimise deforestation, building on the sector’s success in sourcing sustainable palm oil.


15 April 2021

A decade of Chilled Education! 

September marks the tenth anniversary of CFA’s award-winning Chilled Education initiative. The project was launched on 12 September 2011 and aimed to: ‘inform, educate and inspire children in all areas of the dynamic and diverse chilled food sector.’

Since then thousands of teachers and students have benefitted from innovative resources, industry insights and practical support from the CEd team. Many students have chosen to study food science-related subjects and have secured not only placements, but full-time posts in CFA member companies as a result. The CEd website continues to evolve and develop with new career case study insights planned for the year. And there’ll be updates on how the profiled industry professionals are getting on in their chosen careers. There’ll be more on the success of the project in the next issue of CFA News.

14 April 2021

Raiding the store cupboard for science!

Lockdown restrictions continue to limit the face-to-face work of the CEd team – but not its imagination and ingenuity! With home schooling continuing into 2021, the store cupboard science experiments continued to offer alternative, fun ways to explore science. CEd’s Charlotte and her girls Morgan and Tilly took Halloween, Christmas and Food Waste Action Week as inspiration for their experiments.

Social media platforms have played a key role in getting the ideas circulated, as well as supporting national themes such as Food Waste Action Week, British Science Week, Apprenticeships Week and Careers Week – attracting many reactions and helping the website to record a good number of click-throughs. The ideas can all be found on the Chilled Education website 

14 April 2021


Connecting through the virtual world

Restrictions on travel over the last twelve months have led to meetings, conferences and presentations on virtual platforms becoming the norm. In November CFA Director Karin Goodburn presented at the Food Focus South Africa Food Safety Summit.

The conference attracted over 800 participants and Karin joined international high profile colleagues including Bill Marler (MarlerClark), Richard Swannell (WRAP), and Prof Lucia Anelich. Issues covered included emerging pathogens, biocides and antimicrobial resistance.

In February, Karin opened the National Biofilms Innovation Centre webinar on Microbes and Biofilms in the Food Industry with a presentation on Food Hygiene Biocides – Regulation and Reality and later that month she was invited by the British Herb Trade Association to kickstart their new food safety group. She presented on 25 years of CFA fresh produce safety assurance work.


15 April 2021

Brexit Paperwork Headache for Short Shelf Life Composite Products

Given that the vast majority of foods represented by CFA comprise ingredients from animal origin (e.g. meat, dairy, fish) and plant materials, they are categorised as Composite Products in international trade, requiring Export Health Certificates (EHCs) signed off by Official Veterinarians (OVs).

Last autumn, CFA secured a member’s involvement in live trials of exporting a composite food, which confirmed critical issues previously highlighted by CFA to Defra.

With the end of the Transition Period at 2301h on 31 December 2020 came the introduction of extensive Third Country veterinary certification requirements for export of foods containing animal origin ingredients, from Great Britain to the EU. The same requirements were due to have been required for GB-Northern Ireland goods movements from 1 April but have been paused by the UK Government to 1 October at the earliest, with composite products being phased in last. The chilled food sector primarily exports to the island of Ireland so although exports to the Continent have virtually ceased, impacts of the new paperwork, certification and administrative systems requirements have so far been limited to Ireland in practice.

Capacity issues

A CFA survey of chilled and frozen composite products estimated that some 30,000 EHCs would be required where none were before. According to Animal and Plant Health (APHA) data provided to the industry, there was 126-fold increase in the total number of EHCs for EU export issued in January/February 2021 compared with the same period last year – from 491 in that period in 2020 to 61,802 in 2021. Each composite product EHC needs to be supported by detailed supplementary information for each animal origin ingredient including the Approved source, processing details and dates of production, by batch being exported, and to be signed by an OV. This represents a huge new administrative burden – introducing new costs and delays in what was a highly efficient system facilitating rapid flow of chilled short shelf life complex foods made to order on the day of despatch. It also raises concerns over whether there are sufficient number of OVs to sign the certificates.

CFA has been working with the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the professional body for OVs, to identify such issues and find solutions. This CFA engagement with BVA, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, and the relevant Government department in Ireland (DAFM), has already simplified aspects of composites’ EHC completion for exports to Ireland.

However, new EU Animal Health Law (2016/429) published in March 2016 when the UK was still an EU Member State, will on 21 April, according to CFA data, bring an estimated one third more chilled composite foods within its scope, so requiring EHCs where they currently exempt. Even those composite foods which are exempt from EHCs will require Private Attestations running to several pages of required detailed information for them to be exportable to the EU, and at an unspecified date post 1 October, to Northern Ireland. The question is whether all this new administrative cost can be borne, given existing profit margins.

CFA not only alerted wider industry to these issues but has set up an EHCs Associations Group for food trade associations and the BVA, as a forum to engage with Government veterinary officials, identify and resolve problems.

Solutions to keep the nation fed

The Association has also developed a checklist with the BVA to assist food businesses in ensuring that OVs have appropriate professional status, the required specific training and adequate insurance cover for their food certification work for export, e.g. EHCs. Links are included to supporting information on specific Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, APHA and Improve-OV requirements.

CFA is working with Defra on the development of its ambitious Digital Assistance Scheme (DAS) to facilitate the continued supply of food to Northern Ireland from 1 October through the digitisation of paperwork and its submission to existing export systems, e.g. TRACES NT, TSS. It is critical that any such system is easy to use, with the information requirement limited to only what is needed by law, and, importantly, be compatible with companies’ existing systems.

CFA Director Karin Goodburn explains: “Leaving the EU has had a profound effect on the day to day working lives of vets, the free movement of our workforce, and of course on the exportation of Just in Time short shelf life food. When the UK from 1 October implements its own controls on imported foods we will open another chapter, with uncertainty about its impact on the flow of foods and ingredients from the Continent and Ireland at a time when the UK crops season has ended and we are most dependent on imports. CFA shall continue to work to find solutions to protect industry so it can export and import for the benefit of our economy and of course to keep the nation fed.”

15 April 2021

Checklist for Choosing a Certifying Officer (OV) for Export Documentation

CFA has developed this checklist with the British Veterinary Association to assist food businesses in ensuring that Certifying Officers (Official Vets) have appropriate professional status, required specific training and adequate insurance cover for their food certification work for export, e.g. EHCs. Links are included to supporting information on specific Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, APHA and Improve-OV requirements.


29 January 2021

Guidance for Food Business Operators: Getting the Best from Third Party Laboratories

This new CFA Guidance produced in collaboration with Food Standards Scotland, aims to raise awareness of the need to use analytical laboratories with the right expertise, accreditations, using appropriate methods and facilitate development of partnerships between such third-party laboratories and their customers in the food industry, moving away from purely transactional arrangements.

Greater transparency is needed from both FBOs and laboratories to achieve this, with greater understanding of each other’s needs and impacts on business and working to agreed Key Performance/Continuous Improvement Indicators regarding resilience, reliability, relevance and sustainability of analytical services, all of which are covered.

The focus of this first edition is on microbiological analytical services provided by a third party to a FBO.

The Guidance is a free download and includes:

  • Checklist
  • Fitness for Purpose – Laboratories and Methods
  • Provision of Samples to Laboratories
  • Reporting Results
  • Complaints Procedure
  • Selecting a laboratory through tender
  • Special measures for laboratories
  • ContractsAppendices
    1. Terminology
    2. Microbiology
    2.1 Legally Recognised Methods
    2.2 What other Microbiological Tests are Relevant for Various Food Materials

    1: Industrywide Continuous Improvement Indicators for Laboratories
    2: Findings, Laboratory Action and Communication of Results
    3: Microbiological Methods – Specified by EU Regulation 2073/2005
    4: Typical Expected Turnaround of Microbiological Tests if Compliant with Standard Methods

CFA welcomes fresh meat removal from FSA Vac Pack/MAP Guidance

CFA welcomes FSA’s revised approach to shelf-life guidance for chilled fresh vacuum packed/MAP beef, lamb and pork, which removes the 10 day limit imposed on these foods in its 2017 guidance.

As set out already in food law, the change means that from now on, food business operators (FBOs) can set a shelf life for fresh beef, pork and lamb in line with their existing food safety management systems, in the same way they already do for other types of food, and did for these fresh meats previous to the 2017 guidance.

FSA’s decision reflects decades of international evidence of safety of low oxygen packed fresh beef, pork and lamb, and a Quantitative Microbiological Risk Assessment carried out in CFA’s first SUSSLE (Sustainable Shelf Life Extension) project published in Applied Environmental Microbiology in January 2016 (Barker et al).

That work showed that fresh meat has the lowest prevalence and loading with spores of non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum of any food material.

Risk assessments show exceptionally high levels of safety protection from standard legally required hygiene measures from the abattoir on. These assessments most notably include those commissioned by FSA (project B13006) published in 2006 and as a peer reviewed paper in 2008, and by Meat &  Livestock Australia/BMPA published in 2019, and as a peer reviewed paper in 2020.

Industry is referred to CFA/QIB/LFR/MLA/BRC 2018 guidance on Setting Shelf Life of Chilled Foods in Relation to Non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum, and BRCGS guidance (2018) in relation to fresh meat as the standard approach to taken and BRCGS guidance (2018) in relation to fresh meat as the standard approach to taken.

These neither specify shelf life limits, nor any requirement for challenge testing.

FSA recognises that small and medium sized food businesses may not have suitable resources or expertise. Such businesses will be able to use the January 2020 ACMSF recommendation for VP/MAP chilled fresh beef, lamb and pork, should they wish to do so, i.e. a shelf-life of 13 days maximum without further activity to demonstrate the safety in relation to C. botulinum.

CFA’s DG Karin Goodburn MBE said: “It is very welcome that FSA has removed fresh meat from the scope of its guidance. Both non-statutory guidance and legislation must have a sound scientific basis and be shown to be addressing risk proportionately. We are delighted that our previous research (SUSSLE) and guidance work is seen as setting out the appropriate future approach – it is already the bedrock of standard longstanding industry practice. We look forward to contributing to the next phase of the review of FSA’s VP/MAP guidance,  which remains unique internationally.”

10 December 2020

Chlorate MRLs: Best Practice Guidance for FBOs

The EU chlorate MRLs Regulation 749/2020 has been in force since 28/6/20. The UK’s CFA-led Food & Biocides Industry Group (FBIG) and its partners secured in the Regulation more rational MRLs, inclusion of the EU legal definition of ‘processed’ foods, and special rules for processed foods.

See FBIG’s Chlorate MRLs Compliance Best Practice Pointers for FBOs – fresh produce primary production and washing

Additional guidance for other processed/multicomponent foods is being developed by FBIG.

For supplementary resources and background visit

Food sector warns that organic food exports face outright ban if equivalence is not agreed in Brexit deal

CFA is a signatory to an industry letter to the Chief UK Negotiator, Lord Frost, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP warning that organic food exports  an outright ban if equivalence is not agreed in a Brexit deal:

Brexit uk-organics-letter from industry to David Frost & Michael Gove 8/9/20

For Brexit-related guidance for the food and drink sector see EUExitFoodHub

European Commission Guidance on Import of Composite products into the EU from 21 April 2021 (doc 15-3-21)

CFA 2019 Annual Report

Our latest Annual Report has been published, covering the 2019 calendar year.

  • L. monocytogenes & hospital-catered food:
  • revised BSA guidance produced reflecting high care/risk best practice and not zero tolerance
  • lobbied PHE/PSA & STS to adopt the guidance
  • by invitation presented on best practice at Welsh Govt/NHS/FSA Wales workshop
  • engaged with national media


  • Biocides:
  • Lobbying led to more rational proposed chlorate MRLs and special rule for most ‘processed’ food
  • GFSI microbial resistance paper, user & risk assessment guidance published


  • Implementation Guidance rewritten
  • User exam developed and implemented
  • Aldi signed NDA
  • Training delivered to Aldi, ASDA, Tesco & members
  • SUSSLE2 B cereus risk assessment published


  • Third Party Laboratories:
  • FSS, LGC and PHE engaged on CFA guidance


  • ACMSF:


Priorities for 2020 are set out on the penultimate page, and cover:

  • Education/skills
  • Building knowledge
  • Lobbying for positive change
  • External engagement
  • Knowledge transfer

Free Whole Genome Sequencing Webinar 27 February 2020 – Register Now

Whole Genome Sequencing Webinar Series 2020

Brought to you by: American Bakers Association, American Frozen Food Institute, Chilled Food Association, Consumer Brands Association (formerly GMA), FMI, National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Institute, Peanut and Tree Nut Processors, Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh Produce Association, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and Western Growers Association.

This series contains five different webinar topics surrounding Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) once a month from January to May 2020. WGS is an increasingly valuable tool with a broad scope of applications from food safety management and surveillance to outbreak investigations. The series starts by exploring the basics of whole genome sequencing and how this tool applies to food safety management. In later months, the topic will evolve into sequencing protocols, case studies, regulatory applications and novel applications of the next generation of whole genome sequencing such as metagenomics.


Next generation sequencing and bioinformatics are changing our understanding of the role of comparative food microbiology, from isolate identification and strain discrimination, to more detailed genomic analysis aimed at predicting the antibiotic resistance or pathogenicity. In this webinar, Dr. Jonathan Jacobs will review the technical and logistical fundamentals of implementing end-to-end sequencing and bioinformatics analysis protocols for routine food testing and surveillance. We will also discuss the challenges in constructing and interpreting phylogenetic trees used for strain typing and outbreak surveillance. The presentation will summarize important differences in sequencing platforms, bioinformatics analysis platforms, common pitfalls encountered by newcomers, and critical requirements for building a cost-effective genomics capability that serves the needs of the organization and their stakeholders.

27 FEBRUARY 2020
1900-2000 GMT

Register here

Better Backs, Better Business: 29 April 2020 CFA/IOSH MSD event

CFA and the IOSH Food and Drink Industries Group is pleased to introduce its next event, ‘Better backs, better business‘, aimed at tackling work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the food and drink industries sector.

This event has been designed to raise awareness of MSDs and associated manual handling issues in the sector, providing effective and proven solutions and offering guidance on how to tackle this increasing problem.

What’s in it for you?

While promoting cross-company initiatives, this event will provide delegates with valuable ideas to reduce the frequency of musculoskeletal injuries, offering practical solutions based on real case studies, guidance and training techniques for delegates to take back and apply to their workplaces, with the opportunity to participate in simple warm up exercises to prepare for work.

Who should attend

This event is aimed at food industry managers and team leaders who want to improve their workplace ergonomics, plus those from small-medium businesses aiming to reduce manual handling issues at their sites.

This event will provide a great opportunity for those working in health and safety a valuable opportunity for networking, with the possibility for members to update their CPD.

What you need to know


Bookings are now open. To book your place online, please ‘add to basket’ on the IOSH website, and follow the onscreen instructions. Alternatively, you can download the event flyer to complete the booking form, and return to

Download the event flyer to view the full programme.


An exhibition will be available throughout the event, supported by industry specialist companies showcasing various products and materials to support the event.

Stands are priced at £300+VAT. If you would like to hold an exhibition stand, or require additional information, please contact Ellen Fazackerley, Events Coordinator.

Sweet Sustainable Science – Science Teacher Workshops

11th January 2020, Association for Science Education Conference, University of Reading
What do exploding marshmallows, DNA molecules, liquids and yogurt pots all have in common?
CFA have teamed up with leading Science teacher and author, Sam Holyman, to bring two packed hands-on workshops at ASE 2020. Each activity is linked to the Science National Curriculum, as well as the GCSE specifications in Science and Food Science. Every attendee receives a free resource pack.

Update: See write-up here, and further resources

Session 1: 1030-1130
Session 2: 1400-1500

CFA April 2019 Newsletter

In this edition:

  • International Biocide Work – Outputs Revealed
  • UK Food Safety Leadership Conference
  • Chlorates – Food MRL Proposals Rejected
  • Sustainable Crops Update
  • FSA/FSS Guidance Engagement
  • Teachers Clamour for Chilled Education Resources
  • New Graduate
  • Sweet Sustainable Science – New Lesson Ideas
  • New Opportunities for Chilled Education
  • Glo-germ Kits in Action
  • Versatile MicroTrumps

CFA Newsletter Number 51 April 2019


CFA Annual Report 2018

CFA’s Annual Report for 2018 is now published and available to download.

Highlights include:

  • Project BLUE: funded by National Biofilms Innovation Centre
  • International Shelf Life & Botulinum Guidance: published with BRC/LFR/MLA/QIB
  • GFSI biocides: microbial resistance paper, user guidance to minimise traces in foods developed
  • SUSSLE3: completed, extending applicability to wider WIP
  • Third Party Laboratories: issues identified, activity planned
  • ACMSF: engaged on biocides, VP/MAP guidance



CFA Gets Behind Fridge Temperature Awareness Push

CFA is supporting WRAP’s Chill the Fridge Out campaign (16 October – 4 November) which aims to reduce food waste by raising consumer awareness of correct fridge temperatures. WRAP reports that £15 billion worth of edible food is binned by UK households every year, with incorrect storage being cited as a major cause of its waste.

Fridges need to be kept at 5°C max. Temperatures above this mean that food spoils quicker and gets thrown away earlier.

But WRAP’s research has revealed that half the population doesn’t know what temperature their fridge should be. Additionally, they found that the average domestic fridge is set to 7°C.

The campaign includes an online tool that demonstrates how to achieve the optimum chill temperature in 24 of the most popular fridge brands.

Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Director, explains the relevance: “Food waste is a major contributor to climate change. The UK’s chilled food sector has a long-standing commitment to reducing food waste. We are an early-adopter signatory to the UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap aiming to halve UK food waste by 2030.

We’ve also engaged with Government, WRAP and fridge manufacturers over many years regarding the imperative that appliances run at the correct temperature, so we’re delighted to support WRAP’s campaign “


CFA a UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap Early Adopter

Today (25 September 2018) the UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap is launched, with CFA an Early Adopter signatory, committing to a landmark roadmap aiming to halve UK food waste by 2030.

The Roadmap encompasses the entire supply chain from field to fork, and clearly shows the actions large businesses will take to address food waste both in their own operations, and by working to support their suppliers. It also sets out how these businesses can engage with consumers to help reduce their food waste.

As a signatory of Courtauld 2025 and the UK Plastics Pact, CFA is delighted to play its role with other UK food trade bodies and businesses across the supply chain and Defra, Welsh and Scottish Governments to promote widespread adoption of Target, Measure, Act, which is vital to achieve national policy objectives and targets on food waste reduction.

The first major milestone on the Roadmap is for 50% of the UK’s largest 250 food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by September 2019, and all 250 companies doing so by 2026.

CFA is very pleased that its contribution to work on a standardised data collection template has come to fruition, and will play a key role in delivering the Roadmap.

The Food Waste Atlas is also launched today at the annual event of Champions 12.3. Atlas is the world’s first global reporting portal to allow the capture and reporting of global food loss and waste data in one place. Developed between WRAP and the World Resources Institute, Atlas allows companies and Governments to publish and compare their data with others, including businesses supporting the UK Roadmap.

CFA is proud of the UK chilled prepared food industry’s record in sustainability. We will continue to provide leadership in the sector, building on 15+ years of our industrywide activity including our Sustainability Aims, which relate to energy, water and waste encourage the industry to minimise its carbon footprint, and also incorporate ethics.

For free resources and find out more about the using the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap click here.

New publication: Guidelines for Setting Shelf Life of Chilled Foods in Relation to Non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum

Guidelines for Setting Shelf Life of Chilled Foods in Relation to Non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum

UK food industry and UK and Australian research organisations have produced this guidance, which is designed to ensure that sufficient information is provided by FBOs and laboratories to arrive at valid decisions regarding the shelf life of chilled foods in relation to non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum. The Guidelines are intended to also support FBOs when challenged by Competent Authorities.

The Guidelines summarise in an accessible way:

  • How Food Business Operators should establish shelf life in relation to non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum,
  • What needs to be considered and what actions need to be taken to determine whether challenge testing is appropriate before contacting a laboratory,
  • Global best laboratory practice in the design of challenge testing with non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum in order to give valid scientific data, and
  • How to use these data to establish safe shelf life with respect to non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum

Download PDF: Non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum shelf life guidance – 1st Ed 9/7/18


See also:

CFA Leads Response to FSA Vacuum Packing/MAP Consultation

SUSSLE & the 10 Day Rule for Shelf Life

The 10 Day Rule for Shelf Life

CFA’s Kaarin Goodburn Honoured for Biocides Work

The Society of Food Hygiene & Technology (SOFHT) has recognised CFA’s Director Kaarin Goodburn MBE with its prestigious Dorothy Cullinane Award.

The annual award is presented exclusively by the SOFHT Council to a ‘company or person that has made an outstanding contribution to the food industry, with particular emphasis on food safety and/or food hygiene and/or food technology’.

It was created in memory of Dorothy Cullinane, expert in food labelling and allergy. Previous recipients include founder of the Anaphylaxis Campaign David Reading.

Kaarin received the award for her work on biocide regulation. Since 2014 she has led on biocides issues for UK industry, bringing together some 20 UK trade and professional organisations on the Food & Biocides Industry Group (FBIG).  Under her leadership the group has spearheaded the development of guidance on biocide use in cleaning and disinfection. This, coupled with co-ordinating lobbying at UK and EU level, helped secure recognition by the European Commission that food hygiene and safety must be assured in the regulation of biocides.

In October this year Kaarin was appointed to the Global Food Safety Initiative’s Chemicals in Food Safety Technical Working Group to represent both CFA, FBIG and European Chilled Food Federation. She is the only UK representative to be sitting alongside global brands including Arla Foods, Coca Cola, Danone, Fonterra, Mondelez and Nestle, and chairs the TWG’s Microbial Resistance subgroup.

23 November 2017

CFA pledges support for HSE health & safety Common Strategy 2016-2021


CFA has pledged its support for the food sector’s health and safety improvement objectives set out in the HSE’s Food & Drink Manufacture Forum’s (FDMF) Common Strategy 2016-2021.


The Objectives are to:

  1. Reduce the HSE RIDDOR-reportable ill-health and injury rate by 10% year-on-year (baseline 1/4/16)
  2. Manage musculoskeletal disorder risks including manual handling and upper limb disorders
  3. Have in place effective arrangements to manage slips and trips
  4. Have in place an effective occupational health management system

CFA pledges:

  • To commit CFA to working to help our industry achieve these objectives
  • To promote the Common Strategy via our website, H&S committee or via other communications
  • To benchmark our industry to track progress with the objectives and provide feedback to the FDMF
  • Our members will compile action plans that will help them address the Objectives

The Food and Drink Manufacture Forum (FDMF) is a partnership between Trade Associations, Trade Unions and HSE. CFA has been a member of the Forum since its establishment in 2004.


CFA Leads Response to FSA Vacuum Packing/MAP Consultation

img_6618-2Update December 2020: FSA Removes Fresh meat from the scope of its 2017 Guidance

FSA 10/12/20 statement

CFA statement (10/12/20)

CFA November 2020 submission on fresh meat in response to FSA consultation

Industry is referred to CFA/QIB/LFR/MLA/BRC 2018 guidance on Setting Shelf Life of Chilled Foods in Relation to Non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum, and BRCGS guidance (2018) in relation to fresh meat as the standard approach to taken and BRCGS guidance (2018) in relation to fresh meat as the standard approach to taken.


CFA in summer 2016 brought together a group of trade associations in response to the Food Standard Agency’s (FSA) amended guidance to the ’10 day rule’. In its response to the proposed amendment of the guidance, according to the group, threatens to compromise food safety and the viability of huge sectors of the food industry.

  1. What is the 10 day rule?

The ’10-day rule’ is peculiar to the UK.  It limits the shelf life of vacuum packed and MAP chilled foods to 10 days unless additional hurdles to the growth of non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum are used. It was first set out non-statutory UK guidance published by ACMSF in 1992, revised by ACMSF in 1995, reviewed by ACMSF in 2006 resulting in the 2008 edition.

  1. What happened in 2016-17?

In summer 2016 the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued amended draft guidance which impacted negatively on the viability of £billions worth of foods from meat, dairy and fish to multicomponent chilled food, whilst compromising food safety and failing to recognise work including that on risk assessment it had funded in 2005-6 (project B13006), which had been endorsed by ACMSF.

  1. What is wrong?

The changes proposed to the guidance by FSA and since published in January 2017 go beyond routine updating and clarification and give rise to a number of concerns. They compromise food safety by the required laboratory approach, do not reflect modern manufacturing methods or risk assessment, or recent research including SUSSLE projects. Also, no Impact Assessment was carried out by FSA.

  1. What have we done?

CFA in 2016 drew together a group of seven trade associations (British Meat Processors Association, Provision Trade Federation, Seafish, International Meat Trade Association, National Association of Catering Butchers, National Federation of Meat and Food Traders) and the Institute of Food Research (IFR, now Quadram Institute Bioscience), formed a strong consensus and made a detailed submission to FSA.

  1. What do we want?

Industry and IFR requested that the document be withdrawn from the Internet, enforcement activity be put on hold pending a more substantive technical review in which the scientific evidence base for change can be properly evaluated, and a full impact assessment be carried out.

The group has offered assistance with the review, either through the reconvening of a working group similar to that which developed the original guidance on the basis of advice from the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food, or in the context of a new ACMSF report.

Update December 2020: FSA Removes Fresh meat from the scope of its 2017 Guidance

FSA 10/12/20 statement

CFA statement (10/12/20)

CFA November 2020 submission on fresh meat in response to FSA consultation

Industry is referred to CFA/QIB/LFR/MLA/BRC 2018 guidance on Setting Shelf Life of Chilled Foods in Relation to Non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum , and BRCGS guidance (2018) in relation to fresh meat as the standard approach to taken and BRCGS guidance (2018) in relation to fresh meat as the standard approach to taken.

Update July 2018: Industry Shelf Life Guidance Published

In July 2018, a consortium of UK food industry (CFA and BRC) and UK and Australian research organisations (Leatherhead Food Research, Meat & Livestock Australia and Quadram Institute Bioscience) issued Guidelines for Setting Shelf Life of Chilled Foods in Relation to Non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum, designed to ensure that sufficient information is provided by FBOs and laboratories to arrive at valid decisions regarding the shelf life of chilled foods in relation to non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum. The Guidelines are intended to also support FBOs when challenged by Competent Authorities.

Download PDF: Non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum shelf life guidance – 1st Ed 9/7/18


Related documents on the CFA website:

CFA Leads on Defence of Biocides to Protect Food Safety and Hygiene

As reported in the CFA’s recent newsletters (winter 2015 and spring 2016)#Cleaning Techniques 1 - Copy (2)  two technical reviews into the use of biocides are impacting on the availability of the effective disinfectants vital to assure food hygiene through the food chain.

In response to the reviews CFA is leading the industry group which is developing guidance on the use of biocides in cleaning and disinfection, and leading lobbying at UK and with the EC.

Read press coverage of the story in Food Manufacture.

Concerns raised

Biocides in disinfectants and sanitisers are used routinely both in food production and in the home to prevent microbiological contamination of our food. They are used throughout the supply chain and are very important in the production of high quality safe food, contributing to food safety assurance and helping to protect the consumer. Concerns have been expressed repeatedly in UK official reports that clear guidance on cleaning and disinfection needs to be made available to enforcers and smaller businesses to ensure that it is being carried out properly.

The European Commission is proposing regulating the traces of such compounds in foodstuffs. The presence of a trace of biocide does not indicate that there is any risk to human health. The positive benefits of using biocides to prevent microbiological contamination needs to be balanced with the need to set practical levels.

Biocides essential to maintain food hygiene standards

Food poisoning outbreaks are rare in the UK. The UK food industry places an absolute priority on food safety. Good Agricultural Practices, hygienic preparation and packaging minimise the potential for contamination, and the use of biocides and cleaning agents play an essential role in maintaining high standards of food hygiene.

The UK food industry, led by CFA, has stressed to both UK authorities and the European Commission the need to maintain an adequate range of effective biocides and cleaning agents in order not to compromise food safety through increased microbiological risk.


The safety and quality of food is paramount to the industry which is working with the UK authorities and participate in discussions with the European Commission to ensure that food safety remains the key driver for any recommendations to set Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs).

Good practice for use of biocides

The positions of the food and hygiene industries on the issue are aligned, including at EU level. The main aim is now for the EC to recognise that it is not appropriate to apply MRLs as biocides used for disinfection (of water and equipment etc) are not being used as Plant Protection Products (i.e. pesticides).

Good practice approaches to the use of biocides for cleaning and disinfection are set out in the new UK Food and Biocides Industry Group guidance, which CFA leads.

Download the UK food and hygiene industry position statement.



10 March 2016. Updated 6 April 2016.

CFA’s Chilled Resources Feature in Sainsbury’s Waste less, Save more campaign

56b101629baf0_default_bigCFA has been working in partnership with Sainsbury’s to supply bespoke fridge thermometers to residents in South Derbyshire as part of the retailer’s Waste less, Save more campaign.

Sainsbury’s created their own version of the fridge thermometers that CFA offers through its Chilled Education programme. The thermometers provide customers with a simple reminder to check their fridges are at the right temperature for storing fresh food to avoid unnecessary waste.

Some 15,000 ‘Waste less, Save more’ fridge thermometers are now checking the temperature in domestic fridges in Swadlincote and the surrounding areas. Many of these customers will be contacted in a few weeks in order to assess how useful they have found the device in order to inform the campaign’s development.

Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Director explains: “Thermometers take the guesswork out of checking a fridge’s temperature but are also a way to raise awareness of the importance of correct food storage, for reasons of safety as well as quality. Sainsbury’s use of the thermometers will contribute to people’s understanding of food safety in the home, as well as reducing waste.”


CFA Supports WRAP Voluntary Agreements

CFA’s longstanding relationship with waste reduction and sustainability charity WRAP,  spans almost two decades. The Association was a founding signatory of WRAP’s Courtauld 2025 (C2025) Commitment and a signatory of WRAPs Courtauld Commitment 2030.

CFA is also a member of a group that is developing WRAP Scope 3 Green House Gases Measurement and Reporting Protocols. CFA encourages its members to support The Food Waste Reduction Roadmap (a free access initiative for UK food businesses, developed by industry in collaboration with WRAP and the IGD).

The commitments bring together food organisations – from producer to consumer – in voluntary agreements to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable. They have set various targets that help signatories on their journey to become more sustainable by setting individual business targets.

CFA Director Karin Goodburn explains: “Chilled prepared food has an excellent track record in sustainability, with, for example, more than 99% of food waste diverted from landfill. So we are natural partners for WRAP in this commitment. CFA’s longstanding sustainability activity, our Chilled Education programme including advice on how best to store and use food, and our shelf life research (SUSSLE) all contribute to C2030’s aims.

The Courtauld Commitment 2030 is a voluntary agreement from WRAP, that enables collaborative action across the entire UK food chain to deliver farm-to-fork reductions in food waste, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water stress. We are delighted to work in partnership with the CFA, as one of our engagement partners, to collaborate, promote changes and share best practice which will help deliver the collective Courtauld 2030 ambition. In a world where the effects of climate change are becoming ever more visible and damaging, it’s ever more important that everyone contributes to play their part in achieving our shared goals.” Catherine David, Chair of Courtauld Director of Behaviour Change and Business Programmes WRAP

CFA is proud to have built up partnership with various stakeholders to accelerate sustainability agenda.


26 March 2024

CFA’s Latest Newsletter Available

The November issue leads with CFA’s response to the Food Standards Agency’s Vacuum Packing/MAP consultation. 

It also brings news of changing faces, site visits, new members and a special award for an industry colleague.

Chilled Education is also celebrating with a bright new star, success at a major science fair and the launch of a brand new website.


Teaching Science Using Food – new lesson plans

CFA’s Chilled Education (CEd) partnership with the Association for Science Education (ASE) continues with the launch of four new free lesson plans exploring microbial structure of Lactobacillus in yoghurt, the effects of atmospheric gases on lettuce pinking, microbial modelling using ComBase software and genetic adaptation in relation to E. coli and C. botulinum.

These complement the existing lesson, which investigates the effect of pH on yeast growth in fruit juice. The resources have been developed by CEd with science teachers Sam Holyman (Bablake School) and Kat Stuart (Myland School) and are available through the links below:

SET 1. The effect of pH on yeast activity in fruit juice
Investigating pH and Soft_Drinks Lesson Plan.pdf
Investigating pH and Soft Drinks Student Practical Sheet.pdf
Food_Spoilage_HWK and Teacher_Notes.pdf

SET 2. Microbes in yoghurt
Yoghurt Lesson Plan.pdf
Microbes in yoghurt.ppt

SET 3: Investigating the pinking of lettuce
Investigating Lettuce Pinking Lesson  Plan.pdf
Investigating Lettuce Pinking Practical and Teachers Notes.pdf
Lettuce Pinking.ppt 
Lettuce Pinking_HWK and Teachers Notes.pdf

SET 4: Modelling microbial growth
Modelling Microbe Growth Student Practical Sheet.pdf 
Modelling Microbial Growth.ppt

SET 5: Species variation and genetic adaptation


SET 6: DNA Structure and Modelling

DNA Structure and Modelling Lesson Plan & Teacher Notes
DNA Structure and Modelling 
DNA Structure and Modelling Practical
DNA Structure & Modelling Homework

SET 7: Microorganisms and MicroTrumps

KS2 Microorganisms and MicroTrumps – Lesson Plan
KS2 Microorganisms and MicroTrumps ppt
KS2 Extension – make more MicroTrumps (print double sided)



SUSSLE2 Heralds New Era for Chilled

CFA’s second Sustainable Shelf Life Extension project (SUSSLE2) concluded successfully in December 2015. All objectives were met by these £1.3m projects, with a unique quantitative microbiological risk assessment being used to underpin identification of a milder heat process than previously recommended, ensuring a safe shelf life for prepared chilled foods whilst reducing energy usage and improving organoleptic properties.

Lead researcher Professor Mike Peck of the Institute of Food Research explains: “The conclusion of this project is a milestone for the chilled food industry. The SUSSLE Process is based on sound scientific principles, with a robust and transparent scientific basis assuring safety at least equivalent to that for the current 10 day rule. Through this research we have identified a new, flexible approach using storage chill temperature and a combination
of factors which can be shown consistently to prevent growth/toxin formation, These are exciting times for the chilled food sector and the keen interest in SUSSLE already being expressed shows the significance of this work.”

Ten CFA Implementation Workshops have trained more than 80 members in the use of SUSSLE to date.

Six major multiples have signed non-disclosure agreements with CFA enabling them to discuss SUSSLE with eligible CFA members exclusively until 1 January 2018. Multiples have been invited to sign up to non-expiring confidentiality terms, but will not be given access to the process validation software, this being restricted to manufacturers. SUSSLE will be accessible by non-member manufacturers signing an NDA, attending an Implementation Workshop, complying with CFA’s Implementation Guidance and paying a licence fee.

Scientific papers relating to SUSSLE are to be published in high impact peer-reviewed journals.

The first of these has now been published: Quantification of non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum spore loads in food materials, Applied and Environmental Microbiology  doi: 10.1128/AEM.03630-15.


A second open access paper arising from the SUSSLE projects has been published: Risk presented to minimally processed chilled foods by psychrotrophic Bacillus cereus.

Posted 20 January 2016, updated 2019

New Chair and Vice Chair for Chilled Food Association

Alan Botham - Northern Foods Ltd - CFA Chairman 22 6 15 (2)CFA has announced its new Chair and Vice Chair for 2015/2016. These positions are held by CFA Full Member companies with a nominated individual representing that company. Northern Foods Ltd, part of 2SFG, is represented by Alan Botham, 2SFG ‎Technical Services Director, he takes up the CFA Chair role. Oscar Mayer is represented by Group Technical Director Dr Clive Woolley who joins Alan as Vice Chair.

Northern Foods is a founder member of CFA and Alan has been involved since 1999. Oscar Mayer joined in 2002 and Clive joined CFA’s Board in 2014.

Alan said: “The continuing development of our dynamic industry means that CFA’s role becomes ever-more critical. Our reputation for leading the field, both in the UK and internationally is built on sound science. Our research continues to innovate and our lobbying work ensures that the voice of chilled is heard across government and the wider industry – always keeping the consumer in mind, offering choice, taste and the highest quality.

“I am pleased to be chairing CFA and look forward to bringing my expertise and experience to the role over the next twelve months.”

Kaarin Goodburn MBE, CFA Director added: “Alan’s technical experience, both of the industry and within CFA ideally places him for this role. And Clive also brings skills that will further strengthen our work. Everything we do is underpinned by our chilled expertise and I am proud of our reputation for excellence. I know Alan will continue the strategic drive of CFA.”

Alan Botham has held his current position since 2014, he was previously Head of Technical Services for 2 Sisters Food Group and previous to that the Group Policy and Compliance Controller for Northern Foods (1999 – 2012).

Dr Clive Woolley has been Group Technical Director at Oscar Mayer since 2014, prior to this he’d held senior technical roles at Morrisons, Premier Foods and Grampian Foods. He was Director of Food Safety at RHM from 1988 – 2005.