Food Regulatory Group

Led by a steering committee with considerable food law experience, the Food Regulatory Group (formerly known as Food Law Group) focuses on relevant topics including global food standards, regulation, official controls, enforcement, food labelling, health and nutrition claims, novel foods etc. It provides members interested in food legislation with an opportunity to engage and share knowledge with others in the Group.

The Group's activities include hosting thought provoking discussion workshops (typically two per year). These are usually half-day interactive sessions featuring experts (including those from industry and government) presenting on the latest hot topics. The panel Q&A and general discussion sessions, encourage the sharing of relevant knowledge and experience across the sector.

Meet the Food Regulatory Group Committee

Chair: Sam Jennings

Communications: Juliana Ferro Coats

Events: Eugenia Choi

Other Members: Ruth Birt, Alison Friel, Dr Hazel Gowland, Cristina Gutierrez Solano, Madeleine Jones, Alex Kent, Luke Murphy, Fiona Palmer, Eric Partington, Dr Mark Tallon, Dr Rachel Ward, and Rebecca Wikman

Ruth Birt (FIFST) has over 30 years’ experience in the food industry and holds a Food Science degree and a master’s in food law. Ruth spent 15 years in a blue chip specialist foods company before setting up her consultancy, Regulatory Solutions Ltd. Her company offers regulatory advice in the areas of infant foods, foods for special medical purposes, and other dietetic foods. Ruth is the Chair of the IFST Scottish Branch.

Eugenia Choi (MIFST) graduated as a nutrition and food scientist and has a background in food law. She has spent over 10 years working in various regulatory affairs positions across the food and drink as well as nutritional healthcare industries covering the UK, EU, and other international markets.

Juliana Ferro Coats is a US-qualified lawyer and is fluent in French and Spanish. Juliana has worked as an intern and volunteer for the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic. At Harvard, she co-authored a publicised report on the laws governing food expiration dates, The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America.

Alison Friel (MIFST) joined a global certification body in 2019 to develop and lead the Technical Advisory team. With over 20 years’ experience in the food industry she has held a number of technical roles across the manufacturing, food service, and retail sectors.

Dr Hazel Gowland (FIFST) is a leading expert advocate, researcher and trainer in food allergy and member of the IFST Scientific Committee. In addition to consultancy and training through Allergy Action, she investigates severe and fatal allergic reactions and undertakes research into regulatory and forensic aspects of consumer protection for those at risk.

Cristina Gutierrez Solano (MIFST) holds degrees in Human Dietetics and Nutrition (BSc) and Science and Food Technology (MSc). She is a member of the South East Branch Committee and Secretary of the Food Safety Group. Cristina worked for the Food Parasitology Council in Spain and as a dietitian in the private sector. She is currently a Technical Compliance Manager for Brakes.

Sam Jennings (FIFST) is a Director of Berry Ottaway & Associates Ltd, a consultancy providing scientific, technical and UK/EU regulatory support to the food industry. She has almost 19 years’ experience in advising industry and governments internationally, specialising in food supplements and functional foods.

Madeleine Jones leads Associated British Foods Food Law Programme covering all aspects of current and emerging EU and domestic food law.  She is Vice-Chair of the Food and Drink Federations’ Food Law and Labelling Committee and a member of the Food Safety and Scientific Steering Group. Madeleine has worked in technical and regulatory roles in the food industry since 1980.

Alex Kent (Hon. FIFST) graduated in Food Science at Leeds and held technical roles at Marks & Spencer, Unilever, Spillers Foods, Unigate, the Lusty Group, and Fibrisol Service. He has also been a teacher and worked for Trading Standards. Prior to retirement, he helped small businesses with food safety systems through the SALSA scheme. Alex previously served as Hon. Treasurer and Hon. Secretary of IFST, and now is the Independent Assessor.

Luke Murphy (MIFST) heads the commercial side of the scientific and regulatory affairs at Leatherhead Food Research, having previously worked as a manager and advisor in the team for 10 years. He helps companies solve strategic and compliance-related food law issues, and manages Leatherhead client accounts in the UK, Ireland, Benelux, Scandinavia, Switzerland, and the USA. Before this, he worked in R&D and technical roles for Unilever, Mars Petcare, Dupont, and Leathams Ltd.  

Dr Fiona Palmer (MIFST) graduated in Food Science and has a Doctorate in Analytical Chemistry. She has nearly 30 years’ experience in the food industry, working in technical roles in the fruit juice and soft drinks industries.

Eric Partington is a metallurgist who, as a European Consultant to the Nickel Institute, specialises in the applications of stainless steels in the food and beverage industry. He has presented and published extensively on the selection of food contact materials and on EU food safety legislation. He is Chairman of the Regional Section of the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group which serves the UK & Ireland. 

Dr Mark Tallon (FIFST) is an expert in EU food law and past chair of the IFST Food Regulatory Group (formerly known as ‘Food Law Group’). With over 20 years’ experience, his role as Managing Director at Legal Foods Ltd has resulted in the review and assessment of over 1,000 products covering multiple EU markets. He holds master’s Degrees in European Law and Food Law and a Doctorate in Nutritional Biochemistry.

Dr Rachel Ward (FIFST) is an experienced international food risk manager with over 25 years’ experience across various technical roles in quality assurance, food safety and regulatory affairs. Rachel has worked with a diverse range of businesses on ensuring quality, food safety, and regulatory compliance. She now combines working as Scientific Policy Director at IFST with freelance consultancy.

Rebecca Wikman (MIFST) is a civil engineer who added BSc Food Science and Human Nutrition to her portfolio. Rebecca works in the nutraceuticals industry with experience in additives, sweeteners, starches, juice to juice drinks, freeze-dried berries, flavours, proteins, probiotics, prebiotics, pulses, herbals and herbal extracts, and oilseeds from various places within the food industry. She has over 17 years’ of experience gained in various technical roles.


Upcoming events
Students and competitions

The Food Regulatory Group contributed questions to the first ever IFST University Food Challenge competition that took place on 27 February 2019.

A number of the Committee members participate as mentors at IFST Student Launchpads.

Get in touch

If you would like to get more involved with our Food Regulatory Group, please contact us.

IFST Impact Award

We value the important contribution that volunteers bring to the work and life of the Institute. Without the contribution of the volunteers who serve on committees, branches and special interest groups, we would find it difficult to achieve the strategic priorities set out by the Board of Trustees. The Impact Award is an opportunity for volunteers to showcase an innovative activity which has been undertaken which meets the following criteria.

  1. Is new and has been undertaken in the last 12 months which delivers measurable impact to any/any/all IFSTs strategic priorities, or
  2. Is an existing activity which has undergone an adaptation or change in order to deliver an enhanced impact linked to any/all of IFSTs strategic priorities, and which 
  3. Is scalable and sustainable. 

Previous winners:

2020 IFST Northern Ireland Branch and Eastern Branch 

2019 IFST Student Group

2018 IFST Student Group

2017 IFST Sensory Science Group

Find out more about the previous winners, entry criteria and submissions here.