AN almond lab technician has won one of the country's top food safety honours at this year's Asia Pacific Food Safety Awards, announced last month at the APAC Food Safety Conference at Sydney.
Laboratory technician at Riverland Almonds, Hayley Pfeifer, won the Leaders of the Future award, which includes a food safety learning scholarship for food courses with SAI Global to the value of $10,000.
Winning this category requires entrants to demonstrate a background or experience that shows a special perspective on food safety, a drive towards continuous improvement and leadership potential through vision.
Ms Pfeifer said she wasn't expecting to win but was very grateful for the company nominating her.
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Ms Pfeifer, who studied human nutrition and food science at university, is in charge of microbial and chemical testing at Riverland Almonds.
She said there had been an increase in awareness of food safety in recent years.
"I think there has definitely been more focus on it, particularly with a few recalls," she said.
"It's a competitive space in the retail market so it's about everyone being vigilant of the need for food safety."
Ms Pfeifer does not have an agricultural background but said she enjoyed working within the food science arena.
"There are so many areas to it and food science is definitely something I'm passionate about," she said.
I also have had the opportunity to be involved in maintaining quality and retail compliance under a rigorous schedule alongside the team at Riverland Almonds.
The awards recognised winners across three categories:
- Innovators in Food Safety
- Leaders of the Future
- Ross Peters Award for Excellence in Food Safety
The event was hosted by integrated risk management solutions, SAI Global.
Riverland Almonds is a South Australian company, and one of the three major handlers of almonds in the country.
Ms Pfeifer's role at Riverland Almonds consists of testing all stock that arrives to the processing factory for pathogens and food safety risks as well as indicators of shelf life and product stability.
"I also have had the opportunity to be involved in maintaining quality and retail compliance under a rigorous schedule alongside the team at Riverland Almonds," she said.
Allied Pinnacle national quality manager, Hazel Hughes, was awarded the Ross Peters Award for Excellence in Food Safety.
We think it is important that their work in the industry is recognised and rewarded. We should all aspire and strive for excellence in making a positive impact to improving our food safety culture.
Allied Pinnacle is Australasia's largest end-to-end bakery-ingredient supplier and producer of flour, break, cake mixes and cooked bakery products.
SAI Global Assurance chief executive officer, John Rowley, congratulated the winners.
"We think it is important that their work in the industry is recognised and rewarded. We should all aspire and strive for excellence in making a positive impact to improving our food safety culture," Mr Rowley said.
Allergen Bureau, the peak industry body representing food industry allergen management, was the winner in the Innovators in Food Safety category, which recognises an individual or organisation that has exceled in developing innovations in technology, process, procedure and training in the food safety space.
The three-day APAC Food Safety Conference was attended by more than 150 food safety professionals.
The event kicked off with an optional food manufacturing site tour hosted by Lion, Tooheys and the CSIRO.
This was followed by two days of presentations from keynote speakers, including Woolworths, Coles, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Police Service, and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.
NSW Department of Primary Industries' Dr Craig Shadbolt spoke on recent outbreaks with high risk horticulture while Keith Chessell from the Australian Institute of Packaging spoke on the role packaging plays in reducing food waste.