UCW students learn from the pros in food safety exercises

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 University Centre Weston (UCW) students have gained professional practice by undertaking food hygiene audits with safety advisors from NSF International.

The students, from the degrees at UCW in Public and Environmental Health and Environmental Health and Practice, shadowed professionals from NSF – a global public health and safety organisation – for the exercise.

Utilising UCW’s training kitchens for hospitality and catering students, which have been awarded a food hygiene rating of 5, the students and safety advisors undertook audits on a number of mock scenarios.

Lindsey Holmes, the South West Team Leader for NSF International who graduated from UCW in 2016, explained: “Cross contamination risks and pest issues were prepared before the students and safety advisors arrived so they could think of the potential issues that could, firstly, be present in a food handling business and, secondly, the affect this could have on an overall food hygiene rating.

“I placed plastic insects underneath equipment for the advisors to identify and score accordingly, and cross contamination risks such as cleaning chemicals and medicine were also present in the kitchen.

“Exercises like these provide students and professionals with the chance to work together towards a common goal, which is attaining consistency when out in the field.”

The safety advisors from NSF International came from as far afield as Andover and Portsmouth to take part in the exercise, which culminated in a group discussion about how the professionals rated the kitchen.

David Lown, UCW’s Curriculum Coordinator for Public and Environmental Health, said: “Our courses are all about preparing students to become environmental health officers, so we are really grateful to Lindsey and NSF International for visiting UCW and showing us how the experts work.

“Gaining experience of undertaking private sector audits can be difficult in a real business, so we are fortunate to have our own commercial kitchens here at UCW.”

This is the second year in a row that NSF International has taken part in the food safety exercises, and the company’s commitment to students’ professional development has been recognised by it being shortlisted for the Work Placement Provider of the Year prize in the upcoming UCW Awards.

The degrees in Public and Environmental Health and Environmental Health and Practice at UCW are delivered in partnership with UWE Bristol.