College catering: students, staff and the ethics of what we eat

Bradford College runs a number of catering and hospitality courses: they are practical and popular, with numbers rising rapidly both in further and higher education.

Our catering staff and students also run two restaurants and a café on the College campus, open to everyone. They provide catering for events of all sizes, mostly in the College. This gives the students some great hands-on experience, and helps generate some revenue for the catering courses.

IMG_1127Aidan James (pictured above) is the College’s Restaurant Manager and Trainer. He has a degree and MPhil in catering management, and worked in the food and beverage industry before joining the College seven years ago to teach catering and manage our restaurants and cafes. He talked to me about the ethical issues that the catering team faces.

“It’s an exciting time,” Aidan says. “When our new £50 million eco-friendly building opens in September 2014, the main restaurant and cafeteria will be in the central entrance area, really well placed to welcome people in, and with lovely views of the new green area outside.” At the same time, Aidan explains, the additional College cafes which are currently run by an external contractor will all become College-run, giving the students more opportunities for valuable work experience and hopefully generating income for the College.

Food supply
Aidan says that the catering team have to balance a number of factors when sourcing food. “We want to stay local, so we lessen the fuel miles and help support local employment and business. We need value for money, so we can keep costs down for the College and our customers. And we want quality.

“So we tend to get our fresh fruit and veg from the wholesale market in St James’s, off Wakefield Road. Our meat comes in part from a local supplier, and from Sykes House Farm which provides high quality and is supportive to our students, who can visit their butchery department and slaughter house.”

Dry goods, wines and spirits mostly come from a large national company with a local depot, because of the good prices. “However, we are always reviewing this,” Aidan adds. “And we are about to switch to Fair Trade tea and coffee, and that will come from a Bradford company.”

Aidan explains that there are real risks in the food trade. “They include poor quality, passing off and adulterated food. So we want the students to be aware of the positive choices that can be made, and of the risks you need to be alert to. High standards are key. Once we are running all the College food and refreshment outlets we will have more buying clout, which will help us get quality produce at a reasonable price.

Grow your own
“The other area we hope to expand is getting the students and staff involved in growing food. We already have a small allotment, but with the new building there will be new opportunities. And we are next door to the University of Bradford which is doing a great job in this respect, so we hope to strengthen our links.”

Healthy eating and dietary requirements
“Eating healthy food is important – and new information and requirements are always emerging,” Aidan says. “This summer we’ve consulted with our customers who have special dieteray requirements to find out how we can better meet their needs.” The team are introducing a more flexible menu as a result. They are also looking at possibly having two main teaching kitchens in the new building, one halal and one non-halal.

“It’s a hard juggling act getting the menu right! In addition to ensuring meals are healthy and meet particular needs, we want to cover the curriculum, provide affordable food, be ethical, and minimise waste.”

Experience and enrichment
Aidan finishes by saying that another important goal is to give the students experience that widen their horizons. “We find opportunities for our students to meet the suppliers – most recently we went to visit a rhubarb farm in Tong, he says. “Also, the College is one of the main sponsors of the annual World Curry Festival, and our students volunteer to help run this each year as well as take part as contestants.” There has been a ‘food not waste‘ campaign, and now a team of staff and students provides an annual staff barbecue.

Aidan (at the back on the right) with catering students and staff.

Aidan (at the back on the right) with catering students and staff.

Finally, the team recently addressed the growing work load by taking on two catering apprentices, building in a range of work experience and training. They are ready for expansion!

The College Ethics Guided Walk, May 2013

The College Ethics blog is delighted to have led the first College Ethics walk – to mark national walking month and the start of the Global Corporate Challenge. You can find out about our walk in the slideshow below, and there’s also a short audio clip about Doris Birdsall and some useful links. Thanks to everyone who took part.

Listen to a recording of Sandra Vine-Jenkins and Jillian Mercer remembering Doris:

Other useful links:

Ethical biscuits: palm oil

Thanks to:

  • Our experts, Dr Susan Boyce, Ben Tongue, Ian Brown, Sandra Vine-Jenkins, Jillian Mercer, Neil Moore, Pam Sheldon
  • Our Walking Champion, Jonathan Curtis

The walkers:

Susan Boyce – Ed Briggs – Zoe Corcoran – Jonathan Curtis – York Dixon – Joanne Fawthrop – Gail Hall – Gail Holmes – Emma Haycock – Susan Houlbrook – Vanessa Hutchison – Julia Kendall – Maria Mousawi – Linda Taglione – Ben Tongue – Sandra Vine-Jenkins – Fran Walker – Andy Welsh – Ruth Wilson

Text by Ruth Wilson, images by Ruth Wilson and Jonathan Curtis, Bradford College

The ultimate in recycling: the ethical re-use of human tissue

Next door to Bradford College, on the top floor of a secure building on the University of Bradford campus, is a unique service: Ethical Tissue.

Ethical Tissue: a secure space on the top floor of the Institute for Cancer Therapies, University of Bradford

Ethical Tissue: a secure space on the top floor of the Institute for Cancer Therapies, University of Bradford

It responds to requests from researchers for human tissue, and it stores tissue for biomedical research. Ethical Tissue is unique in providing a primary source of tissue solely for research purposes.

There are important ethical issues in human tissue donation and use, so I went to talk to Dr Susan Boyce about the work of her team. Although they deal with many requests for tissue in a year and have thousands of samples serving multiple uses, the space is surprisingly compact: a small office, and a laboratory where the samples are stored and prepared, and just three members of staff delivering the service: Susan (Head of Ethical Tissue), Senior Scientist Wayne Burrill, and Khadeja Suleman, Research Nurse.

First, Susan provided a definition of tissue: “Tissue is anything that contains human cells – that might be substantial body parts, small slithers of flesh, or blood, urine and so on.”

Susan then explained what makes Ethical Tissue special: “Being a primary source of tissue means we are involved in finding potential donors, meeting them, explaining what is needed, and getting their consent.”

Dr Susan Boyce in the Ethic Tissue laboratory.

Dr Susan Boyce in the Ethic Tissue laboratory.

photo

Senior Scientist Wayne Burrill.

“Nearly everyone has something to give,” Susan says. “Sometimes we need donors with particular conditions, or from particular ethnic groups. Sometimes we need normal tissue. We usually get a very good response. Nearly everyone we ask says yes they want to help researchers. We are always very grateful when people do decide to donate.”

The legal requirements are covered by the Human Tissue Act and regulated by the Human Tissue Authority :

Relevance:  The tissue has to be collected for relevant research. In most cases, the research is providing new insight into medical conditions, or helping with the development of treatment.

Donor consent: Samples must be provided with the informed consent of the donor. “You own your body tissue,” Susan says, “and you have the right to say what happens to your tissue during life and after death.”

Securing consent means accepting without pressure someone’s decision not to donate. Most people are very keen to help: we are hardly ever turned down. None of the major faiths have an objection to tissue donation. Sometimes people are facing complex and serious operations and they do not want to consider donation. This is of course acceptable, we always respect the wishes of the individual.“

Informed consent: Another important ethical aspect of consent is that the donor understands the purpose of the donation, and can ask for further information if they want. Not everyone is capable of informed consent: “We do not take consent from vulnerable adults ” Susan says. “We take samples from children if the parents consent, and if the child actively assents.  The next of kin can consent following the death of a patient – this does not delay the funeral arrangements.”

Generalised consent: “When people donate tissue to a tissue bank, they cannot specify what they want the samples used for,” Susan says. “They cannot request or rule out a particular kind of research. But sometimes we are able to tell them if there is a specific research project involved, and they can read the findings if they want when those are made public.”

Not for profit: “We make it very clear that there is no financial element for the donor. This is an altruistic gift,” Susan says. In addition, the service only seeks to recover costs from the researchers that it helps. “This applies whether our client is a public sector or charity researcher or a large pharmaceutical company developing a drug. We are heavily funded by the University, and this enables us to provide the service at a cost which enable research to go ahead.”

Anonymity, confidentiality and security: Every tissue donation is unique and is assigned a number, so the database is anonymous. The donor names are never stored on a computer. The samples and all records are in a highly secure, restricted access building and office, with any sensitive information kept in locked filing cabinets.

Timeliness and optimisation: If somebody gives tissue it will often be with the researcher very soon after, or it may be optimised – this means that the tissue can be used in several ways, to minimise waste and increase utility.

Deciding which research requests to respond to: “We don’t decide who gets what tissue,” Susan says. “We have independent scientific advisers (ISACs), all reputable and appropriate experts, and they decide which research requests we should respond to. We never meet the ISACs. This means we don’t send tissue to projects run by our friends, and we can’t favour investigations into health issues we are particularly concerned about.”

Validity of the research requests: “The research must be relevant and reasonable, the standing of the researcher must be acceptable, and they must have sufficient funding to complete,” Susan explains. It is the role of the ISACs to determine whether this is the case.

Dr Susan Boyce, Head of Ethical Tissue

Dr Susan Boyce,

Susan Boyce is a clinical scientist with a PhD in neuroscience. She began her career working in a burns unit in the NHS. She then moved on to set up a skin bank for therapeutic transplantation at the University of Sheffield, before coming to lead Ethical Tissue at Bradford.

“This is the ultimate in re-cycling,” Susan says. “It is very ethical. It gives you relevant results that are for the benefit of all.”