IFST Eastern Branch

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 us.

To see the most up to date Eastern branch activity, visit our Twitter feed #ifsteasternbranch.

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.


I’m a consultant and director of Carol Raithatha Limited. 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.


Debra has over 30 years of food safety/research training and experience.
Prior to joining Vikan Deb worked in the microbiology laboratory of Bernard Matthews Farms, a large poultry farmer and processor (3 years),  the Food Safety Division of the UKs Dept. of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as a Research Manager (DEFRA, 16 years), and as Food Hygiene Research Manager at Campden BRI (9 years).
She holds qualifications in Applied Microbiology (HNC), Nutrition & Food Science (BSc (Hons)), and Advanced Food Hygiene and HACCP. She is also a qualified FSSC 22000 auditor and an active Committee Member of both the European Hygienic Design Engineering Group (EHEDG, UK & Ireland Regional Section) and the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST, Eastern Region).

Deb is author/co-author of numerous food safety/hygiene publications, including peer reviewed papers, book chapters and a number of food industry hygiene guidelines. She has also presented her research at many National and International food safety events.


Professor Julian Cooper is an internationally renowned sugar and carbohydrate expert. During his 35 year career with British Sugar and AB Sugar he developed extensive experience in process and product development, carbohydrate chemistry, product reformulation and research and development in the food sector. He has recently retired and set up 342 Consulting Ltd.  He has written many scientific papers and is the inventor on several patents. He has worked with many major food companies, research associations and universities in Europe, North America and Japan and has presented papers at many major symposia.  He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Reading, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Chartered Chemist, a Chartered Scientist and a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST). He is also Chair of the Scientific Committee at the IFST and is a Board Trustee. Julian has lived in East Anglia for over 35 years and has strong links with the agriculture and food industries in the Eastern Region.


I am an active IFST Member based in Cambridgeshire. I am fortunate in spending my working time travelling worldwide, auditing the supplier base for Premier Foods. My key area of knowledge and application is focused on food safety through the supply chain. Food security and safety is a fast moving and highly interesting area of our industry. The IFST network provides much knowledge into this arena. The UK Eastern region is very dynamic within the food industry, for research, development and manufacturing. This is fertile ground in many ways for the IFST.

I have an aspiration to ensure future generations are inspired and engaged in food science and technology. Also that the right choices are made in ensuring future food is sustainable for all, with the safety nutrition and taste we all need and desire.


Robert Bowman, Siobhan Gardiner, Tom Hollands, Andy Bowles & Robert Winwood.

What are we doing for students?

Find out more about our competitions and awards



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 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.

Siobhan has also been appointed as the Vice President of The British Federation of Women Graduates

Get involved

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