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SOFHT Luncheon

Order of the day: arrival, networking, presentation by Kate Quilton, interview/Q&A, more networking, lunch with magical entertainment, awards, raffle and finally an amazing auction in aid of Cystic Fibrosis UK.

The day got off to a good start arriving on time and ready to meet many new people. Our Global Technical Hygiene Specialist Catherine Watkinson arrived and introduced us to Garry Dennis from SOFHT, who was to join us on our table for lunch. 

After some time enjoying a coffee and networking while waiting for everyone else to arrive, we headed up to The Porter Tun room at The Brewery (where we learned that it used to be filled with large alcohol kegs back when it was an actual brewery) to sit down for a presentation by TV’s Kate Quilton. Kate is a producer, journalist and presenter, known from such Channel 4 shows as Food Unwrapped and World’s Best Diet. 

Kate talked about a wide range of topics including breastfeeding (she’s a new mum and is actively trying to normalise it), how we get ‘jumbo’ prawns*, faecal transplants (we won’t go into much detail, but it does pretty much what it says on the tin – you can get a transplant of faecal matter from a patient with good gut bacteria to increase your own levels of good gut bacteria, which can potentially save lives) and more. What a start to the day!

Kate also brought up the topic of the digital world and how social media in particular (alongside television programmes such as Food Unwrapped, Inside the Factory, and various other diet and health related shows) have pushed the food industry into the public spotlight in a relatively short timeframe.

Celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Matt Tebbutt, and social media stars such as Joe Wicks and Deliciously Ella have brought healthy eating and cooking from scratch right into your home and your hands and they’ve had a tremendous effect on exposing the so called ‘health benefits’ of many foods and food groups. There are many claims for bettering your health, from going gluten free to reducing dairy intake, to carb cycling and even eliminating carbs altogether (who knew there were so many health trends?!).

Kate noted that the upswing in food trends portrayed on social and other digital media will have likely led to an upswing in the food we buy. With the new and growing interest in knowing where our food comes from, this upswing has had a huge impact on the way food manufacturing companies have had to react. They’ve had to become more transparent.

It was also mentioned that people are, or certainly used to be, disconnected from where their food comes from, opting for convenience over quality and knowledge. This digital surge of food-related media has likely had an impact on people’s awareness of where their food comes from, how it’s produced, and ultimately, what we’re actually eating (which links back to the point made in the previous paragraph, that every company in the food industry needs to be transparent.)
One of the questions arising from the Q&A session after Kate’s presentation nodded to the rise of food trends, like veganism, free-from, etc., and the link to real health benefits and misinformation or ‘fake news’. As you are probably aware, there is a significant amount of fake, or misinterpreted ‘news’ out there, and this is no different in the food industry. There have been many claims stating that one food group is bad, and you shouldn’t consume it, or that this one food will help you lose weight; the list goes on. The food industry is beginning to react to this situation with insightful and scientific information proving these trends either fake, or just misinterpreted, but it’s just a case of getting through the vast digital noise that is already out there to educate people about the benefits, dangers, fun facts and other useful information about the food that we’re eating.

Interestingly, there weren’t very many questions coming from the audience during the Q&A but the ones asked were certainly thought-provoking. Have you seen a food trend related image or article on your social media feeds? Was it a positive message, a message trying to engage you or trying to get you to click through, or just a fact?

After the presentation and Q&A session, our guests for the day, Paula Boult, Head of Technical from BV Dairy, Sarah Howard, Head of Technical at Noble foods (Shell Egg Division), Andrew Bosman, Process Engineer at Campden BRI and Garry Dennis, board member at SOFHT and auditor joined us for the champagne and networking session before we returned to The Porter Tun room for lunch and some magical entertainment.

We were provided with a three-course meal for lunch – a delicious butternut squash soup starter, a wonderful lamb dish for the main course (a vegetarian option was also available) and a beautiful apple tarte tatin for dessert. During and after lunch, we enjoyed some magical entertainment. We watched coins and wedding rings disappear, half full wine bottles ‘fall’ through the table (there definitely was no hole in that table) and of course, some incredible card tricks, all performed by these amazing magicians.

After lunch we were treated to an exciting awards ceremony for the best in the industry, from Best Company to Best Auditor. Hillbrush also sponsored the award for the Best Trainer, which was won by Dave Griffin from STS Solutions. Catherine Watkinson, our Global Technical Hygiene Specialist was also a finalist in the award category for Best Food Technologist! Unfortunately, she was pipped to the post by one of the other Technologists, but it’s safe to say that all the finalists were in very close contention this year. The winners this year were all well-deserved and we are now looking forward to next year’s awards, to hopefully sponsoring another one and maybe even winning some ourselves.

Following the awards came the raffle and auction, including prizes such as a 2-night stay on a luxury yacht hotel moored in London’s Royal Victoria dock and a signed Chelsea Football Club, official match football. All in all, the raffle, auction and other donations totalled an incredible £6,700 to be donated to Cystic Fibrosis Care UK – a wonderful and well deserving charity doing some incredible work for those who are suffering and their families.

After the excitement of the magicians, the awards, the raffle and the auction came the end of a very enjoyable and productive day. We’re thrilled to have been able to host a table as a new SCM (supporting company member) and look forward to the next year as part of the SOFHT family.

*In case you wanted to know how we get jumbo prawns: the large males are put in the tanks with the females, but for the females to release their eggs for the male to fertilise in a non-conventional, non-calm setting, they must release a stress hormone. How does that happen you might be asking? The prawn farmers pluck out the females’ eyes, one at a time. We were told that scientists have discovered that prawns don’t feel pain so it’s apparently okay for this to happen…!

Let us know what you think of these incredible food unwrapped revelations, about your digital and social media interactions with the food industry in all its forms by using our sharing buttons to share on social media.





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