Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Improve helps boost South Africa's food safety manufacturing
Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 38, Issue 4.
Leading food safety experts from the UK have visited South Africa to offer advice to food and drink employers ahead of the 2010 Football World Cup, which the country is set to host.
Derek Williams, development director at food and drink sector skills council Improve, was part of an International Agri-Technology Centre delegation invited to help South Africa's food and drink industry build capacity and performance before the influx of tourists expected in 2010.
“The invitation recognised the UK's position as a world leader on food safety policy and practice”, explained Derek. “Although the visit was focused on preparing for the World Cup, it was also designed to offer general advice on how the country's huge food and drink export industry can meet European food safety standards”.
The five-day trip was centred around a major seminar in Cape Town, at which Derek promoted the UK's approach to training and development in food safety. It highlighted the fact that skills needs must dictate qualifications and training, rather than the other way round.
Here in the UK, this has been made possible through the work Improve has done with employers and training providers to develop National Occupational Standards, and to reform qualifications, all in response to sector needs. The growing reputation of Improve as experts in the development of fit-for-purpose training in food safety secured Derek's place in the delegation. He was joined by Derek Pickles from Hamilton Grant, who offered advice about the preparation of specifications for national and international food trade, and Professor Philip Richardson, head of food manufacturing technology at Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association.
Professor Richardson provided guidance on effective food safety management and safe product innovation, as he explained: “Assurance of food safety is at the heart of the management of effective food supply chains. The chains must be integrated from agricultural raw material production through production to retail and the consumer. A key element of this is the implementation of effective quality management systems that support the delivery of high-quality safe products for both the national and export markets”.
During the remainder of the trip, the delegation met representatives from government departments and public bodies concerned with training and development in food and drink processing. The party visited Mantelli's Bakery in Westlake, a suburb of Cape Town, to talk directly to bosses about food safety in practice.
A meeting also took place with Food Bev Sectoral Education and Training Authority, a body that is best equivalent to Improve in South Africa. “It was helpful to compare the solutions that each organisation has developed in response to the differing skills needs in the two countries”, said Derek. “I'm confident we will continue to work together, learning from each other's experience and sharing good practice, especially in standards development”.
The visit was organised by the International Agri-Technology Centre, with involvement from the British High Commission South Africa and UK Trade and Investment.
Improve is one of 25 sector skills councils established by the government to take the lead in driving up skills in the workplace in order to promote higher productivity and stronger competitiveness for UK businesses in the global market. Funded primarily by the government, sector skills councils are also supported by employers in their sectors, whose needs they represent when stimulating change among the providers of education and skills. Sector skills councils work closely with employers to promote greater commitment to improving skills in their workforces, and with schools, colleges, universities, and private training organisations to improve the provision of basic skills training and to make vocational and occupational training more relevant to the modern commercial climate.
Improve, the food and drink sector skills council www.improveltd.co.uk