What do you think of when you hear Food Standards Agency? What kind of work do you think we do? Let two of our senior field operatives shed a little light on the wider work carried out in our organisation.
Joan Bricall – Lead Veterinarian, North Scotland
Hailing from Barcelona – where he studied for his veterinary degree – Joan enjoys the ‘one of us’ feeling he gets from living and working in Scotland. Having lived and worked as a veterinarian here since 1999, Joan made a “big change” and began working for the Food Standards Agency in Scotland (FSAS) a year and a half ago. “One of the challenges is educating,” he comments, “I try to educate food business operators to improve and to higher their standards in order to stand out.” Responsible for giving technical advice, ensuring compliance with legislation, animal welfare and a host of other duties in the North of Scotland, there is a lot of information that needs to be communicated to a lot of businesses –but the FSAS gives him the support he needs. “One of the best aspects is the team,” he explains “we’re all in the same boat and rowing together – it’s nice, I like that.” Joan is keen to share his experience for the consideration of any vets to be, “I try my best to encourage veterinary students see the possibilities of working in meat hygiene rather than medicine – there’s a career opportunity there for you to explore.”
Robert Muir – Service Delivery Manager, South East Scotland
Robert may have started in the meat trade working in his uncle’s butchers shop, but he’s worked his way up to being a service delivery manager in the FSAS. Having been in the business a long time, he’s quick to point out there’s more to the industry than you may think. “It’s not just about standing in abattoirs now,” he underlines, listing animal feed,eggs, dairy hygiene and shellfish as other areas demanding FSAS attention. He also emphasises the importance of campylobacter and ecoli sampling for people studying in food hygiene or microbiology – “there’s lots of stuff coming on board.” It’s not all science either; as someone who deals with food business operators throughout South East Scotland, Robert highlights the need for people skills. The challenge comes in talking to colleagues at different levels, from work forces at meat plants to senior delivery managers at monthly meetings. “You try and build up a relationship,” he explains. Robert relishes his different dealings, which see him meeting different people in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, “which a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to do.” How else would he try and sell a career in the meat hygiene industry? Simple. “If you’re willing to work hard enough, you’re going to get yourself up the ladder.”