On the second day of the most recent PIP event the group looked at innovations in the egg processing sector. James Porter, a poultry producer from a family business in the East Midlands, producing over one million broilers a year, reports on the visit to Bumble Hole Foods Ltd. James said:
I work on the farm at home, which is mixed consisting of arable cropping, pig keeping, broiler chickens and a commercial feed mill. I work in all aspects of the farm learning as much as I can in the process. I chose to do the NFU’s Poultry Industry Programme to increase my knowledge of the poultry element of our business and to be enlightened by all the different parts of the industry. As a member of the NFU I am also finding out about all the different and useful things the organisation does on behalf of farmers.
On day two of the second PIP event we were taken on a trip to Bumble Hole Foods Ltd in Worcestershire. This is an egg processing factory which produces liquid and boiled eggs for the catering sector. This family owned business was originally egg packers in the 1960’s and moved into processing in 1973.
After the introduction by Terry Stokes the Commercial Director we were shown around the factory. The process in which they crack eggs then filter the liquid egg to make sure there is no shell left in the mixture was fascinating. After this process the egg is pasteurised where it is heated to between 66 and 68 degrees centigrade for 23 seconds. This must be carefully controlled because if the temperature is too high the egg will solidify (scramble) in the pipeline. If the temperature is too low the egg will not be pasteurised which could cause food poisoning. The egg is bagged into different sized bags from 1 kilo up to 1 tonne. The business also uses an egg white separator. It separates the yolks for use in products such as burgers and the whites for food such as meringues. Up to 250 tonnes of liquid egg can be processed per week in this plant.
We were then taken to the area where eggs are boiled. Here they can boil up to 2,500 eggs per day. After boiling the eggs they are cooled rapidly before being de-shelled. The prepared eggs are used for food products such as scotch eggs and egg mayonnaise for sandwiches. Interestingly scotch eggs are one way to use the small eggs which are produced but not utilised for shell eggs at retail. Less meat is required to wrap round a smaller egg which is ideal for producing scotch eggs.
We made our way back to the conference room via the laboratory. Here we found out about the strict keeping of paperwork, tracking back every day’s use of eggs. The company also carry out tests regularly looking at the pH levels and for any bacterial contamination in the liquid egg.
On returning to the conference room we were treated to a snack of scrambled egg which was produced by a vending machine taking just 30 seconds to produce. The machine is a relatively new innovation available in hospitals and football grounds. It provides a fast-food option for a protein snack which is ideal for sports professionals and those who are time pressured. The machine uses liquid egg and has an option to add seasonings. Alongside a plain serving of original scrambled egg, we tried bacon, parsley and onion and a sweeter option… chocolate! The latter was a rather surprising taste to what we were expecting!
To end the day and our focus on the catering and food service sectors we had a very interesting talk from Helen Hunt, NFU Food Chain Adviser. Helen talked about how the NFU work with the major food service companies and big named brands and also focus on the correct labelling and promotion of British products. We finished with a quick ‘who wants to be a millionaire?’ quiz which was good fun and tested our knowledge of the food and farming sector!