Explore: Food production

Quality Assurance and Health & Safety Manager
Vestey Holdings

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My name is Susan.

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I work for an organization called Cottage Delight, which are part of the Vestey group,

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based in Leek in Staffordshire,

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and my job title there is quality assurance and health and safety manager.

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So we specialise in traditional preserves,

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jams, chutneys, sauces, pickles.

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We do a fantastic range of curds, fudge,

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things like that.

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My job, it’s kind of almost broken up into two separate parts,

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the quality assurance part and then the health and safety part.

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So the quality assurance is making sure that everything we make and sell is

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safe to eat, tastes great and won’t do anyone any harm.

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And then the health and safety is looking after the staff

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who actually make the food,

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to make sure there’s no harm comes to them while they’re working on our site.

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You can be at your desk,

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but you can also be down in the factory, you can be around the warehouse,

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you can be visiting your suppliers or out and about visiting customers sometimes,

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so there’s a lot of variety to my job.

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Yeah, it’s never dull. One of the challenges I suppose is that

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there are times where you have to put a stop on something in production

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because it’s not right.

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And that’s where it does take a kind of a strong person.

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I’m fortunate in where I am now in Cottage Delight because quality is one of the prime things for us.

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And if me or one of my team say something is

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not right, we’re not happy with it that is accepted,

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it’s not questioned.

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People skills – I would say almost first

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and foremost – because you have to interact with a lot of people, from the customers,

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the suppliers, and all the staff, that work on the shop floor.

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We are responsible for making sure that

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the procedures are adhered to on the factory floor

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so it’s important

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that you can explain to people, not only what they have to do,

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but why they have to do it. Some kind of background knowledge in science,

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particularly microbiology, is definitely useful because you have to

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know what causes food to go off, what causes people

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to get ill from eating food.

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So I went to school in Ireland,

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so the education system’s slightly different than in the UK. When I was

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in my final years of high school,

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didn’t know what I wanted to do

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but I come from a farming background, so I decided that a degree in agriculture,

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agricultural science, would probably be the one that at least

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I would be with possibly like-minded people and then see where that got me.

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So from that, at the end of year one, I had decided that the food science

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element of things was more interesting than the animal husbandry, or the crop

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husbandry, and forestry and everything else.

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So I went down the food science route. So that’s why I did my degree

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in food science.

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Towards the end of my degree

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I had to do a placement, an industry placement,

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so that was in a dairy. I worked in the lab there testing the milk

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coming in from the farms.

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The following summer, I worked in a grain intake,

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and we were testing that for moisture level – and then by that stage I’d finished

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uni and I was ready to go into the world full time.

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So I worked in a company that supplied herbs and spices,

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mainly to the butchery trade,

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and I was doing

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testing on all the products coming in to make sure they were suitable for use.

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From there, then I got a job in the bakery,

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and that was quality control in the bakery,

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looking after mainly the hygiene and all that kind of stuff.

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I went to a different bakery after that,

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which was a slightly larger company,

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so that gave me my first exposure of working within a quality team

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and having more than one person kind of responsible for the job.

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Then for personal reasons, moved to the UK,

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settled in Stoke on Trent and saw a job advertised

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locally in Cottage Delight looking for a quality manager.

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Went for the interview and got the job. I think I’ve flowed through life

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without much of a plan and ended up where I am now. I would never describe myself

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as being particularly ambitious or anything like that.

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I just kind went from one job to the next.

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So my advice would be to work for a small company

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because there just aren’t large teams to do tasks.

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I think with the smaller company, lots of people have to pick up things.

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So you get the variety working in a small company and

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experience a lot of different things.

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So I think that’s what I would advise.

 

“I think I’ve flowed through life without much of a plan and ended up where
I am now.” Susan studied for an agricultural science degree, switching to food science as her interests developed. She’s now works for a food company, and is responsible for making sure everything is safe to eat and for looking after the staff who make the food.

More information about Quality assurance and regulatory professionals

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£52,520
average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

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34
average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

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50%  male 
50%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

Description
? Jobholders in this unit group plan, organise, co-ordinate and direct the effective measurement monitoring and reporting on the qualitative and regulatory aspects of a specified tangible (industrial production) or non-tangible (service provision) output.
Qualifications
Entry normally requires a degree or equivalent qualification with relevant experience. Off- and on-the-job training is available. NVQs/SVQs that encompass quality assurance elements are available up to Level 4.
Tasks
  • Develops and implements visual, physical, functional or other appropriate measures and tests of quality;
  • Analyses and reports upon the results of quality control tests to ensure that production remains within specification;
  • Considers the impact of legislation upon specification requirements;
  • Examines current operating procedures to determine how quality may be improved;
  • Examines operating procedures to ensure the process and the product meet regulatory standards and implements changes necessary to ensure compliance.
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