Part of Thermo Fisher Scientific
04 April 2003
SOUTHERN SALADS’ SENIOR MICROBIOLOGIST WINS OXOID AWARD
Dedication above and beyond the call of duty has brought its just rewards for Mark Hayes, Senior Microbiologist at Southern Salads of Tonbridge , who is to receive the Oxoid Technician of the Year Award. The Oxoid Award Scheme - staged in conjunction with International Food Hygiene - is designed to reward individuals, laboratories and companies whose activities are making a real difference to quality standards in the food industry. Mark’s breadth of knowledge combined with his highly proactive approach to the implementation of quality systems, risk assessment procedures and GMP training at Southern Salads greatly impressed the Award judges, who had no hesitation in selecting him for the scheme’s most prestigious prize.
Mark’s prize is £1,000 in cash plus a trip to the 2003 International Association of Food Protection Meeting in New Orleans. He will also receive an engraved trophy at a special Oxoid Awards ceremony in June.
Southern Salads has also been awarded Second Prize in the Laboratory of the Year award category for what the judges described as its “holistic approach to safety and hygiene”, building on the Highly Commended ranking it attained last year.
“The amount of work we have put into improving the quality of our products has obviously paid off”, says Mark, who heads up the in-house pathogen testing facility at Southern Salads, which was both established and accredited in 2001. “When I heard that I had won the Technician of the Year Award I was stunned - in fact, I had to get Oxoid to inform my technical manager because I was absolutely speechless! The news came through on our busiest day of the week, so I couldn’t just stop what I was doing - but it took the best part of the day for it to sink in!”
“The rest of my team were thrilled, too”, he continues. “We all strive to achieve continuous improvements, so coming second in the Laboratory of the Year category on top of being Highly Commended last time proves that we are succeeding.”
The achievements described in Mark’s Award entry submission are impressively wide-ranging. He has introduced a positive release system for sensory evaluation of Southern Salads’ products which has dramatically reduced the number of complaints received from customers. Arriving at the factory before 5.30am each day, he carries out stringent ATP hygiene swab procedures on factory equipment following a system which he has implemented, and which has proved to be more effective and economical than any method previously used. When he is not busy producing reports for customers or carrying out microbiological risk assessments on new pieces of equipment, Mark is in the factory monitoring production to ensure that staff maintain GMP . His services and knowledge are often called upon during CIEH Foundation Food Hygiene training for factory staff (many of whom do not have English as a first language), and he also advises suppliers on ways to reduce the bacterial load on the raw materials which they deliver.
“ I’d like to thank the management at Southern Salads for their help and support which enabled me to win this award” , concludes Mark. “I am particularly looking forward to going to New Orleans, as I have never been to the United States before. There are bound to be many interesting items on the International Association for Food Protection Meeting agenda, and I am sure I shall bring back plenty of useful information.”