Job title: 3rd YEAR APPRENTICE



I wake to my alarm clock, have a quick wash and leave home at 6.20am for the 12-mile journey to work. Arriving at the factory, I creak up the stairs in my motorbike leathers.


Before my day starts, I enjoy a quick chill in the canteen and a bit of a chat with my mates, catching up with what’s been going on.


I walk down to the technical department, where I currently work as part of my training programme, and start my working day by baking-off and testing savoury products from the previous shift’s production run.

The ovens I use are convection, which are the same type used in our shops. This means any problems are easily identified before they can happen in the shops.

Depending on what was produced the night before, I could be baking-off mini or jumbo sausage rolls, large and mini corned beef pasties or chicken bakes. Once baked, I check the following specifications: size, using Vernier callipers to ensure product is within agreed parameters; colour, checking quality and evenness of glaze; filling, including both distribution and colour; quality of seal, to avoid ‘boil-out’ of the filling; and weight, to ensure product is within agreed weight levels.

The great thing about bake-off is I can test the products, thus saving money on breakfast. Any quality issues with samples are reported to the savoury department manager and the quality assurance manager, so that immediate action can be implemented, such as product recall or any technical or mechanical problems.


Breakfast is usually a full English, but I do my body and soul some good by accompanying this with a pint of milk – or so I tell myself!


I collect samples from around the bakery for microbiological testing. These are sent to our sister company at Balliol Park in Newcastle, where they have their own labs. Types of samples I collect can include: raw chicken, bacon or mince; cream, both whipped and un-whipped; custard; and egg glaze. These are all high-risk foods, which are sampled on a weekly basis to ensure no food is used or sent from our factory that could cause any potential harm to our customers. There is a rolling programme to ensure no food slips through undetected.

I also have the job of doing personnel swabs, which include swabbing, at random, operators’ hands to ensure high levels of personal hygiene. I have a list of areas to cover, which include all production departments as well as the canteen staff.

I also swab equipment, including mixer bowls, paddles, utensils, trays and hoppers to name a few. All swabs are sent away to our labs for testing and we receive the results within three days. Then, if time allows, I have a 20-minute break.


Next comes the quality ring-around. As we have 115 shops, it would take forever to ring them all, so each shop has a base shop to which it can report any quality issues.

Thankfully, I only have 11 shops to call, although I do have a laugh with the shop staff while making the calls. When on ring-around, any issues – both good and bad – are logged onto a report sheet if they occur more than five times. This report is then sent to the relevant management of Greggs, including the factory manager, sales manager and, of course, the production managers.

I may also handle any customer complaints during the day, but these are usually few and far between. Any issues that require action are reported back to the technical department and monitored for repeat occurrences.


Time for a half-hour lunch break and I usually choose a healthy option – such as chips or beef burgers! Following that, I start to input some of the technical data into the technical department database. This includes the check-weigh results, the swabbing and sampling results, quality reporting and ensuring all paperwork is signed and dated.

I then carry out a glass and clear plastic audit across a production department to ensure no contamination of our products, then type up the audit results and forward these to the chief engineer, hygiene and quality assurance departments, for any further action to be taken.

An added advantage of working in the technical department is we can taste the samples produced from the new product development department.


My final break, before completing another savoury bake-off procedure to ensure that, this time, the day shift’s products are up to scratch. I input data and findings into the computer to start the process all over again.


Finally leave for home. I’m usually quicker at getting ready for home than I am getting ready for work!