Getting children skilled in chilled

Wellingborough, UK: The Chilled Food Association has developed a series of teaching resources as part of its plans to tackle the predicted skills shortage in the rapidly expanding chilled food manufacturing industry.

The lesson plans and supporting material, designed for children aged 5-16, are available from www.chillededucation.org.

The association says it hopes the materials will “inform, educate and inspire children in all areas of the dynamic and diverse chilled food sector”.

The site also carries careers information including interviews with recent graduates now working in the chilled sector and more than 30 real job descriptions.

Association members and teachers will also be able to use a range of free resources to make the lessons lively and informative. It is providing 10,000 fridge thermometers and 500 innovative Glo-Germ kits, which illustrate the importance of proper hand washing. Light-hearted videos also make serious points about correct handling of chilled foods. Lessons will cover every aspect of chilled food production from new product development to packaging and marketing.

The lesson plans and resources for teachers also being launched at www.data.org.uk/cfa have been developed by the association in partnership with the Design and Technology Association which will help get the lessons into schools across the UK through it UK-wide network of over 6,000 design and technology teachers.

The Chilled Food Association is also providing STEM Ambassadors, whose network of 28,000 volunteers from the science and technology industries work with young people, to inspire interest in the Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Kaarin Goodburn, secretary general, Chilled Food Association is keen for as many schools as possible to benefit from Chilled Education. “The chilled food industry is the UK’s fastest growing retail food sector and so most likely to suffer from the shortage of food science graduates,” says Goodburn.

“We also know that young people’s perceptions of working in the food industry are not very positive, but their preconceptions around pay and working conditions are unfounded. By working with children from a young age we want to inspire them, spark their curiosity in food and show them how relevant and attractive the chilled food industry is. We believe our initiative will be a significant contribution to the Food Supply Chain Skills Action Plan,” she says.

Alison Robertson, chairman of the Chilled Food Association and technical director of Daniels Chilled Foods believes Chilled Education will give young people a real insight into the industry. “Currently, one of the most pressing of those demands is in the recruitment of technical staff where many posts are difficult to fill. So, as we look to create a sustainable future we need to get youngsters interested and engaged at an early age. By working with schools to bring the chilled food industry right into the classroom we aim to address this, and the fresh approach we are taking reflects both the dynamism of our sector and the great variety of chilled foods.

Chilled Education has been well received by the industry, also receiving the support of the Science Council, Association for Science Education and the Institute of Food Science and Technology.

Bob Martin of the Food Standards Agency said: “We welcome the launch of the Chilled Education website as a resource that can help people to understand what is involved in making chilled foods safely, as well as providing useful information about key food safety subjects.”

Chilled Education is part of the Chilled Food Association’s wider initiative to boost industry recruitment. Earlier this year the association funded students to attend the University of Nottingham’s Food Science Summer School.

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