Why the latest healthy eating initiative won’t work – Dr Wheelock’s views

Dr Verner WheelockOur Chairman and founder, Dr Verner Wheelock, has been researching healthy eating and the effect of diet on illness and mortality for several years. He has come to the conclusion that, contrary to Government health guidelines, which advocate a low-fat diet as being beneficial to health, a diet low in carbohydrates and containing fat is the way to lose weight and improve health outcomes.

Last week the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) announced a ‘Healthy Eating’ strategy, which already has the buy-in of major retailers such as ASDA and Tesco. This is based on tackling the amount of sugar in foods and ‘calories in/ calories out.’

You can read the full article here.

This is Verner’s response:

“Here we go again with a huge initiative to tackle the so-called obesity. I can guarantee that it will not work because it is based on the “Calories In Calories Out” principle which has been totally discredited. For a start there are millions of people who have tried it and failed. Even the relatively few who succeed invariably re-gain the weight lost and frequently end up even heavier than they were at the outset.”

All calories are not equal

“One of the basic assumptions is that all calories are equal whether they originate from fat, protein or carbohydrates. This is rubbish. There is an enormous difference between the way the body handles a diet low carb/high fat(LCHF) diet compared with one which is high carb/low fat (HCLF). A diet which is high carb causes lots of insulin to be produced that directs the glucose (produced from the carbs) to the liver which converts it into fat which is then stored. Slimming diets are usually low in fat (because fat is concentrated calories) and therefore high in carbs. So using this approach is like pushing water uphill. It is almost certain to fail. The only way to make it work is to starve, which explains why the weight is re-gained. The excessive insulin is also bad news because it eventually causes insulin resistance which is the precursor to weight gain, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease to mention a few.

By contrast, fat does not stimulate the production of any insulin. So the way to improve health, including the loss of some excess weight is to replace the sugar and all types of carbs with fat. However the ideal fat is the saturated fat, which is present in foods such as dairy and meat products. Unfortunately the Government is still telling us that the sat fats are bad, despite the fact that many recent studies have confirmed that there is no justification for this advice.”

Swedes’ obesity levels have dropped yet they consume more fat

“It is highly relevant that in Sweden where demand for butter has increased to such an extent that there have been shortages, the rise in obesity has been halted.  There are even signs that the incidence is now falling.  There is now overwhelming scientific evidence that it is the increased consumption of sugar and other carb-rich foods including potatoes, rice, pasta, flour, bread and grains which are responsible for much of the poor standards of public health as shown by the incidence of obesity and even more worrying the continued rise in Type 2 diabetes.

So if we are to progress then it is essential to forget about the calories and focus on the sugar/carbs. But this depends on increasing the consumption of sat fat. Until this is accepted by both the food industry and the Government, it is inevitable that the current efforts are doomed to failure.”

For more articles and insight about alternatives to current dietary guidelines read Verner’s Views at www.vernerwheelock.com

Getting the most out of HACCP training

To keep ahead of the game, it’s always good to check out what’s happening in the trade press and keep up to date with the latest legislation. We also talk to our customers about what issues they are facing and how we can help them.

It’s all about ensuring that we’re providing the best training possible for our delegates. So in our opinion, here are a few pitfalls/pointers that can either improve or mar a customer’s experience of a training course.

Keep non-course specific information as brief as possible

Just to give an example, I attended a course recently (not food related) and the tutor spent 20 minutes telling us all where the safety exits and toilets were and the importance of filling in our answer sheets – something that could have been covered in less than five. The less time spent on this, the more time spent on learning….

Training session

Remember why people are attending the course

Several trainers can fall into the trap of giving too much background information. Yes, it might be interesting and, indeed, a little background information can be useful to set the scene, but don’t waste half of a one-day course going into the history of a subject.

When delegates go on a HACCP course they want to understand what a critical control point is, how to identify it, how to prevent contamination and how to develop their own HACCP plan. So for background for a HACCP course, the simple (and interesting) statement that ‘HACCP was developed for NASA’ should suffice. Then you can get down to the nitty gritty of what it actually is and how to apply it to your own production facility.

Give them examples – but make sure they’re relevant

A good trainer will do research on the company/companies where his delegates work. He’ll also have worked (as all our trainers have) within the food industry itself. This gives him first-hand experience of the challenges facing his trainees. It also means that when he’s providing examples he can ensure that they resonate with his audience. Plus it makes the information easier to understand and specific to the delegate’s own experience of work.

Another point to note is that in the UK we have our own legislation relating to food safety, so make sure that this is covered. Don’t (like one course we attended) give endless examples of what’s happening in the USA under the FSDA. You also need to make sure that any information relating to guidance or regulations is up-to-date.

Encourage questions and interaction

Giving people the chance to ask questions throughout the course and encouraging them to take part in group exercises will enable them to derive greater benefit from the course.  They’ll also swap ideas, advice and experiences with other delegates which they can take away to their own workplace.

Provide printed material

Every delegate on a Verner Wheelock course is provided with a course binder containing printouts of the PowerPoint presentation they are watching. This way they can jot notes alongside, rather than trying to copy down everything on the screen before it disappears.

Stick to the syllabus and give regular recaps

Delegates on Level 3 and 4 courses are required to take and pass an examination in order to receive their certificate. The trainer needs to ensure that she has covered all aspects of the syllabus in the allotted time and also given pointers on how to answer certain types of examination questions.  We’re proud to have an excellent pass rate in examinations. In fact last year our delegates collected 50% of the available RSPH Awards, meaning that they achieved the highest examination marks in the UK!

Get customer feedback

We always ask for feedback at the end of our courses. Not only do we like to be able to pass on positive comments to our trainers, we also want to find out if there is anything that can be improved. If there is a particular area that customers would like to provide more focus on this sometimes leads to the development of a specialist course – like our TACCP course for instance.

For information on all our current courses, please visit www.vwa.co.uk. If you’re already a trainer and want a few tips on how to be more effective, why not consider our Trainer Skills Refresher course?

How cool are your products? – Climate control for the food industry

Expert spotlight: Penmann Climatic Systems

As anyone in food and drink manufacturing will know, temperature control plays a vital role – not only in ensuring its safety, but also in maintaining production flow. Process and product cooling, for example, will minimise health risks, maximise throughput, provide additional shelf-life, aid product consistency and eliminate product rejection.

Britvic2What the average consumer will not realise is that modern food and drink production is not solely concerned with ingredients and processes: Production facilities require a series of effective climate control systems to ensure that the environments in which products are processed meet temperature, airflow and extraction requirements. Moreover, with energy costs on the increase, manufacturers also want to be sure that those systems are working as efficiently as possible. This is where a climatic control specialist is indispensible.

Expert solutions from the industry experts

One of the UK’s leading climatic control companies is Penmann Climatic Systems based in Otley, West Yorkshire. The company delivers turnkey solutions for process cooling, factory air conditioning, ventilation and extraction systems as well as chilled water refrigeration systems. Their knowledge and expertise has provided advice and expert solutions to the food and drink industry for the past 38 years. In fact their impressive list of customers reads like a roll call of some of the biggest names in the business – many of them VWA clients.

Optimum temperatures for product throughput and food safety

“Identifying the optimum temperature and time for product cooling is essential,” says John Kirwin, Penmann’s Commerical Director. “If you cool it too quickly then the end product may not be to specification. Cool it too slowly and you’re left with a production line bottleneck and insufficient space.” To solve this problem, Pennman designed and built their own Mobile Product Test Unit. This unique device can be employed to determine cooling profiles for a broad range of products. “Several companies have improved food safety and productivity by using the mobile unit to produce cooling profiles” adds John. “It’s tested everything from poultry and ready meals to dairy products, sauces and confectionery; and because it’s mobile, it can be used in-situ or off site.”

Muller2As product lines change, so too can climatic requirements. Sometimes existing systems are unable to cool products quickly enough to meet demand. This was the case at a well-known international biscuit manufacturer. To cater for the increased throughput, Penmann designed, supplied and project managed a 30 metre extension to the existing line comprising a direct expansion cold deck with a contra flow air cooled cover. The existing refrigeration plant and controls were all replaced and a menu-based control system was provided to enable easy selection of alternative parameters for different product types.

Taking care of high care requirements

When we think about contamination and cross-contamination of products, it’s often personal hygiene, cleaning products, cooking temperatures, physical contamination, pests and storage that readily spring to mind. However risk also extends to other sources, such as condensation and inadequate air pressure. Additionally, manufacturers need to ensure that products which must be cooled prior to packaging and storage have cooling profiles which meet food hygiene standards.

High care production areas i.e. areas where chilled foods particularly vulnerable to microbiological contamination are handled need specialist air pressure control. Penmann have considerable experience in providing solutions which consider all elements of a process, including requirements for Cleaning in Place (CIP) on certain lines whilst maintaining production on others. A good example of this is work undertaken at a dairy product filling area which used a 100% fresh air system filtered to H10 standard to minimise contamination risks from yeasts or moulds. Penmann designed and installed an energy efficient displacement air distribution system. This reduced the air volume to 65% of that of a conventional mixing system. The addition of an enthalpy wheel to assist with cooling meant that the refrigerant plant size was halved.

Make sure your cooling systems are working efficiently

In order to tackle issues such as high temperatures, humidity, air quality, energy efficiency and product cooling rates, a comprehensive survey should always be the starting point. The team of professionals at Penmann offer surveys on the following:

Pressurisation survey to ensure the correct positive air pressures are being maintained in High Care Areas and also that the whole factory operates on a positive pressure to prevent egress of contaminants.

Condensation surveys to establish the causes of internal condensation and to design solutions to eliminate any cross contamination risks.

Product cooling surveys to ensure the correct cooling profile is achieved to meet food hygiene standards; but also to establish how cooling times can be improved to prevent bottlenecks and to improve shelf life time.

Energy surveys of existing HVAC systems to see how they can be improved to provide energy savings e.g. convert to displacement air distribution.

Hygiene surveys of existing HVAC systems to ensure they meet current standards and to advise on improvements to reduce hygiene risks.

LEV (Local Extract Ventilation) surveys to ensure systems are performing to HSS.258.

Following the surveys, Penmann will provide you with a detailed report of the findings and make recommendations for practical, efficient solutions, bespoke to your situation. As a ‘one-stop shop’ for consultancy, design, installation and commissioning, they are able to offer real value for money, supplying quality products and services that are delivered on time and within budget.

Products/Services supplied:

  • Process and product cooling
  • Air conditioning
  • Refrigeration
  • Clean rooms

For more information, including case studies, please visit www.penmann.co.uk

Don’t let uninvited guests ruin your audit #pestcontrol

Expert spotlight: Premier Pest Control Services

The discovery of rat droppings, roosting birds or an infestation of flies can spell disaster for companies at an audit. If you’re responsible for the manufacture, processing, packaging or storage of food, pest control should always be high on the agenda. Knowing what, where and how to inspect for unwelcome visitors (and how to remove them permanently) takes the knowledge and experience of a professional pest control contractor.

Premier Pest Control Services was founded by Terry and Chris Cunningham and they and their team  have been giving advice to those operating within the food industry for many years. They are experts in providing fully-compliant pest control service to BRC, EFSIS and SALSA customers and their commitment and attention to detail means that their customers have never had a pest-related non-conformance during an audit.

Pests spread disease via faeces and urine, regurgitated food, body parts and through damage to packaging in storage areas. Due to their nomadic nature they are responsible for the spread of pathogens such as salmonella, E-Coli, toxoplasmosis, listeria, tuberculosis and gastroenteritis. It’s therefore imperative for food safety that pests are kept under control. The level of seriousness attributed to pest control within a company can also mean the difference between being awarded/retaining and losing a valuable contract with a major retailer, as Terry explains:

“Companies can lose £1000s in export orders if, for example, rat droppings are found, so it’s always worth spending time and money to ensure that all bases are covered. Sometimes we’ll visit premises for the first time and will be astonished that employees are not taking even the simplest of measures to keep pests out. Like keeping doors to a production area closed.”

It’s not only production areas that require attention. Chris adds “There have been instances where pigeons have been roosting or nesting in a warehouse where foodstuffs or raw ingredients are being stored. Obviously this has meant considerable mess with the potential of highly toxic droppings permeating the food.”

Here are 8 common pitfalls identified by Premier Pest Control Services on a regular basis:

8 Common Pest Control Pitfalls

1. Not shutting doors – doors to production areas should be secured at all times

2. Leaving windows open – any open windows should be guarded by insect screens

3. Leaving bins uncovered – especially those containing food waste

4. Not cutting back vegetation around the premises – this attracts rodents and insects

5. Putting fly units over food surfaces – if they are too shallow the insects will drop out of the tray

6. Allowing birds to nest under the eaves/roof of a building

7. Holes and gaps in the building fabric – allows insects and rodents access

8. Not cleaning down equipment sufficiently – insects can breed in the smallest of spaces

What can I expect from a professional Pest Control Contractor?

Getting to the source of the infestation and thinking ahead is key to ensuring that your premises pass an audit. Pests can enter food preparation, storage and packaging areas through the tiniest space and once they have gained access they will breed. Insects can fly through the tiniest space in a window or door; mice can squeeze themselves through gaps as small as 7mm.

Premier Pest Control can help you to prepare for your next audit by performing their own inspection of your premises. All members of the team fully understand the food manufacturing process and have food safety qualifications themselves, including HACCP. Importantly they have close contact with BRC auditors and know exactly what they are looking for – not only for BRC V6, but also for Packaging BRC V4 and transport and non-food BRC. They also advise companies undergoing audits by major retailers.

Following the initial visit, your contractor will produce a report of their findings. This will detail current and potential sites of breaches or infestations and their recommendations. As well as producing reports, Premier Pest Control is also able to provide a range of solutions such as:

  • pesticide-free pest control services
  • chemical-free fumigation services
  • electronically targeted hygiene and proofing audits
  • electronic rodent capture with immediate electronic alert
  • and the latest electronic fly killers (including catch tray analysis)

In addition they offer comprehensive silo cleaning and deep cleaning of food equipment and production spaces as well as the supply and fitting of insect screens, PVC curtains and doors, brush strips and other proofing solutions.

Like Verner Wheelock Associates, PPC has a longstanding team of professionals behind a family firm so you can expect a more personal service than you might expect from the larger multinational companies. Moreover the company typically charges 25% less for pest control services. PPC has offices in Bradford, Scarborough and Middlesbrough, but has customers across the UK, from London to Scotland and is a member of the British Pest Control Association.

For more information, please contact Claire Lennon at Verner Wheelock Associates. Tel 01756 700802 or email claire.lennon@vwa.co.uk