Opinion: Julian Edwards FCSI

The chair of FCSI UK & Ireland discusses recent events in the division and exciting future plans

It’s been a great year for FCSI UK & Ireland. We’ve got so much going on and we’re having good fun too. FCSI is getting stuck into things.

We recently participated in the ‘Call to Arms’ event with the NHS Packaging Task Force, an initiative focusing on packaging in the retail sector. It was held at the University of Reading with colleagues from NHS, British Dental Association, Hospital Caterers Association and The National Association of Care Caterers (NACC). It was a call to action to make packaging easier to open for infirm or less dextrous people, particularly those on a hospital ward. The end game is to eliminate food waste with unopened packaging being needlessly thrown away as well as making life a bit easier for people!

When we heard about the event we offered our full support to it. FCSI should have a strong voice and contribute to these types of discussions. Many of our members are setting specifications for business operators so they are effectively answering the needs and desires for the future in this sector. That’s why we need to get involved and be at the forefront of events such as this.

We need to make our voice heard in issues such as sustainability, salt/ fat/sugar reduction in food, allergens and nutrition. We have an opportunity to lobby and influence important legislation as well as to simply share good ideas and best practice models across a number of foodservice sectors – from healthcare to business and industry (B&I).

Cutting-edge innovation

I recently had the privilege of being part of the judging panel for The Caterer’s annual Product Awards, which will take place in December this year. As we debated the entries and looked at their individual merits, it gave me a fascinating insight into the level of innovation that is currently on the market.

In just the ‘Waste Management’ category alone, I got to see the benefits of a range of products, from large waste units capable of processing 700kg of waste, to advanced grease traps and sophisticated kitchen waste management systems. All of them could contribute tremendously to reducing waste in commercial kitchens. It was difficult to pick a winner, but it certainly got me thinking about how much more we can do to reduce waste in commercial kitchens, particularly in light of the recent spate of the enormous ‘fatbergs’ in London’s sewers.

To that end FCSI is setting up an exciting new Consultancy Task Force on fats, oils and grease (FOGs). I will be revealing more information on that at the forthcoming FCSI Education Afternoon on 
12 October 2017 at RSA House in London. It’s just one topic we will be covering at the event. Starting at 1.30pm, the afternoon will cover topics such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, technology, sustainability and women in hospitality and is the second of hopefully many more FCSI Education events to come.

We will have a presentation on commercial kitchen ventilation hosted by HMA Ventilation and supported by Plasma Clean, Trent Controls, Helios Fans and Amerex. Elior will give us an insight into their collaboration with Vita Mojo – an innovative new personalised menu service. There will be a perspective on women in hospitality, while there will also be a presentation on Eureka, a unique German system that cost-effectively collects the waste energy from kitchen refrigeration systems and cold rooms to provide free and zero-carbon potable hot water for use within a catering facility.

I know from the success of our first FCSI Education event that these events are hugely beneficial to both Professional FCSI members and Allied members too. It’s a great learning experience in a relaxed environment and you can absorb an awful lot of information on the day, all of which will be backed up with full PowerPoint presentations on our website.

Increased collaboration

We are working hard to encourage more collaboration with the industry than ever before. FCSI’s neutral positioning when it comes to working with equipment manufacturers ensures that we can be both supportive and critical of what we see. I believe our role is a bit like being a school governor – we sit in the middle of the industry and that means that no other organisation can rival us for our objective, critical opinion.

It also means we are able to bring industry partners together and communicate with them independently. It means we can play a significant role in major international trade shows such as HostMilano 2017, which I will be attending later this month, as well as nationally relevant events run by our sister, UK-focused bodies, such as Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA) and Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA).

We need to get even more organised with regards to our industry collaboration. There is so much more we can do and I encourage members to take a more active role to help us get our message out there. You get out of FCSI what you put in, so please let me know if you’d like to get more involved to help us share, support and inspire others in the industry.

Julian Edwards FCSI