CFA is supporting WRAP’s Chill the Fridge Outcampaign (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 theUK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap aiming to halve UK food waste by 2030.
We’ve also engaged with Government, WRAP andfridge manufacturers over many years regarding the imperative that appliances run at the correct temperature, so we’re delighted to support WRAP’s campaign “
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.
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
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.
Consequently, leafy salads sold as washed and ready to eat are thoroughly washed in water. The water is often chlorinated or treated with fruit acids to ensure that the leaves are as clean as possible and fit for immediate consumption without further washing.
Prewashed prepared produce does not benefit from rewashing in the home as this may result in cross-contamination, and does not further improve hygiene.
There is a constant development programme throughout the salad industry to find new efficient, cost effective, and environmentally acceptable washing approaches ranging from spring water washing through to the use of fruit acid based biocides and chlorine derivatives.
All washing approaches that are in commercial use have been assessed and validated as fit for purpose.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 July 2018: Indsutry 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.
As reported in the CFA’s recent newsletters (winter 2015 andspring 2016) 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.
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).
CFA 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 is a founding signatory of waste reduction and sustainability charity WRAP’s Courtauld 2025 (C2025) Commitment.
The Commitment brings together food organisations – from producer to consumer – in a 10 year voluntary agreement to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable. Its targets include: 20% reduction in food and drink waste in the UK; 20% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity of food and drink consumed in the UK and a reduction in the impact associated with water use in the supply chain.
CFA Director Kaarin 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 C2025’s aims.”
Richard Swannell, Director of Sustainable Food Systems continues: “Courtauld 2025 is our most ambitious agreement yet and we are delighted that CFA has pledged their support. We are faced with big challenges – rising populations, climate change and dwindling resources. But tackling food waste offers a practical option to address these challenges and, in doing so, will create new opportunities. Only by working together can we realise the big changes that are essential to ensure a more prosperous future for individuals, businesses and the planet.”
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:
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.
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.