(L-R) Yuan Zhai, John Husband and Dr Derek Watson with the trip's other delegates
(L-R) Yuan Zhai, John Husband and Dr Derek Watson with the trip's other delegates

Sunderland academic showcases safety model for China’s biggest food producers

Bosses from the biggest food producers in China recently invited a Sunderland academic to showcase his innovative food safety business model.

Dr Derek Watson, from the University of Sunderland, has created a positive food safety culture geared towards manufacturers.

It uses the ‘enlighten’ industry-based model, which puts business practices under the microscope and lays the foundations for them to be run more efficiently.

The model is already used by manufacturers from Central America to Greece. And it recently caught the attention of The Food Federation of Inner Mongolia – an organisation representing 2,000 of China’s largest food manufacturers – after Dr Watson’s Chinese PhD student Yuan Zhai brokered the connection.

Dr Watson embarked on a week-long visit to China with John Husband, e-learning director at North East food safety training business totrain.

They presented their collaborative ‘enlighten’ model to senior executives from a number of Chinese manufacturers, including billion-dollar milk business Yili and £60m-turnover food producer Mengliang.

Dr Watson, a senior lecturer in the University of Sunderland’s Institute of Business, Law and Tourism, said: “All of the companies we met already had good quality systems in place but once they began to understand the process of what we were telling them they could see the benefits and improvements that could be made with ‘enlighten’ and were keen to learn more.

“The success of our visit has led to a programme of activity planned with the Federation which will support their expansion plans which they anticipate will lead to their approval of the British Retail Consortium Global Food Standards, the market-leading global brand that helps build confidence in the supply chain – it really is the gold standard in this industry.”

Plans are now being formalised for Federation members to come to the UK, where they will undertake company visits to observe management systems and participate in a management training programme at the University of Sunderland.

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