When London-based speciality pie maker The Harry Pie Store was successful in securing a listing with Waitrose, one of the requirements was to undertake a certification programme in order that they could demonstrate traceability at every step of the production process.
The family business which was built around an original recipe for a leek tart known as a ‘Flamiche aux Poireaux’ from the region of Picardy in France offers six pie products including Tomato & Mozzarella; Leek; Carrot, Orange and Ginger; Mushroom; Provençal and Salmon & Dill. All products are finished frozen for bake-off, either by the end consumer at home, or by the retailer and sold from the deli counter. Harry’s Pie Store also supplies a number of farm shops and delicatessens.
The product listing with Waitrose for four products from the range meant that The Harry Pie Store had to ensure that its food safety procedures were correctly documented as Claude Harry, who is joint owner with his wife Jenny Harry, explains:
“As a small business – there is only my wife and I – and our first step into supplying a retailer, the prospect of having to meet the requirements of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) standard, a usual requirement was a daunting prospect. While demonstrating compliance of food safety requirements is of course essential for any size of food business, conventional food safety schemes seemed too ‘heavy duty’ and time consuming for us.”
“Waitrose is a supporter of SOFHTe Certification, which is a web based certification scheme designed especially for small businesses like us, and in contrast with other programmes designed for small food businesses, this scheme is less expensive and less onerous. The increase in demand for locally sourced products by many retailers means it makes sense to have a nationally recognised certification programme but designed for the needs of a small business. SOFHTe certification gives us confidence in our product, and we always mention it when introducing the pies to a new customer.”
The SOFHTe certification standard covers the whole range of issues relevant to running a successful food manufacturing process from products, storage and delivery, HACCP and staff training, to the working environment, hygiene including handwashing and dealing with customer complaints and product recall. The participating company completes detailed questionnaires on its business procedures which are audited by experts at SOFHT. On-site audits are made on a random basis so food businesses need to ensure that their on-line answers are accurate and up to date.
The Harry Pie Store was awarded with the Society of Food Hygiene Technology’s (SOFHT) ‘Most Innovative SOFHTe Certification Scheme Member’ at its 2011 Awards.