How to be really confident that your food safety systems are right and have legal…
As promised, here is the Simply Safer story of working with one of our favourite butchers… Smiths’ Butchers in Eastleigh near Southampton.
I first met siblings Pip and Donna when I was an enforcement officer and I inspected their Dad’s (lovely Les) butchers shop. We spent a lot of time discussing their HACCP (paperwork). There was nothing wrong with it, but they were not happy with it and I could see areas where it could have been improved. However, as an enforcement officer you can only advise businesses you cannot do it for them. What they were doing in the shop was good, but as with so many food businesses, the paperwork side of things can cause a lot of headaches and take time away from the core elements of the business.
Pink Burgers LTTC
I have been told since, that HACCP is the only thing the siblings have really disagreed over. Any EHO’s who might be reading this – it causes a lot of stress. Fast forward to 2017 and I got a call from Pip asking for help to write their HACCP. Things had moved on considerably for the family. They had been approached by a restaurant chain to produce burgers to be served less then thoroughly cooked, i.e. ‘Pink burgers’ The fuss about pink burgers had been bugging me for a while. I fully appreciate the seriousness of getting this wrong and the risk of STEC, but pink burgers were not going away, so what we as a profession needed to do was work out how it could be achieved safely. The danger of refusing to allow pink burgers is and was that chefs were learning to give the correct answers to both EHO’s and customers. Do you do pink burgers? Yes sir (to the customer). No (to the EHO).
Anyway, back to Pip the Butcher
When I first started working for him, there was no requirement to ‘be approved’ to supply less than thoroughly cooked burgers. However, as a result of the growth of the restaurant chain, the family now had two butcher shops. The second shop was where the burgers were produced. Pip and Donna are very knowledgeable and capable butchers and already had brilliant procedures. But due to the fact the restaurant business was now a chain with restaurants across the county boarder, Pip needed to apply to be an approved premises under EU 853/2004 regulation (sorry if you are a non-EHO reading this, if not knowing kills you, message me and I shall explain – lockdown learning- J). During this process, the rules changed and anyone supplying burgers that were intended to be less then thoroughly cooked burgers ( LTTC, pink), needed to be approved for this. The biggest difficulty was the communication with the local authority. This was not the fault of the individual Environmental Health professionals in the team, but as a result of local government austerity measures.
Approved to supply LTTC burgers
But we did it! Smith’s Family butchers were one of the first five businesses in the UK to be approved to supply LTTC burgers. As business grew, Pip and the family moved into a new unit. New approval granted. It is amazing what has been achieved by the Smith Family.
I think they are amazing and I love every minute I am lucky enough to work with them and be part of their team. All of them work so hard, Les is still very involved and all of their team are such lovely people. Oh and I forgot to mention, they also own a local bakery – “The Oven Door Bakery” of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke. So Smith’s Family Butchers also includes Smith’s Family Bakery. They produce excellent food to an excellent standard. They are a business that always wants to do the right thing for the right reasons and this is why I work with them.