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Recipe formulation and ingredient traceability systems.

THE Stevens' Groups' Recipe Formulation System is once again aiding in the role of ensuring batch consistency and 100% traceability, this time at food manufacturer Loxton Foods.

Stockport-based Loxton Foods, who operate from their new EEC approved Food Development and Production facility which has been awarded the BRC Standard--Higher Level, specialise in the production of high quality recipe dishes to the foodservice market. Their vast range of products includes side dishes, soups and sauces, as well as a delicious menu of main courses, for example the Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto, which earned the company a Bronze Award at the recent BFFF Annual Awards.

Loxton Foods was set up in 1986 and has grown each year, now employing 65 people with an approximate turnover of 5.5m [pounds sterling].

The award-winning chefs, led by Managing Director Paul Durbin, promote the company's ethos of innovation in recipe development, along with ensuring only the freshest and highest quality ingredients are used. For example, Loxtons are currently putting their focus on their range of vegetarian dishes with the launch of two well-known classics; Ricotta Cannelloni with Goats Cheese & Spinach and Bean, Celery & Coriander Chilli.

The fact that all dishes are prepared by hand and require a number of different ingredients, can pose difficulties in keeping track of individual amounts used and that correct quantities are added to ensure a consistent product. The Stevens Group have extensive knowledge and experience in this area and their recipe formulation system has been developed to provide a complete recipe management, stock control and traceability system, virtually eliminating time-consuming paper based systems.

Stevens' UK Sales Manager Stuart Hunt explains the advantages of the system: "Our units are far more than weighing scales and offer the ultimate in flexibility, ease-of-use and reliability for a wide range of weighing applications. The fully sealed and water-proof operator console can withstand wash-down routines making the system ideally suited to the environments found in modern food manufacturing establishments."

Ingredients weights can vary from 5g up to 100kg and have the option of 6kg, 30kg & 1500kg capacity platforms at each recipe station, thus giving flexibility and precision for the widely differing target weights.

The formulae for particular products are entered into the PC Server via the recipe formulation management software. The system allows management to enter and determine the exact recipe characteristics, including individual ingredient tolerances and how the products are added. For instance, recipes may be a mixture of weighed and non-weighed ingredients where some products are added as pre-weighed blocks or bags.

The system calculates the amounts of individual ingredients needed and downloads the order to the relevant station, providing an effortless formulation process, with the large screen prompting the operator throughout as each correct amount of ingredient is added. The system will not allow the operator to continue if the incorrect ingredient is selected or the wrong amount added. Detailed instructions relating to product characteristics are also flagged up to ensure adequate H&S requirements are met.

The Vantage Recipe Formulation System can produce an impressive range of reports, giving a detailed and instant view of the operation at any given time. Typical reporting data relates to individual ingredient usage, recipe consistency, stock control and production yield.

Managing Director, Paul Durbin explains the benefits his company has seen since the implementation of the system: "The Stevens system gives us full control and confidence of all our raw material usage to meet our standard costings and enhance further our high quality finished products. The system is simple to use and the after sales service is excellent."

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Title Annotation:equipment & services
Publication:Frozen & Chilled Foods
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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