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Food Factories Uncovered | Documentary Idea

by Ian Abbotts
(Bedford, UK)

I initially qualified as an Environmental Health Officer, then escaped Local government for something more exciting and spent 37 years in the food industry including 25 years working for a major UK food retailer (Marks & Spencer). I now have my own Food Technical Consultancy business and still spend a lot of my time working directly and indirectly for M&S.

My experience and documentary idea is centered around food factory standards - on a global basis.

People have very little or no idea what actually goes on in food factories. They also have no idea at all of the lengths the UK retailers, in particular, go to in making sure that the food produced in their supplying factories is safe to eat.

My idea is not to 'whisteblow' on the standards in food factories, far from it, but to visit food manufacturers who are struggling to achieve the necessary standards to supply the UK retailers. This will involve appraising their technical expertise and resource as well as practical standards such as pest control, foreign body contamination risks, cleaning standards, personal hygiene, handling of the raw materials, suitability of the building structure, training of staff and so on. Having identified the issues, I would then use my expertise to constructively find a way through and put them right.

This would require food manufacturers who are struggling to come forward and offer themselves for the experience of being assessed in return for free of charge consultancy. This principle seemed to work well in the '90s TV series 'Troubleshooter' with Sir John Harvey Jones. Gordon Ramsey's 'Hells Kitchen' series is similar in concept.

I have thought through some of the possible obstacles to this working, such as food companies not wishing to be filmed where there are serious issues, however, I feel that I have all the answers to that and it would be vital that such situations were handled carefully. I believe the subject matter would be fascinating to the public.

If there is any interest in this, I would be keen to discuss it further.

Many thanks
Ian



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