Capitalising on the growing trend for ‘retro’ comfort food, ingredients supplier Macphie has launched a new Shortbread Mix. Shortbread has a long history, but Macphie says it has updated the Scottish delicacy for the 21st Century. Macphie commercial director Ian Wolfenden says: “Datamonitor’s Everyday Self Indulgences report identified that around 45% of indulgent treats can be associated with stress relief. Simplicity and tradition are driving the ‘comfort’ trend and many people are seeking traditional favourites with a twist. Macphie Shortbread Mix has been developed as an indulgent treat that is reminiscent of the past. It produces shortbread with a home-baked appearance, a creamy flavour and a satisfying crunch.” Macphie Shortbread Mix can be prepared in under five minutes and can be cut or moulded into a variety of shapes including fingers and petticoat tails. To celebrate the launch of Shortbread Mix, Macphie is offering a free 12.5kg bag of Macphie Shortbread Mix and bottle of single malt Old Glenbervie Scotch whisky to the first five readers to answer the following question: Which country does shortbread originate from? Send answers on a postcard to Macphie Shortbread Mix competition, Macphie of Glenbervie, Stonehaven, AB39 3YG.
I feel less than sunny at the news of the launch this week in Scotland of the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) ’scores on the doors’ pilots.The FSA’s plan is to give consumers information at the point of purchase about shops’ hygiene standards, based on their last food inspection report. This information will be conveyed by certificates displayed inside the shop stating ’pass’ or ’improvement required’. Involvement in the scheme is voluntary and there will be pilots across the UK.In my opinion, the FSA’s consultation on this has been disappointingly patchy. Bakers’ shops are often in the high street and are high profile and easy to target. Because of this they will probably receive a lot of attention from these schemes. Will side street stall operators, late night carry-out shops and markets, all of which I suggest are real problem areas, receive a similar level of attention?There are issues here of consistency and fairness. Do local authorities have the resources to adequately run and police the schemes? What will the notices mean to the public? Where is the incentive, if you are given an ’improvement required’ notice, to put up a certificate and alert your customers to the fact?To me the concept looks like an exercise in regulatory creep going way beyond the intentions of legislators. We must all watch this space – it is for each baker to decide whether or not to be part of these schemes.
Innovative food and drink companies in the West Midlands are to get a helping hand developing their ideas.Funding from the West Mid-lands Food Partnership will help small and medium-sized food companies team up with research and development institutions to come up with new products.Approved applications will be eligible for 50% match funded awards of between £500 and £5,000 in the scheme, managed by Heart of England Fine Foods.The regional food group is keen to help develop new recipes or enhance the health benefits of existing recipes; redesign product packaging; or implement new systems that will improve companies’ standing in the marketplace.”Funding can be used for lab testing, licensing and patenting to consultancy fees and training costs,” said West Midlands Food Partnership manager James Allen.For more information, contact 01746 785185 or email [email protected]
Q How did you come into the baking industry?A My father was with Kelly’s Bakery in Kilcock as a salesman. When I was a child, I used to go down to the bakery with him and it was a love affair. I started at O’Rourke’s bakery (Mother’s Pride) in the days when you were signed into an indentured apprenticeship with a master.I still have the list of things we were precluded from doing, such as staying out late at night without permission. My brother, Robert, followed me into bakery and is presently with Johnston Mooney & O’Briens.After my apprenticeship, I attended Dublin Bakery College, where I was the first Irish citizen to be awarded the London City and Guilds Silver Medallion.The MD showed me competi-tors’ products and said that if I could produce them to an acceptable standard, packaged and costed, he would consider me to be a suitable candidate. So I did it and got the job as product development manager.That started my career in management and I later became bread bakery production manager and confectionery production manager; bakery general manager at Mother’s Pride Group (owned by RHM); and bakery general manager at Irish Bakeries.Q How did you get involved in yeast production?A I came into Yeast Products as CEO and later became managing director of the company.For me it was an interesting business, because yeast and its functionality is an issue of breadmaking and fermentation. So while they are two totally diffe-rent businesses, the logic between them has similarities. Because I knew what a baker would look for in yeast, we set out to achieve that as a business.That is the reason we have been very successful.Q Tell me about your links with the UK and becoming one of a handful of Irish members of the Worshipful Company of BakersA When I was with RHM, at its bakery on North Circular Road, Dublin, Derrick Warburton, father of Jonathan, who now heads up Warburton’s Bakery, was on our board and he invited me to work in ’back o’ th’ bank’ in Bolton to see their bakery operation and get a good grounding. Mother’s Pride had bakeries across the UK and I worked in many of them.Some years back, I was invited to go along to the Worshipful Company of Bakers and attended events so I was subsequently invited to join and was delighted to do so. More recently, I have become a liveryman of the company. I’ve been asked by the master to bring my chain of office of Irish Association of Master Bakers. That will be the first time that chain of office will have officiallybeen worn, in its 100 years in existence, at the Election Banquet in the Mansion House in London. It is a big honour.All of these things are forging the links between our two islands.Q What do you hope to do as president of the Irish Association of Master Bakers (IAMB)?A At our conference, members spoke about how the industry has been the subject – not only here but across the world – of bad press, and not all of it based on fact. I hope that, over the next two years, the industry can put together a response to these spurious claims and enhance the image of bread and its part in a healthy diet. The industry at large has to decide how to proceed. IAMB is the umbrella body, with a role in pulling all industry groups together where there is a common issue like this.Q What other issues are facing Irish bakery?A The industry continues to diversify and rationalise. It has been responding to changing market demand and bakers have been introducing new products. The demand for variety is beginning to grow and that trend will continue. So we will have a wide range of products in Irish bakeries, just as there are in European bakeries.It has come full circle. In my youth, every baker produced a full range of bakery and confectionery products, which were all sold fresh every day and they had all the skills that went into that. But with the advent of supermarkets, the sale of fresh products as wholesale was centralised.Now, the industry is embracing new technology – the concept of using frozen product, retarded products and gas flushing, for example – technologies that extend the lifespan of products and open up opportunities for greater variety.Q How has the issue of training been tackled in Ireland?A Skillnets is going very well and gives us the opportunity to train bakers in-situ. It is a structured and focused programme. Pat Garvey is responsible for it and he has done an excellent job. He won an award for creating one of the best Skillnets programmes across all industries. The bakery industry was complimented for the quality of its training programme.Matching training needs with the industry’s needs is vital. As pressure is exerted to comply with different standards or product demand patterns, training is provided. The Bakery School’s interaction with the industry has diminished, but there will always a place for a national bakery college in the bakery industry.Q What are the difficulties and opportunities in the Irish market?A It is not right that bread should be selling at low prices. It is taking away from our industry the ability to reinvest and meet the needs of consumers. As a wholesome foodstuff, bread should command a reasonable price.I hear of the pressure on pricing in supermarkets, where small amounts of money affect decisions to purchase.If bread is sold on price alone, you would sell only cheap products – but that is not the case; bread is beginning to find a place again as an important quality food item in the shopping basket.There is a renaissance in the craft bakery sector. You come across French, Polish, and other bakeries in Ireland now and they are bringing their skills with them. That process is finding favour among consumers. Irish bakers, too, have been diversifying and introducing new products and new bakeries are opening.Q What do you do when you are not at work?A I follow rugby, and am an avid supporter of the Irish squad, and I read quite a bit. My wife, Angela, and I have also travelled a lot – in Italy, Spain and Portugal, of late.I like Italy – in particular its culture, social background, art and history – and I am, inevitably, drawn to bakeries wherever I am.My son, Paul, graduated from University College, Dublin, with a B. Com (Hons) and is running a restaurant in Cabinteely (in Ireland). He is into food big-time. As a child he used to help me to make mince pies at Christmas and, as he got older, graduated to more advanced items. n
The Delfield SADIA range of Gastronorm single- and double-door upright fridges has been revamped to include a Mono-Bloc system.This new development means that the evaporator is now no longer within the fridge, but is set on top with the compressor, the company says. Not only does this give greater capacity within the fridge, but if a repair is required, it is now a very quick case of removing the top cassette and replacing with a new one.Gastronorm fridges are available in a wide range of cabinet sizes, are CFC-free and feature reversible doors and removable shelves as standard.
Lancashire’s Glovers Bakery is to showcase its new range of speciality and healthy breads by holding its first open day on Saturday.The firm has linked up with ingredients supplier Zeelandia for the event. It hopes to inspire and educate shoppers about artisan breads, with demonstrations, tastings and displays on 19 May, at its Leyland shop.The range of breads includes Fiesta Corn, Exakt Ciabatta, O’mega – enriched with Omega 3 fatty acids, and Prokorn – a multigrain bread.
Anuga, the 286,000sq m international trade fair for food and beverages, is to take place in Cologne, from 13 to 17 October 2007.It has 10 specialised trade shows under one roof, and will be hosting Anuga Bread & Bakery, Hot Beverages, which attracted 377 exhibitors and 46,851 visitors in 2005. Bakery suppliers including RHM Bread Bakeries, Bagel Nash, Mr Bagels, Walkers Shortbread, Fuerst Day Lawson and GR Wright & Sons will be exhibiting at the show, which will also incorporate Anuga Organic, an exhibition of organic goods, for the first time.”We are pleased with the outcome this year,” said Caroline Mattocks, export manager of Consolidated Biscuit, following Anuga Bread & Bakery, Hot Beverages 2005. “We introduced our brand in two new markets and had serious enquiries, some of which we hope will materialise in the months ahead.”According to Anuga’s research, 95% of exhibitors were satisfied or very satisfied with the visitors’ decision-making authority. The show is open to bakers, purchasing directors, management, sales and marketing executives, as well as those involved in the procurement and installation of technical facilities and equipment. It also offers an opportunity to showcase ideas and new products to manufacturers, importers and wholesalers.Germany’s key decision-makers are to attend, with 6,294 suppliers and 158,817 visitors from 156 countries visiting Anuga in 2005. It will host forums and presentation areas where new concepts will be unveiled, as well as a range of conferences and seminars.
The National Association of Master Bakers (NA) has slammed the Competition Commission’s report into supermarket power, accusing it of having “no concerns or interests about the viability of the high street or town centres”.NA Parliamentary officer Chris Dabner said the report, which recommends planning changes that encourage more out-of-town supermarkets, could have a devastating effect on retail bakers.”There doesn’t seem to be anything in this report to help maintain business activity in town centres and high streets,” he said. “If you build more out-of-town stores, people will inevitably be drawn to them, and that will have an effect on businesses in small towns.”He added that the narrow remit of the study mitigated against findings that would benefit small businesses, with the focus instead on increasing the amount of competition between existing supermarkets by allowing a bigger variety to be built in any one area.The number of supermarkets in the UK grew by approximately 4% between 2000 and 2006, from 6,302 to 6,585. Sainsbury’s and Tesco have also stepped up their convenience store presence, with 60% now housing in-store bakeries or bake-off offerings.l See news analysis pgs 14-15.
Even though the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) has been in force for over a decade, employers, employees, lawyers and medics still grapple with this highly complex area of law, in order to address the needs of those who are disabled within the employment arena.The DDA has its own definition of disability, which does not necessarily correspond to the common use of the word. Section 1 of the DDA states that someone will be afforded protection if they have “a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial adverse impact on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities and which is long-term”.In reality, the Employment Tribunals tasked with interpreting the definition, break it down into its component parts:1. Is there a physical or mental impairment? Until recently, an employee would have to show that, if they had a mental impairment, it was clinically well-recognised. They no longer need to do so and either stress or depression can amount to a disability.2. Does the impairment have an impact on the employee’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities? Note that it is not work activities which are under scrutiny but everyday tasks.3. Is the impact substantial? In law this means if it is more than minor or trivial, then it will qualify.4. Is it long-term? The Tribunals will assess a condition as coming within the protection of the DDA if it has lasted or is likely to last for more than 12 months or the rest of the employee’s life.If someone is protected by the DDA, they have a right not to be treated less favourably on grounds of their disability. There is no defence available to an employer if direct discrimination is proven. Protected employees have a right not to suffer victimisation and there is a positive obligation on the employer to make reasonable adjustments to the working environment, so as to reduce the disadvantage to the disabled employee.Sickness v disabilityThere are many conditions that come within the scope of the Act and employers can be concerned about how to manage an employee who is unable to fulfil his or her contractual obligations. However, dismissal on grounds of capability is still a potentially fair reason for dismissal and it is possible to dismiss someone who is protected by the DDA. That is not to say that employers are not able to take action if their employees are sick. The Equal Treatment Directive, from which the DDA flows, does draw the distinction between sickness and disability and someone will not be protected unless the sickness results in a long-term or permanent functional limitation, such as amounts to a disability.excluded conditionsUntil recently, there were no conditions which automatically afforded an individual protection under the DDA. This position has changed. Multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV, blindness or partial sightedness and severe disfigurements are all deemed as protected under the DDA. Excluded conditions are as follows: addictions to any substance (including alcohol); the tendency to steal; the tendency to physical or sexual abuse of other persons; hayfever; tattoos.Avoid assumptions about any disability or condition, as these may lead to inadvertent pitfalls. For example, an addiction to alcohol may, on the face of it, be excluded from the protection of the DDA, but what if the alcohol use/abuse is a symptom of depression or a cause of it? What if alcohol dependency/abuse has caused cirrhosis of the liver? Advice is needed, if alcohol is an issue and an independent medical opinion should be sought.The best advice for employers is to ensure that all their policies are designed to recognise disability issues. People with disabilities are protected when they apply for jobs, not just when they become employees, so employers need to have a comprehensive Equal Opportunities Policy. Advertisements should be free from discriminatory criteria and the application form should ask appropriate questions about health. Diversity monitoring forms should be used to capture information that is sensitive and it should be clear to applicants that this information will be kept confidential and not seen by anyone making a decision about who to recruit.The importance of training – for managers especially but all staff – cannot be overstated. If your managers are not comfortable about return-to-work interviews, how to treat disability-related absence and familiar with assessing reasonable adjustments, then problems and tensions can occur.It is advisable that employers reserve their right to request that an employee, who has been absent for some time, whether during one long period of absence or repeated shorter periods, attend an independent medical assessment. This will enable the employer to determine the extent of their legal obligations and help the employee clarify their needs. As long as the policy is applied consistently, it can only help both parties to agree a way forward and will ensure employers avoid less favourable treatment allegations from disabled employees.There is a positive obligation on the employer to make adjustments once they are aware that a disabled person is at a substantial disadvantage. The government scheme Access to Work provides a workplace assessment and funding for any adjustments which need to be made on the condition that the employee self-refers. nl The Darbys team advises more than 30 businesses throughout the bakery and food supply chain. Contact Rob Bryan on 01865 811767.—-=== Top tips ===1. Get it right from the start – make sure your advertising and recruitment policy is non-discriminatory.2. Are you asking the right questions at the right time on application forms and in interviews?3. Training for managers – is it current and comprehensive?4. Have you reserved the right to require a medical assessment if necessary? Check the contract and handbook.5. Don’t make assumptions about any medical condition – get specialist advice and consult the employee.6. Do you have a robust sickness absence policy?7. Be flexible – have you considered reasonable adjustments?8. Remember Access to Work, a government-funded scheme that provides workplace assessments and substantial funding for any changes required.9. Do carry out return-to-work interviews and be sensitive.10. Be consistent as this will leave no opportunity for anyone to claim less favourable treatment.
The nutmeg tree is native to the Moluccas (The Spice Islands), although it is now also grown widely in the West Indies. Nutmeg is not a nut and, as such, is not a danger to people with nut allergies although, rarely, some people can be allergic to it.Nutmegs are generally sold whole or ready-ground. One grated nutmeg measures approximately three teaspoons. The flavour of ground nutmeg deteriorates quite quickly, whereas whole nutmegs keep indefinitely and can be grated on a nutmeg grater when needed. It has a strong taste and too much can be harmful so a little goes a long way and less is used than other spices.In baking, nutmeg can be used in custard tarts, fruit cakes, spice cakes, honey cakes, cookies and biscuits. It will complement apples and a little, along with cinnamon, can lift an apple pie or crumble. It also goes well in savoury dishes and a touch, added to an aubergine or mushroom tart or a vegetable crumble, will give a savoury, spicy twist.Try making a wild mushroom tart and add a good pinch of nutmeg to the mushrooms, just as they are cooking in butter or oil, before adding to the rest of the filling.Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine