Student provides SALSA boost for UK microfood producer

Tue, 01 Dec 2020 16:19:00 GMT
Carra got information for her virtual placement through emails and images of the work environment
Carra got information for her virtual placement through emails and images of the work environment

A virtual placement has led to a GCU student providing the key ingredients for both personal and business development.

MSc Food Bioscience student Carra Cassidy was given the opportunity to take part in an 11 week online placement with a UK microfood producer that specialise in vegan products.

During her time there she developed a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) plan which led to the company receiving accreditation from SALSA, a national food safety approval scheme.

Carra, who can’t name the company for confidentiality reasons, explained more about the online experience and her initial thoughts about completing a virtual placement.

She said: “This was part of our MSc placement module and we had been planning on doing a summer placement on site but because of coronavirus it became a remote placement.

I was very lucky because I know other Masters students from Universities who just had to give up placement and do a project instead. Thankfully our lecturers worked really hard to get us the opportunity, which has given us valuable experience.”

Carra added: “At first I was a bit apprehensive, I felt really lucky to get one but I recognised the whole experience would be different.

The main thing I worked on was the HACCP plan, as well as other safety documents. Basically what I was doing was looking at each step in the production process and putting measures in place to make sure they are up to the SALSA standard and that food safety is kept up throughout.

Communication during the placement was primarily through email and I had to be quite concise with our questions because obviously they were running their normal operations. Sometimes I would ask for images of the work environment which definitely helped quite a lot.”

In recognition of her efforts with the HACCP plan, Carra went on to win Best Student in GCU’s MSC Bio Suite of Programmes.

She explained her delight at picking up the award and also wanted to tell other students not to be put off at the thought of a virtual placement.

Carra said: “I was really pleased to receive the recognition, because I worked hard during the placement.

I’m proud to have played my part overall in this whole process because I do really believe the product the company have created is great.”

She added: “I would say not to be put off by the thought of it being completed online. It’s important to have a plan in place for each day and just to treat it as if you were completing a normal work day on site – that really helped me.

It’s also vital to keep good communication open with the people you’re working with and any mentors you’re given.”

By Ross Clark
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