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Are you ready for Natasha’s Law?

Natasha's Law pre-packed for direct sale food

Many people will remember the unfortunate story of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse; the teenager who died following an allergic reaction to a sandwich containing sesame. The sandwich was pre-packed but did not contain an ingredients label or allergy messaging. This type of labelling was not mandatory at the time but, following her death, her parents strived to get the law changed, so that others with food allergies have confidence in the foods they buy and do not suffer the same fate.

As a result of their campaigning, The UK Food Information Amendment 2019 (or Natasha’s Law, as it is commonly known) comes into force on 1st October 2021. This means that all food that is pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) will have to carry labelling stating the name of the product and a full ingredients list with allergens highlighted.

New Natasha’s Law online course

To help businesses understand the requirements of the new law and to whom it applies, we are launching an online Natasha’s Law course in September. This will cover the following:

  • What is Natasha’s Law?
  • Background information about allergens
  • Labelling controls for the 14 allergens recognised by law
  • The different ways food can be packaged and presented to the consumer
  • Definition of Pre-packed for Direct Sale Food
  • Using the Pre-packed for Direct Sale decision tree
  • The requirements for businesses to comply with the new legislation

The course is video-based and is presented by an experienced food allergens trainer with many years’ food industry experience. It features a blend of video, interactive assessments and fact-checking throughout to ensure the retention of information. There are no entry requirements, but a basic knowledge of food safety would be beneficial.

Who will the new law apply to?

Our Natasha’s Law course will appeal to bakers and confectioners, farm shop staff, butchers, cafes, sandwich shops, stallholders, charity event organisers, mobile caterers, small retailers and any other businesses packaging and selling food from the same premises. We will be notifying all our customers once the course has launched, but in the meantime if you would like to register your interest, please contact Claire Lennon on 01756 700802 or email claire.lennon@vwa.co.uk

Pet food flavour and aroma, just as important as in our food


Did you know that there are an estimated 51 million pets in the UK? From Great Danes to Goldfish, we Brits truly are a nation of pet lovers. As any pet owner will know, certain animals – especially cats – can be quite fussy eaters. Getting the right texture, flavour, appearance and aroma is therefore as important to pet food manufacturers as it is for those producing food for humans.

Feeding fussy felines

The UK’s most popular pets are cats and dogs. Whilst there are some vegetarian foods available on the market, they are essentially carnivores. In addition, cats apparently aren’t considered to be able to taste sweetness in carbohydrates, so the focus on meat and savoury flavours  in pet foods is important. We’ve all seen cats take one sniff of some food, turn their noses up and walk away. So how can we encourage them to accept and enjoy the food we are offering?

cat eating

Unsurprisingly it’s all about taste. As humans there are certain foods that we consider delicious or ‘moreish’. More often than not it’s foods that are said to have the ‘umami’ taste. Umami is an invented word, created by Dr Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University in 1908. Its meaning, roughly translated from the Japanese, is ‘yummy deliciousness’ or ‘a pleasant savoury taste.’ It’s neither sweet, salt, sour or bitter.

Umami taste is pleasant to pets

pet food

Fussy felines and other meat-eating pets are  also particularly attracted to the umami taste. It’s present in products like parmesan cheese, but can be created by cooking meat. The aroma of a steak frying or a burger being grilled might even make you salivate. This is because amino acids are released during the cooking process which makes it smell and taste great. It’s known as the Maillard reaction.

Of course, most pets aren’t fed on steak and burgers. Pet food is generally manufactured from surplus products from the human food chain. The bits we don’t fancy eating, such as chicken feet, udders, brains etc. are still very nutritious. However the challenge is to make these pieces of meat palatable. That’s the job of the flavourist.

Flavours course is  ideal for pet food manufacturers

One of the most well-known and respected flavour chemists is Professor David Baines. He has worked to develop flavours with food and ingredients companies all over the world. Together with flavour application specialist Mr Richard Seal, he tutors a specialist flavours course for us here at Verner Wheelock. Entitled Creating Thermal Process Flavours, it is the only course of its kind in the UK to focus mainly on savoury flavours, and this year runs from 29th October to 2nd November in Skipton, North Yorkshire.

The reason I’m mentioning Professor Baines in a blog post about pet food is that he has considerable knowledge in this area. In fact, one of his very first roles was developing savoury flavours in cat and dog foods. As well as attracting flavourists from snack foods, ingredients and convenience food companies, the course has also proved very beneficial to pet food manufacturers.

About Creating Thermal Process Flavours

Creating Thermal Process Flavours  gives flavourists a chance to step outside their normal daily activities and really focus on the components and construction of a savoury flavour, and now also covers sweet brown flavours such as caramel and chocolate. It’s lab-based, so delegates undertake experiments with process reaction flavours, enzyme modified flavours and topnotes. These are combined with in-depth lectures and application and evaluation of their creations. Delegates leave with a toolkit to enable them to recreate the flavours in their own working environment.

Food safety and HACCP applies to pet food manufacturers too


Pet food not only needs to be tasty, it also needs to be produced safely. You may not be aware of this, but there are more than 50 items of legislation covering pet food manufacture. There are strict rules governing the ingredients that can be used in pet food. For instance, the levels of pesticides in cereals and residue levels of veterinary products in animal products must be monitored. Also, the EU Feed Hygiene Regulations cover food safety and hygiene, HACCP, storage, personnel, facilities and record-keeping.

Since the methods by which pet food is produced are similar to other food manufacture many of the same rules apply. Personnel still require food safety and HACCP training and need to be ready for audits. Please see our latest training calendar for details of these and other courses we are running throughout the year. Alternatively, why not enquire about our in-house training courses?

Special HACCP course for pet food manufacturers

Did you know that there is an RSPH Level 3 HACCP qualification specifically for animal feed manufacture? If this is of interest to you, please get in touch by emailing claire.lennon@vwa.co.uk  

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!

Need to get up to speed with VACCP and TACCP? #vernerwheelock

FB_HeaderAs food industry experts we have developed a range of courses to provide you with specialist knowledge relevant to your role within the food industry.

Following the publication of10% the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 7, we are running workshops to get you up to speed with some of the requirements such as VACCP and TACCP.

Book any Specialist course listed below by 31st March and receive 10% discount*

23 March Managing Food Allergens 
13 April BRC 7 Update 
13 April VACCP Workshop
14 April TACCP Workshop
18-19 & 25 April CIEH Training Principles and Practice *FULL*
7 June VACCP Workshop
8 June TACCP Workshop
23 June Root Cause Analysis 
13-14 & 20 July CIEH Training Principles and Practice
28 September Level 4 Food Safety Update 
24-28 October Creating Thermal Process Flavours *UPDATED COURSE*
21 November Training Skills Refresher

In House Training

For those wishing to train five or more staff at one time, our in-house courses that take place at your site can be the most cost effective and convenient option.

All you need to do is set the time and place, provide a suitable room and refreshments, and put together the delegate list and we do the rest!
Contact Claire and Karen for a quote 01756 700802.

*Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and is for Skipton run courses only.

What’s the difference between HACCP, TACCP, and VACCP?


They all sound very similar and all are involved in the safety of the food we manufacture, but what exactly is the difference between HACCP, TACCP and VACCP?

HACCP – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point

HACCP, as many of you will know, was initially developed in the 1960s by NASA to prevent astronauts from contracting food poisoning in space. It has since been refined and is now part of every major food manufacturer/supplier’s day-to-day routine. It stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points and can be approached either by product or process.

The HACCP team evaluates the entire production process step by step from delivery intake to packaging and transport of the completed product. During this process any stages where the product could be subject to physical, microbiological or chemical contamination are identified. Measures are put in place for those deemed critical (i.e. metal detectors, temperature controls, cleaning etc.) and these are regularly monitored to ensure that the end product is safe for human consumption.

Verner Wheelock offers a range of HACCP courses from Level 2 to advanced Level 4

TACCP – Threat Assessment Critical Control Point

Relatively new, TACCP, by comparison stands for Threat Assessment Critical Control Point. An essential part of food safety management and required under the latest BRC version 7 Global Standard, it was developed in reaction to the increase in food fraud detected in recent years. The most widely reported was, of course, the horsemeat scandal but food fraud manifests itself in a variety of different ways.

Whereas HACCP is concerned with the prevention of food-borne illnesses and the prevention of unintentional or accidental hazards/threats to food safety, TACCP is concerned with the prevention of deliberate and intentional food fraud. This can take the form of substitution of ingredients, passing off of one foodstuff for another, false or misleading statements  for economic gain that could impact public health, product tampering, fake or incorrect labelling etc. Product traceability throughout the supply chain is hence of vital importance.

VACCP – Vulnerability Assessment and Critical Control Points

TACCP and VACCP go hand in hand in the quest to demonstrate product authenticity. Both are designed to prevent the intentional adulteration of food. TACCP identifies the threat of behaviourally or economically-motivated adulteration; VACCP identifies how vulnerable various points in the supply chain are to the threat of economically-motivated adulteration. Again, the assessment of vulnerability is required to satisfy requirements of BRCv7.

We have already run an in-house VACCP course for manufacturers and this April sees the first of our open courses on the subject.  You can find out more about the course content here, but essentially it has been designed to give learners the knowledge and skills to conduct a Raw Material Vulnerability Assessment on their supply chain to protect against the risk of fraud. The course will take you through methodology to achieve this, to identify types of fraud that might occur in the supply chain, assess vulnerabilities and establish appropriate preventative measures.

The next VACCP course takes place on 13th April 2016. Places are being filled quickly, so book early to avoid disappointment. Don’t forget that if you have 5 or more people to train, it’s often economical and more convenient to book an in-house course at your own premises – call Claire or Karen to find our more on 01756 700802.