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BRC Issue 8 – what’s new?

BRC Issue 8 auditingThe much-anticipated BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8 is published in August this year. It is 3 years since the Standard was last updated and there have been a few major changes in that time. The new Issue 8 is still in draft format although it’s likely that most of the changes put forward will be adopted. This includes greater focus and responsibility on Senior Management. Managers will need to demonstrate a commitment to continual improvement through the establishment of a strategic plan for a robust food safety culture.

What other changes will there be between BRC Issue 7  and BRC Issue 8?

In addition there will be new environmental monitoring clauses and a requirement for root cause analysis procedures. Following the 2 Sisters scandal, companies will also need to implement a confidential whistle-blower reporting system.  This will enable staff to report concerns relating to product safety, integrity, quality and legality.

Other changes likely to be approved concern the creation of a new section where all high-risk, high-care and ambient high care requirements are centralised. There will also be a focus on cyber security and greater clarity for sites manufacturing pet food.  Another area concerns global applicability and benchmarking to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Where can I find the BRC Global Standard documentation?

You can view both the current BRC 7 and the draft version of BRC 8 by using the links below.

BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 7

BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8 DRAFT

BRC 8 will be effective from February 2019. Therefore, anyone who has an audit after the end of January 2019 will need to familiarise themselves with the differences between BRC Issue 7 and BRC Issue 8.

For information on all our auditing courses, please click here.

training for food safety cultureIf you work in the food industry, it’s essential that you have the correct training. As a minimum, anyone handling food for public consumption needs to have basic food safety training. Poor food hygiene can lead to unsafe food being sold or served. Unsafe food can result in serious illness or, in extreme cases, death. In addition, it can damage your business reputation, incur hefty fines and even put the future of the business in jeopardy.

In some instances training is simply seen as a box-ticking exercise. But what’s the point of that? Sure, you can demonstrate that the training has been undertaken, but how is that really of benefit?

Training is only truly effective if you understand the reasons why you need to perform a particular task in a certain way. It’s also only effective if you take what you have learned and use it in the workplace. Doing ‘just enough’ doesn’t really help anyone, and now business managers are realising there is a case for going ‘beyond compliance‘.

Create a food safety culture within your company

The ideal situation is to achieve a food safety culture where food safety and continuous improvement are a way of life. To achieve this you need buy-in from all members of staff in every department. It needs to be led and championed by senior management. They need to demonstrate that food safety is of the utmost importance and must be taken seriously. As seriously as productivity and profits. That means by everyone in the company, during every shift.

You should write the importance of food safety into the company’s mission statement. Ensure it is part of the company’s vision to continually improve. Encourage staff to be proactive rather than reactive. For example, has a prominent food manufacturer had a serious food safety recall recently? Keep abreast of the facts. Also keep your ear to the ground for any industry innovations and any updates in legislation.

handwashingIn a busy and competitive working environment there are inevitably production pressures and tight deadlines. However, it’s vitally important that employees follow SOPs correctly. Failure to do so can compromise food safety.

That’s why as part of a training programme it should be explained clearly not just which tasks need to be performed, but the consequences of not performing them, or of performing them out of sequence. Supervisors need to be trained to ensure that SOPs are being followed and to monitor performance. Ongoing staff training is important, but so is the provision of the correct tools to do the job – and the requisite PPE.

Ensure all staff are engaged in making food safety a priority

One of the major hurdles to be overcome when developing a food safety culture is staff engagement. If the staff currently have no say in decision-making, or are disengaged from work in any other way, they are likely to have the ‘not my problem’ attitude when things go wrong. The way to counter this is by involving them in decisions regarding food safety policy.  Make them feel valued, give them ownership of their tasks/area and providing training. You can reward them for positive food safety behaviour and get them to realise that food safety is an important part of their jobs.

Feel comfortable during audits

Another positive to come out of a food safety culture is that you should feel comfortable during an unannounced audit. You can enrol some staff in  Auditing Skills or Lead Auditor training to ensure you’re fully prepared and carry out regular internal audits and inspections.

It should get to a point where food safety protocol is followed as a matter of course. It just becomes part of a daily routine. Going over and above to ensure food safety should become the norm instead of doing the bare minimum and hoping for the best.

Alsion Wheelock and Keith Stamp ethical auditing specialists

Alison Wheelock and Keith Stamp

One of the UK’s leading independent food industry training consultancies has acquired a well-respected ethical auditing company.

Verner Wheelock, based in Skipton, North Yorkshire, has seen the ethical auditing side of its business grow over the past couple of years. To build on this success it has now purchased ethical trade auditing company, Keith Stamp Social Auditing (KSSA) from owner Keith Stamp.

Established in 1998, KSSA is an ethical trading and social compliance specialist with a small team of auditors who are highly-experienced in Corporate Social Responsibility, Human Resources and Health & Safety Management.

20 years’ experience of ethical trade audits

The company has nearly 20 years’ experience conducting SMETA ethical trade audits and has worked with most major retailers throughout their supply chains. Typical businesses audited include growers and packers of produce, bakeries, meat plants, fisheries and food processors.

Verner Wheelock MD, Alison Wheelock said, “We have worked in tandem with KSSA for several years, so when Keith announced he would like to take a step back, it seemed the ideal opportunity.  For the past two years we have provided an audit management service for KSSA ethical audits.

We can assure current KSSA customers that we will continue to provide the high standard of service and professionalism that they have come to expect, and look forward to continued long-term relationships with them.  We are delighted that Keith Stamp will continue to work with Verner Wheelock as a consultant and ethical auditor.  He has a wealth of knowledge and we value his input greatly.”

Verner Wheelock perfectly placed for acquisition

Verner Wheelock was formed in 1990 and has been a major player in food industry training ever since. As well as its ethical auditing service, which is also focused on the food industry, it provides training in HACCP, Food Safety and Auditing, together with specialist courses such as VACCP & TACCP, Legal Labelling and Root Cause Analysis. Customers read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the food industry.

Media attention focusing on issues of child labour, human trafficking and modern slavery, health and safety breaches , low wages and long hours has led to greater public awareness and concern over ethical trade issues.  In today’s global marketplace, with ever more complex supply chains, there is an increasing necessity for organisations to act in an ethical and socially responsible manner and to demonstrate that they are doing so.

Verner Wheelock will continue to conduct Sedex Member Ethical Trade Audits (SMETA), the findings of which are shared through The Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex).  They work to a consistent, professional standard to ensure that all audits are in compliance with the internationally-recognised Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code.  Verner Wheelock is also a member of APSCA – the Association of Professional Social Compliance Auditors.  APSCA is a global organisation which aims to improve the quality of social compliance audits with a view to contributing to the improvement of workplace conditions.

To find out more about ethical audits click here


Chocolate Easter eggsDid you know that Cadbury’s make between 40 and 50 million Easter Eggs each year? That a whole lot of eggs! As with every other large scale food manufacturing operation, chocolate producers need to have a HACCP plan in place. But first, let’s look at the various stages in producing chocolate.

How chocolate is made

At the cocoa farm

Cocoa harvestThe first stage of the chocolate chain is harvesting. Cocoa pods are collected and then split so that the white pulp containing the cocoa beans can be scooped out.

Next workers place the pods and pulp into large containers where they ferment. Someone turns the beans periodically so that they ferment evenly. The process takes around 5 days.

Drying is the next process. This is generally achieved by spreading the beans out into a single layer and leaving them in the sun in temperate countries. Otherwise they are dried by the fire.

The cocoa beans are then placed into sacks and exported to the chocolate maker.

Cocoa beansAt the chocolate manufacturer

Once the beans have been received and checked, they are roasted. The next step is known as winnowing. This is the process of blowing air through the product to remove the husks from the cocoa beans. What you are left with what are known as nibs.

The nibs go through a grinding and conching process. Depending on the size of the manufacturer this is either done separately or in a single process. The end result is refined granules of cocoa containing both cocoa mass (cocoa solids) and cocoa butter. The more cocoa butter in a bar of chocolate, the better the quality of the chocolate. Some manufacturers replace some of the cocoa butter with cheaper vegetable fats. The ground particles are combined with sugar and other flavourings. This is where the milk powder is added if it is to be milk chocolate.

Melted chocolateThe mixture is then tempered. This means heating and then cooling and then heating it again so that crystals form that allows the chocolate to snap, rather than crumble. This process is done in a large tempering machine which can accurately control the temperatures and keep the liquid chocolate circulating evenly.

The final step in producing a chocolate bar or Easter egg is pouring the melted chocolate into plastic moulds and leaving them to cool. They are then tapped out, wrapped and boxed, ready for transportation.

Hazards in chocolate production

bluebottleAs with any food production process, there are various physical, chemical and microbiological hazards present in chocolate manufacture. At the receiving stage of the cocoa pods these are wood, chaff, plant materials, pesticides and fertilisers and pests, such as insects or worms.

During the splitting process you need to be vigilant of metal shards, chemicals from equipment used and potential contamination from handlers.

The fermentation process often takes place in wooden containers, so there is the danger of pieces of wood. There is also the risk of growth of salmonella microbes.

Hazards whilst drying the beans include dust and foreign objects. Also the development of mould if the beans are not left to dry properly before being bagged.

Once the beans reach the chocolate manufacturer there is the risk of microbial growth due to insufficient roasting times and temperatures. At winnowing there is also the potential for contamination due to foreign objects in the air, dust , pollution and microbes.

Chocolate mouldGrinding and conching hazards include stones and other physical contaminants from added ingredients, metal shards and chemical taint from equipment as well as microbial contamination.  At the tempering stage there is also the risk of metal fragments as well as contamination form poorly maintained equipment.

During moulding physical hazards include dust particles, plastic materials and microbiological contamination from poorly cleaned moulds. Packing hazards are foreign objects, labelling ink and packing materials.

Prerequisites for chocolate producers

Of course, many hazards can be avoided by the implementation of an effective prerequisite programme. This includes such areas as pest control, cleaning programmes and waste control. Other factors include operator training, employee personal hygiene and the use of PPC as well as scheduled preventative maintenance programmes.

Regular calibration is also essential. Many Critical Control Points rely on the accuracy of meters, thermometers, gauges, pH meters, metal detectors, timing devices, scales and pressure gauges. Tolerances are often minute so even a slight inaccuracy can compromise food safety.

Control Points and Critical Control Points

Just a reminder that in a HACCP programme a Critical Control Point (CCP) is a step where control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level. In many instances in food production it is the heating, cooking or cooling stage. Another CCP is a final metal detection. Essentially a CCP is the last point in a process where the food safety hazard can be controlled.

There are several control points in the chocolate production process, but only a couple of them are critical.

Control points in chocolate production

chocolate bar

  • Receiving – visual inspection , use of chemical-free materials, building maintenance
  • Splitting – Magnetic separator, sanitised equipment, personal hygiene
  • Fermentation– visual inspection, regular maintenance of fermentation tanks
  • Drying – visual inspection, observation of time and temperature
  • Roasting – correct time and temperature to kill pathogens
  • Grinding – visual inspection, sanitisation of equipment
  • Conching – visual inspection, proper maintenance of equipment
  • Tempering – visual inspection, sanitised equipment
  • Moulding – ensure moulds are clean
  • Packing – metal detection, food grade inks, appropriate packaging materials, correct labelling

Examples of Critical Control Points are during the roasting and wrapping processes. The cocoa beans need to be roasted at temperatures between 105?C and 120?C and to specific times to eliminate pathogens. The chocolate bars or eggs also need to be wrapped in aseptic conditions. Metal detection is also a critical control point.

To view our latest training courses in HACCP and Food Safety, please click here.

Happy Easter!

What is a Thermal Process Flavour?

A thermal process flavour is produced by heating together two or more flavour precursors under carefully controlled conditions. It is sometimes called a ‘reaction’ flavour. Thermal process flavours are created through the Maillard reaction. This is a reaction between a nitrogen containing compound and a reducing sugar.

The Maillard reaction occurs naturally when roasting, grilling, baking, boiling, frying or toasting foods containing protein and carbohydrate. A good example of it is the flavour generated when a piece of steak is fried in butter. The fat breaks down and produces a caramelised taste.

What is a flavour precursor?

A flavour precursor is a product, which doesn’t necessarily have  flavouring properties itself. It is  intentionally added to food to produce flavour by breaking down or reacting with other components during food processing. Carbohydrates, amino acids and oligopeptides are  examples of flavour precursors.

Why do we need flavourings?

There are a number of reasons why we use flavourings. They are often used to give a specific flavour to a product, e.g. chicken flavour crisps, or to replace an original flavour which might have been lost during food processing. Flavourings are added to ready meals, soups, snacks, gravies and sauces etc.

Also, the demand for healthier food which is lower in fat, sugar, salt or calories has also seen more use of flavourings in food. Removing fat, sugar and salt also removes  flavour so flavourings are used to make them more palatable.

Umami – The fifth flavour sensation

parmesan cheeseThought there were just four basic types of flavour?  Think again. Umami is neither salt, sweet, bitter or sour. It is roughly translated from the Japanese as ‘yummy deliciousness’ or ‘a pleasant savoury taste.’ The taste was isolated early in the 20th century and found to be glutamate. This is an amino acid released in certain savoury foods, often through cooking or fermentation, which makes them taste delicious. When it is combined with a group of chemicals called ribonucleotides, which also occur naturally in many foods, it creates a ‘moreish’ taste on the taste buds – umami.

The umami taste is found naturally in foods such as parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, soy, mushrooms, cured meats, dried fish, other cheeses, cured meats, slow cooked meats and vegetables, such as soups or broth.

Create your own Thermal Process Flavours

If you’re a graduate working in NPD and flavour technology in the food, seasonings and flavour industries, you might be interested in a specialist course we are running. Creating Thermal Process Flavours is a unique laboratory based reaction flavours course tutored by leading flavour chemist Professor David Baines and  flavour specialist Richard Seal.

Creating Savoury FlavoursThe course comprises a range of specialist lectures and hands-on practical sessions to reinforce the learning. You will have the freedom to create your own process meat flavours. These will then be applied and evaluated in relevant food products.

Creating Thermal Process Flavours takes place in Skipton from 29th October to 2nd November. To find out more and book your place, please click here.

Ahead of the course, Professor Baines is speaking at FlavourTalk in Amsterdam on Thursday 15th March. His  lecture will explore the evidence for the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) recent decision to introduce an Acceptable Daily Intake for glutamic acid and glutamates as food additives.


About Professor Baines

Professor David BainesProfessor Baines specialises in food flavours with specific expertise in flavours derived using cooking processes. He has worked across 5 continents with food and flavour companies. David is author of several papers and book chapters and is named on 5 flavour patents. He co-edited the book ‘Natural Food Additives, Ingredients and Flavourings.’ He is also co-editor of the internet flavour bulletin ‘Flavour Horizons’. He was recently appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Reading.

Verner Wheelock, one of the UK’s foremost food industry training companies, has achieved ISO 9001:2015 accreditation. The company, which was founded in 1990, trains hundreds of delegates every year in HACCP, Food Safety, Auditing and specialist courses such as Root Cause Analysis, as well as performing SMETA ethical audits.

ISO 9001 logical next step

ISO 9001:2015 logoThe decision to work towards the ISO quality management system standard was driven by the growth of the company over the past few years. Managing Director, Alison Wheelock, said, “We have experienced a dramatic growth in the number of both open and in-house courses in recent years and consequently in the number of people trained. Achieving ISO 9001 seemed like a logical next step.

We wanted to make sure that, even at maximum capacity, we were still able to guarantee the high standard of service and professionalism that our customers have come to expect. With increased numbers of delegates, courses and trainers, the systems introduced have helped us to have greater consistency in course materials. It’s also proving beneficial for efficiency in course material updates and document control, acting on feedback and formalising systems.”

Wheelock says that the accreditation will make it easier to do business with larger customers especially in terms of their growing Ethical Audit work.

A commitment to excellent customer service

Mitch Morrison

Mitch Morrison

Mitch Morrison, Verner Wheelock’s Administration Controller was responsible for managing the project over a 12 month period in collaboration with Global QA Consultants said, “We’ve always had an attention to detail and a commitment to providing excellent customer service. Working towards ISO 9001 has helped us to streamline processes and formalise our current practices. As anyone who’s embarked on this journey will know, it’s a long and intensive one, but being approved by LRQA to ISO 9001:2015 has definitely been worthwhile in the end.”

Are you looking to kick-start your career?

Training Support Assistant, Skipton, North Yorkshire  

– Please note this position has now been filled

If you’ve recently left school or college or are looking for an apprenticeship position, you could be just the person we’re looking for!

Verner Wheelock has a fantastic entry level opportunity to join our successful food industry training consultancy based in the beautiful surroundings of the Broughton Hall Estate, just outside Skipton.

We’ve been established since 1990 and train hundreds of delegates every year in subjects such as Food Safety, HACCP, Auditing and other specialist areas. We have an excellent reputation for training and customer service.

This full-time, permanent, Training Support role is an ideal first or second job.  You’ll be taking care of admin duties to make sure everything runs smoothly for our training courses and exams.

What will I need?

  • We’re looking for someone with good levels of literacy, numeracy and attention to detail.
  • You’ll also be an organised self-starter, with the ability to multi-task
  • A flexible, ‘can-do’ approach is necessary as you will be working as part of a small team.
  • You’ll have excellent IT skills and will ideally be  familiar with databases, spreadsheets and PowerPoint.
  • You’re always polite and professional when dealing with clients, both face-to-face and over the telephone.
  • You’re  reliable.

What will I be doing?

This role has loads of different duties to keep you busy, from helping prepare course material and keeping it updated, to booking locations for courses. You’ll be involved with the chasing of purchase orders and ordering office supplies, as well as dealing with post and incoming phone calls.

When courses are running the role will also include setting up the training room, providing refreshments and meeting and greeting delegates.

Full training will be given.

How much will I get paid?

The salary for this position is £7.50 per hour, plus bonus scheme and company pension.

How to apply

If you feel you have the desired skills and enthusiasm for the role, and would like to join our small, friendly team then we would love to hear from you.

Contact Mitch Morrison or Alison Wheelock on 01756 700802 in the first instance, or email your CV to office@vwa.co.uk

You can find out more about Verner Wheelock and what we do at  www.vwa.co.uk

UK MapSo, you’ve been on Google, found the training course your staff need, but there’s a problem. You’re based in the South East and the training provider is up in North Yorkshire. It’s a two-day course, so the expense of travel and accommodation is fairly prohibitive for the 7 staff you want to train. That’s on top of the cost of the training itself.  However, there’s no need to despair – simply book an in-house course instead.

At Verner Wheelock we can run any of the courses we advertise at our Skipton training centre at your own premises. We can even develop bespoke courses too, relevant to your own products or sector, or to resolve problems and ongoing issues.

In-house courses are cost-effective – ask for a quote

moneySeveral of our customers take advantage of the fact that in-house courses can be particularly cost-effective and make their training budget go further. For example, to send an individual on our 5-day open Level 4 Food Safety course would cost £895 + VAT. However, when you have 5-12 staff that need training, one of our trainers could visit your premises and deliver exactly the same course which could save several hundred pounds.

Plus, the more people you train, the lower the cost per person. We recommend a maximum of 15 for basic level courses such as Level 2 Food Safety or Level 2 HACCP. For more advanced courses such as Level 4 Food Safety or HACCP or Lead Auditor we stipulate a maximum of 12 people – the same as at our open courses.  As we charge an overall course fee, it means you get value for money if you can fill an in-house course with 12 delegates.

Train at a time to suit your staff – flexible dates

planningFrom a scheduling point of view in-house courses at your site are also a good idea. You can choose the dates that are the most convenient for you and your shift schedule. Perhaps you have a quieter time of year when more staff are available, or there are certain days of the month that are less busy? We will always do our utmost to fit in with your requirements – we can even train on the night shift!

Also, our 5-day Level 4 Food Safety course, for example, could be delivered in one week, or as 1 day per week for 5 weeks, or over 2-3 weeks or any combination to suit your staff.

There is plenty to commend open courses in terms of interaction and shared ideas with others working in different environments. However, when you book an in-house course, all the focus is on your own business and how the training can be applied internally. Delegates will be able to ask plenty of questions on relevant issues and receive guidance that can readily be put into practice.

We’ll come to you wherever you’re based – UK or overseas

Training sessionVerner Wheelock trainers are based nationwide, so we can always find the most suitable trainer for the subject within your area. You can also rest assured that all our trainers have previous hands-on food industry experience, so understand your industry inside-out.

So if you have five or more staff to train, it’s certainly worth enquiring about in-house courses. Claire will be happy to give you more details and provide a quotation.  Or you can find out more here.

As a produce grower or food processor, the chances are that your company will have undergone several third-party audits, often by BRC auditors or by the major retailers that you supply.  An audit is an inspection or examination of a process or system to ensure compliance with requirements.  It can apply to a specific process or can apply to nationally recognised standards.  An Ethical Audit assesses a company’s systems, its documentation and facilities against the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code, as well as local laws.

There have been numerous news reports about (often migrant) workers being treated unfairly by employers.  These are typically in clothing sweatshops, pick and pack organisations and factories with staff supplied by unscrupulous agencies or gang masters.  For obvious reasons retailers do not want to be associated with such activities.  Therefore, auditing each stage of their supply chain is a way of ensuring their suppliers are complying with ethical trading standards and fair employment practices.

What is covered in an Ethical Audit?

The ETI Base Code is designed to help protect workers from poor and unsafe working conditions, overwork, discrimination, low pay and forced working conditions.  It is founded on the conventions of the International Labour Organisation.  It is an internationally recognised code of labour practice.

So it is these main areas that interest the ethical auditor:

  • Wages
  • Working hours
  • Health & Safety
  • Temporary workers
  • Right to Work
  • Provision of breaks and rest days
  • Fair treatment of staff

Workers should be able to choose their employment

Employers need to make sure that their own employees and those of their suppliers are not being forced to work against their will.

Workers should be free to associate with others and bargain collectively

Essentially this means that workers should be able to air their views and opinions to managers without fear of reprisal or discrimination.  They should be allowed to join trade unions or stand for election onto a Works Council.

Workers should have safe and hygienic working conditions

Even a company that thinks it treats its workers well can come unstuck with Health & Safety.  It has the greatest number of non-conformances of all.  Aspects such as not having regular fire drills, blocking emergency exits, and lack of trained first aiders are commonplace.  Other common faults include lack of risk assessments for hazardous equipment and noise, or a lack of suitable Personal Protective Equipment.  If the toilet facilities are unsatisfactory or clean drinking water isn’t readily available employers will also be pulled up.

Child labour should not be used

Cases of child labour in the UK are extremely rare.  Nevertheless always check ID for verification of the age of young workers.  There are restrictions on rest breaks and the number of hours that can be worked by those under 18 in the UK.

Workers should earn a living wage

This is a big one.  Everyone is entitled to earn the National Minimum Wage.  It makes no difference whether you are paid weekly, monthly, by cheque in cash or any other way.  It doesn’t matter whether you work full-time, part time or any other working pattern.  Or whether you work at your employer’s own premises or elsewhere.  Neither does it matter what size your employer is, or where you work in the UK.

The National Minimum Wage is reviewed every year. From April 2018 it will be:

  • £7.38 per hour for those aged 21 and over
  • £5.90 per hour for 18 to 20-year-olds
  • £4.20 per hour for under 18s

Anyone aged 25 and over should not receive less than the National Living Wage rate of £7.83 per hour.

clockWorking hours must not be excessive

Studies show that when staff are required to work long hours for extensive periods of time without sufficient breaks, it is detrimental to their health and wellbeing.  Tired workers are less productive,  They are also liable to make more mistakes.  Consequently it is also in the employer’s interests to ensure that their employees have acceptable working hours.

This means that contracted working hours should not exceed 48 hours per week.

Total hours worked in any 7-day period should not exceed 60 hours unless in exceptional (unexpected) circumstances.

The 60 hours can be made up of normal hours and overtime.  So, if a worker’s contracted hours are 30 per week and they work an extra 30 hours, that extra work must be paid at ‘overtime rate’.  The ETI recommends that overtime premiums are at least 25% higher than the regular wage.

Employers also need to be responsible in asking workers to carry out overtime. This should not be on a regular basis. The employee should also have the right to say ‘no’, and overtime should not be required by contract.

Workers should also have at least one day (24 consecutive hours) off every 7 days, or two days off in 14.

Regular employment should be provided

All staff should have contracts and these should be held on file. It is not acceptable to send agency staff home on arrival at work if they are not required.  It’s recommended that companies using agency workers should have a minimum pay policy in place (e.g. 4 hours).  Thanks to the Agency Workers’ Directive Regulations, after 12 weeks’ continuous work in the same job, agency workers have the same basic working rights as permanent staff in the same role.

There must not be discrimination of any kind

Companies need to provide fair access to jobs.  That means no discrimination based on race, caste, national origin, gender, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation or union membership.  This extends to all aspects of the job – recruitment, access to training, compensation, promotion, termination or retirement.

Don’t allow  harsh or inhumane treatment

Employers and workers should not tolerate physical and verbal abuse or intimidation.  Neither should anyone put up with physical disciplining of staff, sexual  harassment or such things as refusing staff requests to use the toilet when on a shift.  There need to be systems in place for workers to report any harsh or unacceptable treatment.

Why do you need an ethical audit?

The most likely reason is that it may be a contractual requirement from your customer(s) to undergo regular ethical audits.  Some retailers insist that new suppliers have ethical audit before they can start a supply contract.  In addition, from a moral perspective nobody wants to be seen to be treating others unfairly.  those companies who are not required by their customers to have an ethical audit can still join Sedex and have an audit if they wish, and this demonstrates good practice.

The audit reports from SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trading Audit) Ethical Audits are shared on the Sedex platform so this provides a transparent system for sharing ethical audit results with customers.

All in all, it gives you peace of mind and is good for business, whether you happen to be a customer or supplier.

Where can I find out more about Ethical Audits?

To find out more about ethical audits and how to go about arranging one for your company, please visit the Ethical Trading section of our website.

Excellence Awards winners announced

So, the time has finally come. After much ‘deliberating, cogitating and digesting’ (as Lloyd Grossman used to say on Masterchef), we have pleasure in revealing the winners of the 3rd Verner Wheelock Excellence Awards. They have been chosen from nominations by our course tutors and as ever it has been a very difficult decision to make.

Awards recognise excellence

trainingThe Awards recognise the hard work, enthusiasm and flair of our delegates and their respective companies. All individual winners attended our classroom-based courses here in Skipton during 2017. All have achieved outstanding grades in advanced level exams.

There were  5 awards up for grabs: HACCP, Food Safety, Auditing, Company Excellence and Individual Excellence.

So, without further ado, the winners of the 2017 Verner Wheelock Excellence Awards are:

Verner Wheelock Excellence AwardsHACCP Student of the Year – Nattakan Pinyopat, Warburtons

Food Safety Student of the Year – Kerrie Borthwick, Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd

Auditing Student of the Year – Julie Ryan, CSM Bakeries

Individual Excellence Award – Brandon Green, Ornua Ingredients

Company Excellence Award – Shepherds Purse Cheeses


As well as receiving a trophy, the winners also get a voucher for £250 against any future classroom or in-house training with Verner Wheelock. The winner of the Company Excellence Award receives a voucher for £500.

Previous  winners have included delegates from PAS Grantham, F Smales & Sons, Symingtons, pladis and Harper Green School. Also Bakkavor Desserts, Taylors of Harrogate, New Ivory and Sykes House Farm.

Verner Wheelock MD, Alison Wheelock said, “There are always certain people  attending our courses who stand out as being exceptional. The Verner Wheelock Excellence Awards are a great way of recognising these talents. Our delegates continue to achieve excellent examination results and we’re very fortunate that we have  longstanding relationships with so many companies within this industry. Huge congratulations to all our winners! “

We will be posting pictures of the winners with their awards in the next few weeks, so watch this space!