Australian Food Industry Awards Recognise Excellence at the AIFST 50th Convention

The 2017 Australian Institute of Food Science & Technology (AIFST) Awards were announced at the AIFST 50th Anniversary Convention, 17 July 2017. These awards are an opportunity to recognise the outstanding achievements of AIFST members and the contributions they have made to the Institute, as well as the Australian food industry. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge the newly appointed Fellow members.

First to be awarded was the AIFST Poster Competition in conjunction with partner Agilent. The winner recognised as the creator of the most outstanding poster was Jessica Heffernan, CSIRO, with a poster Investigating consumption patterns and satiety to support food product development.

Honouring the fifth President of the institute and awarded to young AIFST members who demonstrate academic achievement, leadership and integrity, is the Malcolm Bird Award. Two finalists were presented, Anita Pax and Julia Low, both embodying the values that the award represents. The winner was Julia Low for her investigation into The association between sweet taste function, oral complex carbohydrate sensitivity, liking and consumption of ad libitum sweet and complex carbohydrate milkshakes.

The AIFST Sensory Award, sponsored by Sensory Solutions, honours Anthony (Tony) Williams, a pioneer of the Sensory Research Industry. This award recognises a young AIFST member who demonstrates academic achievement, interest, enthusiasm, and integrity in Sensory Research. Lu Yu and Soumi Mukhopadhyay were both finalists in this category giving outstanding presentations earlier in the day. Lu Yu was bestowed this award for her paper on Descriptive sensory analysis of high pressure, cooked rice.

Next up, the Student Product Development Competition, an exciting industry initiative to give student and graduate members an opportunity to experience a “real-life” new product development project, gaining exposure to industry experts, peers and future employers within the food industry. A number of partners enable the competition to take place, in particular Retail Food Group, whose generous support not only enables the competition to go ahead, but also offers a work placement opportunity to the winning team. Other competition partners are ADM, Simplot, Sanitarium, Murray Goulburn and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. All participating teams showed great creativity, passion and rose to the challenge of developing a ‘future food’, with the winning team from Deakin University, consisting of Tara McCormick, Gina Absalom and Brittany Andreola for their new product The Nutcracker.

The AIFST Food Innovation Award recognises a company or organisation that has demonstrated a significant new development in a process, product, ingredient, equipment or package which has achieved successful commercial application in the Australian food industry. Tasmania’s Westhaven and Naturale Pty Ltd were joint winners for their production of the world’s first omega-3 yoghurt from cow’s milk.

Westhaven and Naturale have demonstrated outstanding commitment, ingenuity and innovation, as well as excellence in process engineering and production of specialised feed supplements, dairy husbandry and yoghurt manufacture to make available a healthy omega-3 natural yoghurt for consumers; establishing a pathway for other healthy functional dairy foods to be produced.

Acknowledging a member who has advanced the industry and made significant contributions to the AIFST, is the Keith Farrer Award of Merit, named after Dr Keith Farrer, an outstanding food scientist and President of AIFST from in 1969 - 1971. Associate Professor Mark Turner was named as the esteemed recipient of this award for 2017. A long-standing advocate of both the AIFST and the profession with a great passion for food science and technology, Professor Turner has been the chief investigator on more than $12M of research projects and published over 64 papers. Further contributions to the industry and AIFST include launching the University of Queensland’s Food Science Club; providing input to past Conventions; and actively supporting and encouraging his students to participate in AIFST events including Summer School, Conventions, awards and competitions.

The final award of the afternoon recognised, acknowledged, and acclaimed an individual that has made an outstanding contribution to the institute during his almost 20 years of membership. The 2017 AIFST President’s Award went to a member whose international career spanning nearly 40 years has left a great mark on the industry as a result of the lengthy list of projects and initiatives he has supported over the many years, and well-known work with CSIRO. Whilst retired, this member continues to contribute significantly, including being instrumental in the establishment of a new mentoring pilot program being launched at the Convention. The honour of this award was deservedly given to Jayantha Sellahewa.

Finally, the AIFST elevated seven members to Fellows of the Institute in recognition of their outstanding service to the AIFST and contributions to the food science and technology profession. The newly appointed Fellows were: Dr Anne Astin, Tom Debney, Professor Mike Gidley, Cheryl Hughes, Dr Tom Lewis, Dr Janet Paterson, and Cathy Moir.

The awards are a significant part of the AIFST and are an opportunity to recognise the excellence and contributions of members, as well as inspire others to achieve great things in the industry.

The award ceremony was held as part of the AIFST 50th Anniversary Convention, 17-18 July 2017, at International Convention Centre Sydney, Darling Harbour.