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Nobody can truly predict the outcome of June 8th General Election. We’ve found that we can’t necessarily rely on opinion polls. Look at what happened in America – and in the EU Referendum. Then there’s the uncertainty following the forthcoming French Election.

BrexitNo backtracking on Brexit

Whichever party, or coalition, forms the next Government, the fact remains that they are still going to have to deal with Britain’s exit from the European Union. Even if we’d like to, we can’t back out now. Yes, Article 50 doesn’t come into effect for a couple of years, but for Brexit to be reversed every one of the 27 EU member countries would have to agree to take us back. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see that happening. We’ve ruffled far too many feathers. So, whether it’s soft, hard or something in between – Brexit isn’t going away anytime soon.

How border controls could be barriers to British exports

Greater control of our borders was one of the main reasons why many British citizens cast their vote in favour of leaving the EU. They felt there were too many immigrants entering the UK. However, what they might not have realised is that they were not only voting against free movement of people within EU Bmember countries. Their vote also placed considerable barriers to British companies who rely on the export of their goods to the EU.

This factor is of particular significance to the food industry. Let’s take a look at some figures: in 2015 the UK exported £8.9bn of food and non-alcoholic drinks to the EU and £3,2bn of value-added food and non-alcoholic drinks to the EU. That represented 71% of the UK’s total food and non-alcoholic drink exports for the year. (Source: HM Revenue & Customs 2016).

Richard North EU Brexit

EU Blogger and Brexit expert, Richard North.

UK to become ‘Third Country’ in dealings with the EU

At the moment trade flows freely between EU countries. When we leave it won’t be so easy. It won’t be as simple as saying ‘We’re leaving, but we want all our trade arrangements to stay the same.’ You see, when Brexit finally comes into effect, Britain will be classed as a ‘Third Country’ in relation to EU countries.

As prominent EU blogger and Brexit expert, Richard North, puts it: “Our new status as a country sitting outside of the single market will bring the imposition of a series of controls. The most prominent and potentially most damaging will be the inspection regime carried out at Border Control Points. Roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) shippers will experience significant delays, as will what are commonly termed ‘driver accompanied loads.’ In such cases not only will the load be held up, the vehicle and driver will be kept out of play as well.’

tomatoesDelays and a shortfall in inspection facilities could cause chaos

He continues ‘That said, it would appear that delays are only part of the problem and the smaller part of it. If there are significant capacity shortfalls in inspection facilities, there will have to be restrictions on the on the level of exports, either on a first-come, first served basis, or with the adoption of a more equitable quota system. Failing that, we see the prospect of loads being delayed so long that perishable contents will be spoiled and become unusable. On top of this, the extra shipping time may render the transport of low value goods uneconomic.’

So, if you’re a current exporter of fresh and perishable goods to EU countries, the prospect of delays at border controls could pose a very real threat to the profitability or, indeed, future of your business.

It’s not a case of keeping the old EU regulations and expecting things to remain the same

It is not sufficient merely for Britain to continue binding itself to the relevant regulations. It will still be a ‘third country’ and must go through all the hoops before it is allowed to export to the EU. This means, amongst other things, that animals and products of animal origin must be routed via a Border Inspection Post.

At the moment, because we’re still a member of the EU, any foodstuffs of plant or animal origin that we’re planning to export to other EU countries are inspected here, at their point of origin. This means that if a company is producing beef, for example, they will be inspected and approved by UK authorities under the supervision of the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office. There are no border controls required. This approval is sufficient.


Dublin Port sign

After Article 50 is executed, this free trade will disappear. Even products moving between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic will be subject to border control, since the Irish republic is remaining in the EU. In other words all goods will need to be re-routed via border controls at either Shannon Airport or Dublin Airport or Port before they can be circulated throughout Ireland.

For exports to France and beyond, all British produce will need to be inspected at either Dunkirk or Le Havre – the only two points where there are inspection facilities at present. And you can imagine the pressure and delays especially if samples need to be taken off-site for analysis.

Are there any solutions?

Richard North comments that: “A possible mitigation factor is the adoption by the Commission of the Article 73 procedure (under the 2017 Regulations) permitting pre-export controls to be performed by third countries. However, these do not affect the right of Member States to carry out official controls on imported feed and food to verify that the pre-export checks carried out in the non-EU country remain effective. Furthermore, only two approvals have been given, one to the United States relating to “peanuts and derived products thereof as regards the presence of aflatoxins” and the other to Canada relating to “wheat and wheat flour as regards the presence of ochratoxin A”.

So, then, even at best, the prospects for many food exports to the EU, post-Brexit, are poor. There will be considerable delays, increased costs and difficulty in committing to reliable delivery timing. At worst, delays and/or capacity limitations may make it impossible to continue the export of highly perishable products. In the longer-term, ro-ro shipping may prove impracticable or uneconomic and we may to a shift to containerised transport, with redistribution away from the Channel ports.

Brexit talkMeet Richard North

This is certainly food for thought. You can read more of Richard’s informed comments on Brexit at eureferendum.com. Or, better still, come and meet the man himself at our Brexit briefing on 22nd June. Contact Claire Lennon (claire.lennon@vwa.co.uk) for more details.




March madness

March was an extremely busy month at Verner Wheelock! We have run courses here every week. In fact on some occasions demand has been such that we’ve run two courses concurrently – at our training centre or at Utopia or The Tempest.

We’ve managed to pack in Level 4 HACCP, Level 4 Food Safety, Training the Trainer and Managing Food Allergens, as well as refresher courses in auditing, food safety, HACCP and training skills.

Refresher courses are extremely useful if it’s been 3 years or more since you last undertook training. They’re also an essential requirement by many external auditors or employers as part of your CPD.

Let’s also not forget 11 in-house courses up and down the country during March. We like to keep our trainers on their toes (and our Training Support Team for that matter)!

Verner Wheelock staff training

We’re firm believers in practising what you preach. So not only do we run courses for the food industry, we also undertake training ourselves. This is what we’ve been doing recently:

Mitch has taken and passed the Auditing Skills Refresher and Level 3 HACCP. Plus he has just passed his FDQ Lead Auditor examination.

Amberley is now a fully qualified First Aider, having passed her Emergency First Aid course. She’s also taken and passed her Level 3 HACCP.



Rachael B has also been busy. She’s been successful in passing her Data Protection examination and Fire Safety training. She also achieved a Pass with Distinction in her Level 3 HACCP examination.



Not to be outdone, Rachel C has completed the Managing Food Allergens course and has passed her Emergency First Aid certificate. She’s also undertaken Social Media for Business training (“I have to be on Facebook and Twitter all the time – it’s part of my job….”). Rachel will be tackling Level 3 HACCP next. She says she’s feeling the pressure already as everyone else in the office has passed.

Fantastic results

Speaking 0f passing exams, we’re over the moon with the great examination results our delegates have achieved. For example we ‘re delighted to announce a 100% pass rate for our recent auditing skills courses. 59 delegates took the exam and there were an impressive 29 distinctions! Well done everyone at Alpla, Dunbia, Pladis and Haribo as well as individuals attending the course here in Skipton.

We’re pleased to report a high level of distinctions in our Level 3 Food Safety and Level 3 HACCP course exams. There were 11 distinctions for Food Safety and 13 distinctions for Level 3 HACCP. This gives an overall pass rate of 96%.

Our advanced level Lead Auditor course at the end of January also delivered 2 distinctions and 6 passes. This is a challenging examination, so we’re extremely pleased with the overall pass rate of 80%.

STOP PRESS: We have just had the results of our April Lead Auditing course – a pass rate of 100% and 3 more distinctions.



Our very own Flying Scotsman!

On my journey to work on 31st March I noticed an inordinate number of vehicle parked up in the laybys on the A629. The drivers and passengers had vacated their cars and were peering through binoculars or setting up tripods.

I suddenly remembered that the famous steam locomotive The Flying Scotsman was due to pass though that morning. Never one to miss a photo opportunity I decided to take a phot myself. So here it is – our very own ‘Flying Scotsman’ Admin Controller Mitch Morrison!

Sweet dreams, Mabel

Along with the successes, we also had some extremely sad news in March. Mabel, one of Alison’s two little dogs died after being knocked down by a car. Many of you will remember Mabel. She was a very sweet-natured Jack Russell terrier with a larger than life bark. The place isn’t quite the same without her. We miss her very much and our condolences are with Alison at this sad time.

Verner Wheelock Awards

We have now delivered all the 2016 Verner Wheelock Excellence Awards to their recipients. For the final award for Individual Excellence, Claire and Rachel visited Harper Green School in Bolton.

Claire presented the Award to Sharron Jacques who is the school’s Senior Catering Officer. Sharron had undertaken our Training the Trainer course in Skipton in July.  Course tutor Judith Sunderland nominated Sharron because “her enthusiasm was excellent and she gave the funniest micro-teach of the food handler from hell that I have seen.”

Sharron said “Winning this Verner Wheelock award has been a great confidence-booster and a fantastic recognition for our department within the school.”

Forthcoming Courses

Our Spring/Summer courses are filling up steadily. May courses are all full with the exception of a couple of places, so here is an update of Verner Wheelock courses running in June and July. As ever, if you’d like to book a place, contact Claire on 01756 700802 or use the online booking form at www.vwa.co.uk.


Level 4 Food Safety –  5th -7th June – FULL

Auditing Skills – 12th -13th June

Supplier Auditing – 14th June

HACCP Refresher – 15th June

Level 4 Food Safety Update 16th June

Level 3 Food Safety –  19th – 21st June

VACCP & TACCP – 22nd June

Level 3 HACCP – 26th – 27th June

Training the Trainer – 28th& 29th June & 5th/ 6th July


Level 4 HACCP  – 10th -13th July

Level 3 HACCP – 12th – 13th July

 To book your place on any of the above courses, please call Claire on 01756 700802 or email claire.lennon@vwa.co.uk








This year marks the 10th anniversary of a unique reaction flavours course held in the UK. Creating Thermal Process Flavours, run by food industry training specialist, Verner Wheelock, is the only course of its kind and attracts delegates from around the globe.

Specialist flavour course

The annual 5-day laboratory-based course is aimed at graduates working in NPD and flavour technology in the food, seasonings and flavour industries.  It’s also ideal for flavourists looking to get back to basics and explore their creativity. It is tutored by internationally-recognised flavour consultants Dr David Baines and Richard Seal whose clients and experience read like a Who’s Who of the food industry.

Dr David Baines

Dr David Baines

“The course is designed to provide delegates with the theory and practice behind the development and production of process flavours. This means they can return to their companies with the knowledge and confidence to create their own reaction flavours.” Said Dr Baines.

“For example, on the last course we showed 52 model reactions in the first two days. These demonstrated the use of ingredients, process conditions and the application of enzymes in developing authentic raw materials for use in process reactions.”

Verner Wheelock’s Managing Director, Alison Wheelock, said “It’s wonderful that this course is still as popular as ever. Since the course began in 2007 we’ve welcomed delegates from as far afield as Argentina, Brazil, Singapore and India, as well as from Europe.

Why the course is so popular with flavourists

Alison Wheelock

Managing Director, Alison Wheelock

I think there are three main reasons for the popularity of Creating Thermal Process Flavours. Firstly there’s no other course like it with a main focus on savoury reaction flavours. It also now incorporates sweet brown flavours such as chocolate caramel and malt.

Secondly, an undoubted pull is the course tutors.  David and Richard are experts in their field and this course is the perfect blend of specialist lectures and hands-on practical sessions.

Finally there’s the social element. We’re based in Skipton, in the Yorkshire Dales and we like to offer our delegates some of our famous Yorkshire hospitality. Everyone stays in the same hotel and we provide activities in the evenings. By the end of the course, as well as having benefited from the expertise of Richard and David, they’ve been able to share knowledge, ideas and creativity between themselves – and made some firm friends as well.”

There are still some places available on the next Creating Thermal Process Flavours course which runs from 23rd – 27th October 2017. For more information, please visit www.vwa.co.uk or email claire.lennon@vwa.co.uk


Poetry in motion #worldpoetryday

It’s World Poetry Day, so here’s my attempt at a poem about Verner Wheelock:

Manufacturer, packager, restauranteur…
The food industry trainer that people prefer
Is Verner Wheelock on the Broughton Estate.
The venue is perfect; exam results: great.
Our trainers are experts; our staff are the best.
So book on our courses, and you’ll be impressed
(well we’re pretty sure you will be. We don’t get many complaints…)


Dr Verner WheelockWell it’s 17th March, which can only mean one thing – it’s St Patrick’s Day.

Did you know that our founder and chairman, Verner, is Irish? He grew up in County Wexford before coming to university in the UK. Even though he’s lived in Yorkshire for a very long time, you can still detect his Irish accent.

Verner is not alone in choosing to stay in ‘God’s Own Country’. The 2011 Census shows that there are now over 20,000 Irish natives living in Yorkshire and the Humber. They will no doubt be celebrating their national day today. But here are some facts you might not know about St Patrick:


St Patrick was never actually canonised by the church

So, strictly speaking, he was never officially made a saint. However he performed miracles and established churches in Ireland where he worked as a Christian missionary.

St Patricks daySt Patrick is Scottish, not Irish.

Shock! Horror! He was born Maewyn Succat in Kilpatrick, Scotland in AD387 and first came to Ireland as a slave to tend sheep. He was just 16 years of age. He later escaped and trained for the priesthood. On his return to Ireland he converted thousands of Irish with pagan beliefs to Christianity.


Verner Wheelock St Patricks Day

There is a good reason the shamrock is associated with St Patrick’s Day.

St Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the holy trinity. He’s also attributed to making the Celtic cross. He added a sun to the regular cross, since pagans worshipped the sun.

Why not try some of these Irish-inspired goodies today?

Yes, they do all contain booze (and plenty of calories). But loosen up and join the craic!

Guinness Chocolate Cake Recipe


Jameson Irish Whiskey Cake Recipe


Baileys Cheesecake Recipe


baileys banan colada cocktail

Bailey’s Banana Colada Cocktail


sona lá st Pádraig!





What is Kokumi? #savoury #flavour

What is Kokumi? Could it be some kind of Japanese tea; an electronic pet that you need to try to keep alive; or some elaborate type of paper-folding?

The answer is ‘none of the above’.  Kokumi is, in fact, a  potential flavour enhancer. Many of you will already be of the different types of taste: salt, sweet, sour and bitter and umami. Umami, which was discovered in 1908 by Dr Kikuna Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University, translates from the Japanese as ‘yummy deliciousness’ or ‘pleasant savoury taste.’ In around 2008 through studies on mice, scientists discovered that humans also have unique receptors on the tongue that respond to calcium – a potential sixth taste sensation – Kokumi.

The difference between umami and kokumi

Umami can be attributed to certain flavours – e.g. those that you might term ‘more-ish’ such as  parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, soy, mushrooms, cured meats, dried fish, other cheeses, slow cooked meats and vegetables, such as soups or broth. Kokumi, on the other hand, doesn’t have a specific flavour of its own. Instead it acts to increase the flavour in savoury dishes.

Dr David Baines , internationally-renowned flavourist and co-tutor of our annual ‘Creating Thermal Process Flavours’ course, says that if you include milk proteins and certain amino acids in a beef flavouring recipe the flavour can be enhanced in a similar way to monosodium glutamate (MSG). This is because the receptors in the tongue are responding to the calcium. A number of short peptides which respond to calcium can also act as a flavour enhancer. The best example of these is a reduced form of glutathione.

The dish in which umami was  first identified was a traditional Japanese fish soup containing fermented fish flakes. One of the best sources of the peptides  which give the kokumi reaction is milt – in other words fish sperm.

In this country, although we eat other parts of animals, we’re maybe not quite ready for fish sperm as an ingredient in our food. However, the good news is that we can activate the calcium receptors in our tongue and thus our enjoyment of savoury flavours with aged gouda instead of MSG in certain foods.

To find out more about our specialist course ‘Creating Thermal Process Flavours’, please click here. It runs from  23rd – 27th October 2017.


The location

No dingy and dull classrooms for Verner Wheelock delegates! Our bright, modern training facility is based in the picturesque setting of the historic Broughton Hall Estate in beautiful North Yorkshire. Parking on site is FREE and we are only a short taxi ride away from Skipton railway station.

Top class trainers

Paul Bache MBE

Trainer was fantastic. Well explained. Clear and concise. Will recommend.” TP
“I would recommend Peter and his style of training to anyone.” LM
“Excellent course! really interesting and informative.” CT
“Very well delivered. Good mix of slides, verbal information and group and individual work.” FC

Examination pass rates


We pride ourselves on the high examination pass rates achieved by our delegates. Previous delegates have won RSPH awards in Food Safety and HACCP for achieving the top grades in the country. In fact we had a 100% pass rate in the latest exam results for Level 3 HACCP – 22 passes and 11 distinctions.

The hospitality


People attending our courses often mention how friendly and helpful we are –  and they all agree that the refreshments we provide are really good. We believe that our delegates deserve better than a sad sausage roll and some crisps. Lunches are served at the award-winning Utopia eaterie on site. It’s set within a lovely walled garden, so you can enjoy both the homemade food and the view. If you’re lucky you might spot our resident peacocks.

The range of courses


VW logoEntry-level to Level 4 advanced courses in HACCP and Food Safety. Auditing Skills, Supplier Auditing, Lead Auditor and several specialist courses such as Managing Food Allergens, TACCP, VACCP, Root Cause Analysis and Creating Thermal Process Flavours – plus Refresher and Update courses and workshops throughout the year. Train here or at your own premises.


Since it includes several practical exercises, our annual ‘Creating Thermal Process Flavours’ course takes place in the Food Technology room at Ermysted’s Grammar School in Skipton, rather than at our premises on the Broughton Hall estate.

It’s an ideal facility. As well as being close to our offices, it’s also not too far from The Tempest Arms where our delegates stay for the duration. Over the past nine years, we have welcomed delegates from as far afield as India, Singapore and Brazil on to this specialist course.

show our appreciation to the school for allowing us to use their facilities during the October half-term holiday, we have presented Ermysted’s with a new set of aprons for their Food Technology classes. They are embroidered
with both the Verner Wheelock and the school logo. We think they look rather good – don’t you?

If you’re a flavourist and would like to find out more about our tenth Creating Thermal Process Flavours course, you’ll find all the information right here.


It’s probably a fair assumption to state that nobody really enjoys being audited. An audit is a disruption to the working day. Managers and supervisors are concerned that there might be non-conformances; and employees are nervous about being asked difficult questions.

There are 3 types of audit – internal audits, supplier audits and 3rd party audits (e.g. by customers, certification bodies such as the BRC, or Environmental Health Officers). If you’re responsible for performing an audit, whether it’s of your own company or an external company, the way you conduct yourself can have a huge impact on the amount and quality of information you can gather.

Here are some simple pointers to help your audit run more smoothly

  1. auditorDon’t create unnecessary barriers.

First impressions count, so don’t go in acting like a stern headmaster! You’ll find that people will respond far better if you appear relaxed and professional. Smile, shake hands if appropriate, make eye contact and be polite and confident.

  1. Accept hospitality during your audit

enjoy hospitality on your auditIt’s a small point, but if you’re offered tea, coffee or biscuits by an external company on arrival or in the opening meeting, accept them. It helps to set a relaxed tone.



  1. Don’t be a space invader

Remember – auditing is a two-way process. People can become intimidated if you invade their personal space. If they are backing away or leaning away from you it’s an indication that you’re standing too close. Keep a reasonable distance. You don’t want them to clam up during open questions or you might not elicit all the information you require.

  1. Think about your body language

try not to stareBody language can say a lot about you or the situation. Making eye contact with your auditee is very important, but do take care not to stare or it could make them feel self-conscious. We’ve already mentioned space invading, but at the other extreme try not to slouch or look around when the auditee is answering your questions. You need to make them feel fully engaged in what they’re telling you.



  1. And finally…

The single most important skill you have when auditing is listening and speaking. You have two ears and one mouth. Always aim to use them in that ratio.

Click here to find out about the auditing courses we offer.


Hooray! It’s Pancake Day! #pancakeday

Am I the only person who only ever thinks of making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? I’ve no idea why this is the case because every pancake day I remember how much I like them – especially with plenty of lemon juice and sugar.

What does ‘shrove’ mean?

Have you ever wondered what ‘shrove’ means? I’ve Googled it this year and apparently it’s taken from the word ‘shrive’, which meas ‘absolve’. So the whole idea is that believers should “make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with.”

Shrove Tuesday is, of course, the last day before Lent, when people traditionally give something up e.g. chocolate, alcohol, cakes – or beer, fags and rollerblading to quote a Father Ted episode. In other countries it’s called Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and is traditionally a way of eating up all the

Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), of course signals the last day before Lent. It was traditionally a day of gorging on fatty food before the fasting period of Lent begins – hence the pancakes.

Below are a couple of simple pancake recipes for you to try – but remember, food safety first – if you toss them onto the floor or they stick on the ceiling, throw them in the bin (if the dog doesn’t get to them first…).

Easy pancake recipe


100g flour

2 large eggs

300ml milk

Oil for frying (sunflower or olive oil)

Pinch of salt

Obviously, wash your hands, put on an apron and tie any long hair back before you start. Then:

Whisk flour eggs and milk together and add a pinch of salt.

Take a non-stick skillet and add a few drops of oil.

Heat the pan until it is so hot the oil is smoking.

Then take a cupful of mixture and and pour it into the pan. Tilt the pan until the whole surface is covered with the mixture.

Leave it on the heat for a minute or so. Lift the pancake using a palette knife to see if it is cooked underneath.

When cooked on one side, make sure it is not sticking to the pan and then TOSS THE PANCAKE IN THE AIR and catch it in the pan, ready to cook the other side.

Ta –dah! Tip onto a plate and add whatever topping you choose.

Easy Gin and Tonic pancake recipe






100g flour

2 large eggs

300ml milk

Oil for frying (sunflower or olive oil)

Pinch of salt

120g chocolate

Pour a large glass of gin and tonic. Drink it.

Pour another. Drink it.

Forget about pancake mixture.

Watch box set. Eat chocolate.

Happy pancake day, everyone!