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ML3 Technical Blog

Food safety news and guidance
3 minutes reading time (597 words)

From lab to quality systems......how I got here.

From an early age I found food and science engaging subjects, and it came as no surprise in future years to find myself involved in the technical side of food production.

Beginning my journey working in food laboratories, my role was to test milk for brucellosis, progressing onto testing heat resistance of bacteria to cooking processes and then onto the DNA finger printing of bacteria. Whilst in the lab, we had a commonly used phrase - "that's a commercial decision".

After joining a food factory, I soon had to learn, that that commercial decision was now mine to make and the decision could have far reaching consequences. Losses to reputation, staff morale and the business bottom line could all be at stake due to the choices made. After 5 years working within a dairy factory, I left for a brief stint selling hygiene chemicals to dairy farmer - whilst some may say it is easier to sell ice to an Inuit, I learnt a lot about selling (or not selling) and the way to treat customers. The importance of listening to all involved in the process is a skill that's faired me well in future roles, hearing each person's view from those in the fields, to the major commercial buyers gives you a wonderful insight into each person's role, capabilities and needs within all business areas.

I moved into Technical Services Manager role for a sausage factory, fulfilling my love of detail, here I learnt about legislation, dealing with retailers and the joys of putting quality systems in place. When an opportunity to move to being a Technical Manager in a fresh vegetable company came about I plunged in head first, we implemented through systems and had a BRC audit within 6 weeks of being in my new role - we passed!

My knowledge of vegetables was limited at that stage - "don't you just put a potato in the ground and dig it up in 6 months time". How little I knew, but I soon started to learn more about the vegetable industry in general and worked with a number of growers to increase my understanding. Through this fuller knowledge I became involved in auditing farms to the M&S Field to Fork Standard. In this role it became apparent to me, that whilst the growers knew how to grow veg; meeting a retailer standard and the due diligence paperwork it involves was a large step for most.

I wanted to relieve the growers of this stress so they could concentrate on their business and future growth, so came up with the plan to implement a bespoke Quality System for each grower, which would help them achieve the various standards whether it was Red Tractor Farm Assurance, Marks & Spencers Select Grower, Tesco Nurture or GlobalGap. Since starting ML3Technical over 6 years ago, I have continued to develop and continually improve the systems I offer.

Whilst my main focus is on vegetable growers, pack-houses and processors, I also work with a number of smaller businesses (particularly chutney, pickle and sauce manufacturers) to implement the SALSA standard. I am now starting to offer remote assistance as a new way of giving support to smaller companies. This will allow them the advantages of getting the paperwork to gain certification to a recognised standard and ongoing technical support via the wonders of modern digital technology, without having to employee a full time technical manager.

For more information on how I can help your business, whether you are large or small, involved in vegetables or something else, please get in touch. 

Well so much for a quite life.
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Sunday, 21 July 2019
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