Case Study: Training at Pinney’s of Scotland


Salmon smokers and seafood processors, Pinneys of Scotland, are one of the key suppliers of chilled foods to Marks & Spencer. Combining traditional and highly modern processing skills in wet fish, curing, smoking, poaching, recipe dishes, shellfish & fish deli, they are the largest private sector employer in Dumfries and Galloway.

Central to Pinney’s success is a desire for excellence in both product and process. There is a culture of continuous improvement throughout the company. This means that they are constantly seeking new, innovative product ideas as well as ways of working efficiently, reducing waste and ensuring that product lines are produced in a safe and hygienic manner.

Courses delivered by Verner Wheelock

Pinney’s invest in comprehensive training programmes for all their staff to ensure all the food they prepare is safe and that food safety management systems  are implemented and operate  effectively. Employees have undertaken a variety of in-house and open training courses in Auditing, HACCP and Food Safety at differing levels.

Training provided by Verner Wheelock has ensured that all relevant staff understand HACCP, food safety and auditing issues and the importance of following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in order to meet customer and BRC standards.

Training outcomes

Smoked SalmonPinney’s are subject to an annual BRC Audit as well as audits by Marks & Spencer to ensure that they comply with their own supplier standards. The combination of the auditing training undertaken with Verner Wheelock and Pinney’s positive food safety culture gained them an A+ grade (the best possible) at this year’s unannounced BRC audit, an improvement on the previous result, and ensured that they completed successful M&S audits.

In addition, three Pinney’s staff were awarded Distinction grades for outstanding performance in their FDQ Auditing Skills exams. For the RSPH Level 3 Food Safety qualifications seven delegates were also awarded Distinctions.

The training programme has not only up-skilled the staff, it has resulted in greater efficiency and productivity since there is less wastage as a result of the implementation of SOPs and better understanding of HACCP and food safety. It has also made staff more proactive in identifying areas for improvement and confident in helping to implement changes where necessary.

The Pinney’s training was deemed so successful that similar training with Verner Wheelock was also undertaken at sister company Young’s Seafood ,where around 50 staff have been trained in a range of subjects including Auditing, Root Cause Analysis, HACCP and Food Safety.

Reasons for choosing Verner Wheelock

Pinney’s chose Verner Wheelock to provide training because they found them to be competitively priced and had used them on previous occasions. They believe that the quality of the trainers is superb. Verner Wheelock trainers have prior industry experience and understanding, so are able to tailor courses specifically to the seafood industry and Pinney’s in particular. The interactive nature of the courses, with workshops and group exercises, give staff the opportunity to ask questions; gain a greater understanding of their role in the production of safe food; and apply their new-found skills to the working environment. Staff enjoy Verner Wheelock’s courses and are keen to progress to the next level.

Liz Soutar, Training Co-ordinator with Pinney’s said: “Verner Wheelock always deliver training to the highest standard. We have used them for a number of years and are happy to recommend them to others, which we have done. Their trainers are knowledgeable and deliver courses which engage all those in attendance. All the delegates praise the trainers, we have never had one single negative report form all the courses we have done.”

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