Report from IFST's student group launch event

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Nottingham University student, Morweena, provides a report on IFST's first ever student-led event

On the 29th November 2014 I left Nottingham on a train at 7.10am to head to London to represent the University at the Institute of Food Science and Technology student group Launch event. The Institute of Food Science and Technology, which is celebrating its 50th Birthday this year, is the voice of the food profession. You are able to be a member once you have a degree and work in the industry but also when you are a student and is very valuable. The location for the event, Food Matters Live, is a new event dedicated to food, health and nutrition. It was held at the excel arena and included a variety of seminars and also exhibitor stands.

We had a special programme of events lined up for us which were put together by four current Nottingham students who won the Heinz team challenge last year. The Heinz team challenge is a team competition held every year which is open to students studying Food Science or related degrees which is sponsored by Heinz and John Wiley & Sons. The event started with a welcome and introduction from John Poole, Chief Executive of IFST and Sam Higginson one of the Nottingham students who organised the event.

We then had a variety of talks. First Steve Osborn, Business Innovation Manager at Leatherhead Food Research, gave us a fantastic talk about innovation in the Food Industry. Andrew Fitzmaurice followed with a short workshop presentation about the job market, CVs and how to stand out from the crowd. This was very useful and his experience, ideas and websites suggestion will be very useful for all of the students who attended.

The third talk given by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne explained the Genius Story: how she developed the well-known brand of Genius Gluten Free Foods starting from finding out her son was gluten intolerant. Her hard work, dedication and drive to improve people’s daily life with gluten free bread first of all was inspirational. She now produces a range of products including blueberry muffins which were kindly donated in our I LOVE FOOD SCIENCE gift bags we were given. Part of her talk that stood out to me was that when the bakery she first used to produce her bread started competing with her, she bought it out! The final speaker before lunch was Melisa Kupaza who is the Chair of the IFST student group. She officially launched the group and explained what it was about and how it will benefit all of us who are studying related degrees and what it is like to get involved.

After our free lunch we did a food science ‘pub quiz’ in teams of mixed Universities to begin to get to know other food science students from round the country. Two examples of questions were ‘Which tastes sweeter round or square chocolate?’ (round!) and ‘What is arachibutrophobia?’ (fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth). I was part of the winning team and we won a large box of chocolates! After this we went off to explore the exhibition and collect information for the video competition.

The exhibition had lots of stands representing food related manufacturing companies, research companies, organisations and Universities. It was interesting to explore and I picked up so much free stuff I could barely carry it home! This included information from large companies such as Kelloggs, Coca-Cola and Nestle which offer year-long placements to students after the 2nd year of their degree. On stand that stood out to me was a company researching antioxidants and the large variety of parts of the body that the antioxidant supplements could potentially have benefit to was surprising. The University of Nottingham had a stand showing their research into sensory science. I found out that I am not a super taster or a thermal taster. Overall it was a valuable experience and insight into to IFST and Food industry and I can’t wait to go to another event soon.