Fifth industry accolade for Food Centre team

Reaseheath College’s outstanding Food Processing Halls team has once again achieved the highest standards of Food Safety and Hygiene within a food production facility.

Following a rigorous audit against the latest BRCGS (British Retail Consortium Global Standard) Version 8, the team has been awarded the prestigious AA standard for the fifth consecutive year. This is the highest possible benchmark for best practice in food manufacture and proof that our Food Centre operates under highly controlled conditions and at the highest industry standards.

Delighted Processing Halls Manger Mike Bennett said: “As always this was a tough two days, with a new auditor unfamiliar with our process. The auditor was extremely thorough in his approach, checking hygiene standards and our adherence to policies and procedures.

“He was extremely complimentary about student engagement and emphasised the importance of our work in ensuring students are ‘industry ready’.

“Huge credit goes to Quality Assurance Co-ordinator Laura Bateman for her tireless efforts to implement our Quality Management System and ensure compliance against the BRC standard. The performance of our whole Food Team has been outstanding, with everyone contributing to ensuring a satisfactory and deserved outcome.

“This result demonstrates that the team has an exceptional food safety management system in place and shows commitment and continual improvement around food safety. This is without doubt a fantastic achievement.”

Laura Bateman said: “I’m overjoyed that we have maintained our AA grade status. This is a great accolade for the college and specifically for the Food Centre. The AA grade supports our ‘working to industry standards’ approach and was noted by the auditor throughout the two day audit. A positive team approach is necessary for this audit to be successful, so I thank the team again for their hard work and dedication.”

The audit was led by Laura with support from Food Technologists Jen Newall, Penny Masters, Kate Chantler, Zoe Hodge, Jane Gilman, Isla Newall, Sue Moors, Maintenance Engineers Elliott Bateman and Damien Murphy and Food Centre Manager Nick Blakemore.

This is the final audit against Issue 8 of the standard, following the release of Issue 9, with audits starting in February 2023. Next year will bring new challenges for the team, as there are multiple updates to the new issue.

These include:

  • Substantial expansion of the food safety culture plan
  • Developments around food defence and the sites treat assessment
  • New controls around purchase of equipment
  • Further focus on allergen controls
  • Changes to food fraud risks
  • Risks from outsource processing to be captured in the sites HACCP plan
  • Controls on mezzanine floors
  • Hygiene controls on mobile equipment such as pallet trucks and ladders
  • Stricter checks on label control

Grade AA certification is aimed at suppliers of major retailers. Although Reaseheath does not necessarily need this highest standard to operate, the college’s ethos is to ensure students are trained under industry conditions.

Reaseheath’s £7 million Food Centre was opened in 2011 and remains one of the best equipped food processing teaching and practical facilities in Europe. Built to exacting standards and staffed by a team of specialist food technologists recruited directly from the food industry, the centre has dairy processing halls and production areas for butchery, bakery, cake design and confectionery.

Many local, national and international food and drink manufacturers hire our facilities for new product research and development, technical advice or staff training.

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