Bernie Bradley is currently employed as an Executive Analytical Chemist (Microbiology) in the HSE Public Analyst’s Laboratory (PAL), Dublin. She is an approved examiner in an Official laboratory within the HSE. In addition to routine surveillance and survey work Bernie is responsible for the examination of food complaint samples. This is highly varied work involving microbiological, biological, sensory and microscopical techniques covering a wide range of food types and involving both food safety and quality issues.
Bernie recently took part in the safefood Training & Mobility Funding Programme. In the report below, she tells us about her experience.
Visit Aims & Objectives
I attended a two day course on Thermal processing at the Food Industry and Training Unit in UCC. The aim of the visit was to improve my knowledge in examining food samples with regards to quality and safety which may arise, particularly in thermally processed foods. The knowledge attained can be applied to many different food types and the objective was to improve our expertise in examining food complaint samples.
Purpose & Relevance
The course was very relevant to anyone involved in ensuring the quality and safety of food. It was particularly relevant to our laboratory as we are responsible for ensuring compliance with food safety legislation. Many potential quality and safety issues were discussed and examples provided. This information can then be shared with my colleagues in the laboratory.
I attended a series of lectures and discussions on various aspects of thermal processing over the two days including: quality of raw materials and end products, impact of added ingredients and possible quality/safety issues arising from same, sensory properties of thermally processed dairy foods, effects of long term storage, product stability.
Practical sessions included: demonstration of equipment used for testing physical properties of foods, demonstration of thermal processing techniques in a pilot plant and participation in sensory evaluation of UHT milk at different stages after processing.
Transfer of Knowledge
The course material has been made available to colleagues in the laboratory. The knowledge gained will also be transferred through training of colleagues over time in the examination of food samples.
Added Value & Realised/Anticipated Benefits of Visit:
The course will be of benefit in terms of contacts and information gained from colleagues working in different aspects of the food industry. Additional information was obtained on quality and safety issues associated with long term storage (canned foods, UHT products) not previously encountered by myself which will no doubt prove useful in the future.
Conclusions & Any Recommendations
I found the Training and Mobility Funding Programme very beneficial as it enabled me to attend this very useful course which has enhanced the expertise in the laboratory with regard to safety and quality issues in food samples. I would highly recommend the programme to others as a means of enhancing skills and broadening expertise and well as creating linkages with others involved in food safety and production.