IFST Eastern Branch

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The Eastern counties of England have for many years provided students and graduates of food science with the possibility to continue their education at one of many esteemed centres of learning or take employment with and develop their careers furthering the success of food production businesses right across the region.

A handful of individuals have already expressed interest in trying to establish a vibrant network for the support and guidance of any member, in education or industry, across the Region by getting the Eastern Branch up and running again. If you would also like to help, even by just suggesting ideas for ways in which the Eastern Branch could be useful to you in your current role, then please contact Erin Taylor (email E.Taylor@ifst.org ).

Meet the Committee

Here's your opportunity to find out more about the members involved in the Eastern Branch Committee

Steve Timms - Chair of IFST Eastern BranchSteve Timms (Chair)

I have my roots in East Anglia. I was educated here, spent the early years of my career in the region and now am back living in the region with a passion to re-launch the Eastern Branch. I was inspired by the IFST almost 40 years ago to take the right ‘O’ levels that would start me on the road to my food career, the IFST has supported me throughout the intervening years and now I feel it is time to give something back. I am a trained food chemist, I have worked in research and industry and currently serve on the IFST’s Education and Careers Committee, helping to enthuse youngsters to follow a career path centred around food whether it be technical, manufacturing, research, regulatory or in academia. I believe I bring to the committee a vision of a vibrant, diverse, well networked Branch that I will work tirelessly and diligently to make reality to support all those in the region who turn to IFST for guidance in their career choices, in the various stages of their professional development and in retirement those who would also like to give something back to the next generation of food professionals.

Carol RaithathaCarol Raithatha

I’m a consultant and director of Carol Raithatha Limited (www.carolraithatha.co.uk). The focus of my work is food and drink research that helps companies, research agencies and other organisations gain insight into products, consumers and markets. My specialist expertise includes sensory evaluation, consumer testing, market research, business to business research, and desk research. Having been involved with the IFST for many years, mostly with respect to the Sensory Science Group committee, it is nice to help get things going near to where I live.

The Eastern region is diverse and vibrant with lots of things happening in food, science, and education, so a great place for the IFST to promote itself and work with members. Being based in Norwich for almost twenty-five years, I hope to be able to bring local knowledge and some helpful ideas to the Eastern region committee, and am also looking forwards to meeting local food professionals and discovering more about what my region is up to!


Belinda ashongI pursued my first degree in Agricultural Science but it was during my final year dissertation practical sessions that I developed the passion for food science. My dissertation was about using solar dried cassava flour as a filler in frankfurter type sausage. I was intrigued by the whole experience, from sourcing raw materials, production to the organisation of sensory evaluation of the sausages. I followed it up with a master’s degree in Food Science at the University of Reading.

 I heard of IFST while in Reading but relocated to East Anglia shortly after finishing University. I looked into volunteering and came across the Eastern Region Branch of IFST and decided to get involved. IFST has provided me with up to date information on new techniques, technology, legislation and insight into the industry through the quarterly journal. There is also a lot of resource persons and mentors in the organisation. The technical visits has been educative and I feel now is time to share my experiences hence the volunteering.

I hope to use my knowledge and organisational skills in assisting young graduates in achieving their career ambitions in the food industry.


Robert Bowman, Conan Fryer, Siobhan Gardiner, Jeremy Hall, Tom Hollands, Philip Kitchin, Debra Smith, Andy Bowles, & Robert Winwood.

Upcoming Events in the Region

Upcoming Events for your Diary

View all IFST events


Find out what we've been up to

As a committee we are committed to ensuring that we have a full programme of events.  Equally, it's just as important to share with you our successes and what we've been up to!

Visit to National Collection of Yeast Cultures - 28 February 2017

Attendees: Stephen Timms, Jane Robertshaw, Carol Raithatha, Philip Bailey, Allan Gunning, John Harrison and Ayuen Lual.

The event was attended by seven eastern region members and congratulations to Ayuen for ‘winning’ the furthest to travel having endured the train ride from Oxford!

It was a very worthwhile and very interesting event hosted by NCYC (The National Collection of Yeast Cultures) which is based at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) which is part of the Norwich Research Park.

Our thanks go out to Carmen, Ian, Chris, Steve, and Adam; our hosts from the NCYC and Biorefinery Centre.

The NCYC  is the UK’s premier collection of yeast cultures, holding over 4000 (currently 4164) strains collected over 65 years. They have large collections of brewing yeast, genetically-defined yeast (used in many applications including cancer research), yeast associated with food spoilage and yeast of medical and industrial importance.

NCYC originated as a brewing yeast collection and in 1948 became a National collection. It wasn’t until 1981 that it was housed (along with its 530+ strain isolations) into its new home at the Institute of Food Research based in Norwich.

Not with standing this, in 2018 the facility may well be moving again to purpose built premises, the Quadram Institute, still based in Norwich.

Having already isolated 4164 strains of yeast from brewing, spoilage and environmental sources the NCYC continues to go from strength to strength with a Norwich based team that spans decades of experience and a liquid nitrogen preserved sample of every isolation.  As part of the visit we were escorted around the laboratory where isolations/samples are prepared for freezing.

For those of us that like a ‘tipple’ NCYC have isolated over 450 strains of yeast for brewing. Currently, 334 for ale, 79 for lager, 6 for distilled and 31 for wine.

However, having previously associated yeasts with brewing, baking and spoilage we were amazed to hear that they are also associated with the production of a range of useful chemicals and as a part of the visit we were lucky to visit the Biorefinery Centre.

The Biorefinery Centre focuses in a number of areas but currently the main theme appears to be the utilisation of biomass and the production of bioethanol. Not with standing this, various strains of yeasts are able to produce a range of useful building blocks and platform chemicals, such as succinic acid, and many others.

Genome mining for genetic variants is another function that occurs within the Research Park.

What does the future look like?

With ever increasing focus on health and wellbeing it is likely that future requirements will be placed on yeasts in the human gut and what that means for us all! Further exciting times for NCYC.

Report by John Harrison

Find out what else we've done for members in our region!



For the first time this year we will be hosting the Young Scientist Competiton. 

The Young Scientist Competition offers undergraduate/postgraduate students and those one-year after graduation based in the UK the opportunity to present their current/recently completed food-related projects in front of their peers and to a panel of food professionals. Entrants are required to submit an abstract of no more than 150 words on their subject area.

Successful applicants will be invited to present at the regional final on 10 May 2017 at University of Lincoln, Holbeach Campus where they will compete for a prize of up to £200.  To make sure the audience is included, there will also be a prize for the best presentation on the evening.

Find out how to enter and more about the judges


What is ecotrophelia ?

According to the website of The Belgian Food & Drink Association Fevia.be : “The Ecotrophelia competition challenges students from higher education pursuing a career in the [European] food industry to design an eco-friendly innovative food or beverage product with strong commercial potential.”

Deadline for registration is usually in November with the deadline for submission of dossiers during the following February.  Judging then takes place locally in each country with the UK national final normally held in a Dragons Den style competition in June and the winning UK team goes forward to represent the UK at the European final taking place in October. The competition is organised jointly by the Institute of Food Science & Technology and Campden BRI.

The competition is open to teams of students registered at a university or other establishment of scientific/technical higher education.  Ideally teams should be made up of between 4 and 6 students, but may have a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 10.  Only students who are 35 years or under on the day of the UK competition are eligible.  Teams across the UK pitch their products to industry leaders for a cash prize and the chance to represent the UK at the European Final. Interested in taking part? 

Please see IFST website here for details on how to register and a list of the 2016 UK finalists, from which the winning entry Fran Borjan achieved Bronze medal at the European Finals in Paris ( the first time a UK entry has been placed on the podium ).

Have you recently graduated?

We recognise that a number of our members once graduated will move around the country on graduate placement schemes or re-locate for other various reasons.   We've been working with a group of IFST members in their first three years after graduation to find out how we can help our members and their early career development.

Our Committee member Belinda Ashong is kindly leading this initiative for our region.   If you are interested in getting more involved, please get in touch.  Please note: IFST members only.

News and Comment

This section will be regularly updated with news, interviews and comments from those in the Eastern Region. For more news about Food Science and Technology and our members in the East of England see our Twitter feed #ifsteasternbranch


We are pleased to announce that Siobhan Gardiner, an IFST Young Ambassador and a Committee Member on the Eastern Branch, was awarded Women in Innovation 2016 Award.

Siobhan, who is currently completing her PhD in Agriculture at Cranfield University, has a great interest in food security. Through her robotic start-up, HEROTECH8, she aims to address the wider barriers to deployment of drones and precision technology in the humanitarian and agricultural sectors of developing nations. She wants to bring drone technology to places and people that would not have the resources, energy infrastructure or technical know-how to reliably and safely operate drone systems.

Get involved

If you would like more information about how to get involved with your local Branch, please contact Carol Raithatha.