Aston joins Birmingham City Council to give food for thought

Aston University has won a contract with Birmingham City Council to train 20 caterers following the arrival of new EU legislation on 1st January 2006. The training will help support Asian caters from the local community who may be affected by a language barrier in understanding how to implement the new legislation.

The first session will be held at Aston University on Tuesday 31st January from 10am to 1pm.

Although the new legislation has been put in place, there has been no additional help from the Government for small businesses or businesses whose employees speak little English. The Safer Food Better Business scheme will therefore provide these businesses with further guidance on the new legislation.

The EU has stated that all food business operators across Europe must establish, implement and maintain a food safety management system. The strict guidelines have been enforced as a result of there being no set qualifications required in order to set up restaurants or takeaways. A lack of training and safety awareness of some catering businesses has consequently led catering premises to be the most common location for food poisoning, followed by the domestic home.

Dr Anthony Hilton, Senior Lecturer in Microbiology in the School of Life & Health Sciences at Aston, will be training the group in the new, recommended food safety system, Safer Food Better Business. The microbiology and food safety expert was nominated by Birmingham City Council to undergo training at the Foods Standards Agency in order to train the Council’s own Environmental Health Officers and Caterers.

‘Aston University has had a long standing partnership in food safety with Birmingham City Council and is very much looking forward to working with them to implement Safer Food Better Business across the region,’ said Dr Hilton.

The scheme will consist of a three hour training session at the University followed by two visits to the caterer’s individual premises. The first visit will help them implement the scheme and the second will provide support in ensuring it is adhered to.

Many of the caterers undergoing training originate from a variety of Asian countries, with most speaking Mirpuri. This is the language spoken by a lot of the caterers in the Sparkhill and Sparkbrook area. Any language barrier is overcome by Language Consultant Mohammed Ashraf. Originating from the Mirpuri region of Pakistan, Mr Ashraf is able to speak Mirpuri, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi. His role in the scheme involves being present in the training sessions to translate when necessary and perform many of the follow up visits to the businesses. Mohammed, who is a graduate of Aston University, has had 18 years of catering experience and has had his own restaurant, Haweli on the Hagley Road in Birmingham for 12 years.

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research