Like the other universities, South Bank is no stranger to the food business, and the London Food Technology Centre is building on an established food faculty and the Teaching Company Scheme.
Dorset-based business S Moores Biscuits and South Bank profited from this three years ago, when the company found it needed to establish HACCP. David Winship, the senior partner in the business, had trained at South Bank and approached the university for help.
It found Colette Bonner, a food technology graduate, and assigned her to the company on a two-year placement. Bonner was charged with establishing the systems as part of a programme for her MSc.
‘David Winship knew he couldn’t handle the necessary HACCP and hygiene issues himself,’ recalls Bonner. Meetings were arranged between Winship and the university to agree what both sides wanted from the placement.
‘They had a list of things they wanted done in the company. The first year I was working on HACCP and hygiene; later I moved on to product development.’
Despite the distance, Bonner was in regular contact with the university. Two supervisors arrived once a fortnight to check progress and offer advice, and every three months a project meeting with the company managers kept everyone in the picture.
‘This is quite common in product development,’ Bonner says. ‘It all went quite smoothly, though the project hasn’t come to an end yet.’
Once the hygiene systems were in place, Bonner worked on the development of coconut biscuits, oat and honey biscuits, and lemon fingers, as well as an own-brand product, which is just coming onto the market.
Much of the development work revolved around taking a core recipe and modifying it to work with a new machine, a rotary moulder. Bonner has now joined the firm as permanent technical manager.