The impact of food safety research on knowledge exchange, food safety practice and economic prosperity in the Welsh food industry
Submitting InstitutionCardiff Metropolitan University
Unit of AssessmentAllied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy
Summary Impact TypeEconomic
Research Subject Area(s)
Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Business and Management
Summary of the impact
This case study is concerned with the impact of our research on small and
medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food industry in Wales.
Specifically, the preliminary impact is about the development of a
Knowledge, Innovation and Technology Exchange (KITE) programme. Set up in
2008, it was based on £3.9 million initial investment from the Welsh
Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Through sustained knowledge exchange via the KITE programme with 31 food
manufacturing businesses in Wales there have been two main types of direct
impact with benefits to end-users. First, there have been improvements to
food production and food safety management systems in many of those
businesses. Second, there has been increased economic prosperity, by March
2013 resulting in £27 million of increased sales, £540k of waste reduction
within processing, and the creation and safeguarding of 1,072 jobs.
[Throughout this Impact Case Study, references to the underpinning
research are numbered 1 to 6; sources to corroborate the impact are
numbered 7 to 16.]
The programme of research that underpins this Impact Case Study has a 20
year history at Cardiff Metropolitan University, most recently delivered
by the Food Industry Centre at the Cardiff School of Health Sciences. Led
initially by Griffith (a Professor who retired in 2009), the other
senior food scientists during the period of the research were Fielding
(appointed in 1993 as a Lecturer) and Peters (appointed in 1995 as
a Senior Lecturer) — both are now Professors. The multi-disciplinary team
of researchers has also included Clayton, a psychologist
(appointed in 2004 as a Research Fellow — now a Senior Lecturer). Research
Assistants, Ellis (2002) and Mortlock (1997-2002) also
made key contributions. The Director of the Food Industry Centre is Lloyd
(appointed in 1997).
The development of the research undertaken is set in context through a
chronological narrative. The empirical studies draw mainly on
questionnaire surveys (1, 2, 5, 6) as well as a quasi-experimental design
to show the effects of an intervention using a sector specific information
resource (3). Based on a decade's research (and more), the other output
(4) is a `position statement' that emphasises the importance of food
safety management systems linked inextricably to organisational food
safety culture — particularly attitudinal constructs associated with
Data for the earliest substantive piece of research that underpins this
case study were gathered in 1997 (5). From the survey responses of 254
food businesses across manufacturing, retail and catering, it was shown
that systems such as the `hazard analysis critical control point' were
being used by significantly more manufacturers than by retailers and
caterers. Perceptions of the level of risk to food safety were more even,
but only half of the sector as a whole thought their business presented a
low risk. These findings had implications for the development of
industry-wide food hygiene practices.
In a linked study using the same data base (6) four different grades of
food handlers were compared. It was shown that there were significant
differences in the methods of training delivery and qualifications held
across all four grades in the same three sectors of the food industry.
Importantly, whilst many managers were positive about training for their
employees, in follow-up interviews they noted concerns about cost, time
and relevance of the training their staff received. Conclusions
highlighted the need to develop training that resulted in behaviour change
in workplace settings and consolidated food hygiene as a fundamental part
of food safety control.
The multi-disciplinarity of the underpinning research was established in
2002 when insights from cognitive psychology shed light on the beliefs and
practices of food handlers (1). The views of 137 food industry
practitioners from 52 SMEs in Wales were collated, interpreted and
analysed. The results showed that although food handlers were aware of
food safety actions required by the industry, they identified barriers to
their implementation — specifically, lack of time, lack of staff and lack
of resources. As a result almost two thirds of those who had received food
hygiene training admitted not carrying out food safety behaviours; and
although all food handlers perceived their business to be relatively low
risk, they all prepared high risk foods.
The most recent questionnaire survey (2) had two main functions — to
audit hazard-based quality management, and to analyse comparatively the
differences between SMEs and the subset of microbusinesses (fewer than 10
employees). The findings revealed that although hazard-based quality
management was practised widely, the ability to define a hazard or
identify types of hazard was poor — especially amongst microbusinesses.
Together, this body of empirical research provided the platform for an
understanding of the food safety practices of the industry and the
importance of implementing `risk-based' training. It also consolidated the
importance of actual behaviour change in the sector as well as appropriate
resourcing for this work. The most recent study (3) adopted a
quasi-experimental intervention design in an attempt to improve compliance
with food safety hazard analysis critical control point legislation. Using
a user-friendly (non-technical) information resource, 123 SME food
businesses participated, and although the resource was well received,
there were no significant differences in knowledge, behaviour or attitude
as a result of its use. The null finding is crucial because it
demonstrates that mere provision of an information resource is
insufficient to bring about positive change. It is only through pro-active
engagement with SMEs in the sector that actual benefits can be achieved.
References to the research
The underpinning research for this Impact Case Study has been published
in international peer-reviewed journals. Five of the referenced outputs
have been funded by external grants: Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food, 1997-2000, £121k (5 and 6); Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food, 1999-2001, £120k (1); Food Standards Agency, 2002-2003, £42,034
(2); and Food Standards Agency, 2004, £56,079 (3). For specific journals,
the impact factor (IF) on 31st October 2013 is indicated, and,
where known, the number of citations by the same date is also included.
1. Clayton, D., Griffith, C.J., Price, P. and Peters, A.C. (2002). Food
handlers' beliefs and self-reported practices. International Journal
of Environmental Health, 12, 25-39.
DOI: 10.1080/09603120120110031 [IF: 1.203; Taylor and Francis
2. Fielding, L.M., Ellis, L., Beveridge, C. and Peters, A.C. (2005). An
evaluation of HACCP implementation in UK Small and Medium Enterprises in
food manufacturing. International Journal of Environmental Health
Research, 15 (2), 117-126.
DOI: 10.1080/09603120500061583 [2012 IF: 1.203; Taylor and Francis
3. Fielding, L.M., Ellis, L., Clayton, D. and Peters, A.C. (2011). An
evaluation of process specific information resources, aimed at hazard
analysis, in Small and Medium Enterprises in food manufacturing. Food
Control, 22 (8), 1171-1177.
DOI: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2011.01.011 [IF: 2.738 - 5 year IF: 3.006;
4. Griffith, C.J., Livesey, K.M. and Clayton, D. (2010). The assessment
of food safety culture. British Food Journal, 112 (4), 439-456.
DOI: 10.1108/00070701011034448. [2013 Impact Factor: 0.614; citations: 1]
5. Mortlock, M.P., Peters, A.C. and Griffith, C.J. (1999). Food hygiene
and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point in the United Kingdom food
industry: Practices, perceptions and attitudes. Journal of Food
Protection, 62 (7), 786-792.
URL: http://www.ingentaconnect.com /content
/iafp/jfp/1999/00000062/00000007/art00014 [2013 Impact Factor: 1.94;
6. Mortlock, M.P., Peters, A.C. and Griffith, C.J. (2000). A national
survey of food hygiene training and qualification levels in the UK food
industry. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 10
DOI: 10.1080/09603120050021119 [2012 IF: 1.203; Taylor and Francis
Details of the impact
Recognition of our research on food safety led to preliminary impact
resulting in the development of a KITE programme (13). Delivered through
the Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University, it was set up
as a feasibility study to run between 2008 and 2015, with additional
investment added in 2012 (12). Its aims included addressing the critical
need for food sector SMEs to meet technical demands required for business
sustainability by implementation of effective delivery mechanisms to
facilitate the transfer and embedding of food science / technology
knowledge and expertise.
Recognised in the Food Strategy for Wales (11) as a provider of
innovation and for instilling best practice, and in the report of the
European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Making Wales a
Better Place 2007-2013 (8), the Welsh Government also made explicit
the impact of our work. Under the banner headline `KITE project gives lift
to Welsh food industry', it commented on "A ground breaking programme
financed by £3.9 million", and explained that the intention was "to get
more Welsh food on the shelves of large retail stores across the world,
which in turn will allow SMEs to grow, providing local jobs for local
people including young food science graduates who would have traditionally
had to move to England to further their careers."
Having established the KITE programme, the impact of our research for
end-users (i.e., the food industry in Wales) have been concerned with: (i)
impacts on commerce — sales of new products, business performance
measures, employment figures, and commercial adoption of new technology,
process and knowledge; (ii) impacts on production — new products and
reduced wastage; and (iii) impacts on practitioners and services —
adoption of best practice.
The KITE programme has undergone a rigorous second party evaluation that
has been submitted to the Welsh Government. The Evaluation Report for
2008-2011 (10) made clear that there were also secondary outcomes linked
to investment, sustainability, nutrition and health, supply chain
efficiency, food culture, regeneration, market development, tourism,
reduction of environmental impact, business remodelling, focus on Welsh
Government convergence areas, workforce development, increased exports,
links with Welsh Government food and other policies, and food `hubs'. The
Report indicated progress on each of these spheres of influence and
projected more in the future.
Through the KITE programme a food science graduate is placed in a food
industry business with the aim of making improvements against four main
key performance indicators (KPIs),- technical management, new product
development, production management systems and waste control. Food safety
culture change philosophy and practices are fundamental to delivering
these KPIs. The clearest evidence of the impact on the food industry in
Wales is from the Quarterly Claim Report (9) which is verified by Welsh
Government (14). The most recent of these (to March 2013) shows that
against every measurable criterion, the actual performance has matched,
and often exceeded significantly the contractual target for the programme:
- Participation in the scheme: target 31 companies, actual performance
- Dissemination of outputs: target 86 companies, actual performance 86
- Increased sales of Welsh produce: target £16.3 million, actual
performance £27.2 million
- Creation of quality assurance roles: target 38, actual performance
- Creation of manufacturing roles: target 219, actual performance 270
- Waste reduction at source within processing: target £223k, actual
- Jobs safeguarded: target 620, actual performance 764
- Technical transfer conference to share good practice: target 1, actual
Particular examples illustrate the ways in which the KITE project has
impacted on SMEs in the food industry in Wales (15), and the role of
Cardiff Met has featured in a Welsh Government news bulletin on nutrition
for national sports teams (15).
As a result of this work, Food Industry Centre researchers have been
invited to become involved in other activities. Fielding acted as a
consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations,
on a European Union funded programme about curriculum design for sanitary
inspectors in Bangladesh (7) as well as contributing to the Centre for
Medical Education and the Institute of Public Health, advising on risk
based food safety management, and updating the curriculum (implemented in
July 2012). Lloyd contributed to public engagement through broadcast and
electronic media (16).
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Chief Technical Officer (2013) Personal testimony. Food Safety in
- European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe Investing in
Rural Areas (2013) Making Wales a Better Place 2007-2013.
Cardiff: Welsh Government.
- KITE Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme — Claim for Payment (1st
January 2013 - 31st March 2013).
- KITE Evaluation Report 2008-2011 endorsed by the Welsh Government and
the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
- Welsh Assembly Government (2010) Food for Wales, Food from Wales
2010/2020 - Food Strategy for Wales. WAG 10-10583. Cardiff: Welsh
- Welsh Government (2011) Funding for the three Food Centres in
Wales. Cardiff: Welsh Government.
- Director of the Welsh Government's Food and Market Development
Directorate (2013) Personal testimony. KITE programme award.
- Welsh Government (2013) Verification confirmation for Quarterly Claim
for Payment (1st January 2013 - 31st March 2013).
Illustrative examples of impact
WalesOnline (2011) Treforest family-owned pastry company The Welsh
Pantry announces expansion plans. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/business-news/treforest-family-owned-pastry-company-welsh-1810478
WalesOnline (2011) Asda baby food coup for Welsh company
WalesOnline (2011) Fruitapeel in line for £12m turnover in first year
National Centre for Universities and Business (no date) Cardiff
Metropolitan University's Food Industry Centre collaboration with Just
Love Food Company
Welsh Government (2013) Welsh soup powering rugby and football teams.
WalesOnline (2011) Wales' food and drink sector struggles to fill
BBC News Wales (2013) Horsemeat: Councils in Wales check school and
BBC News Wales (2013) Horsemeat: Cardiff food expert David Lloyd on