Posted on January 27, 2021
Two University of Pretoria (UP) professors, Professor Elna Buys and Professor Riëtte de Kock, are currently the president-elect and vice-President, respectively, of the South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST).
Both Prof Elna Buys and Prof De Kock are from UP’s Department of Food and Consumer Sciences.
Prof Buys is president-elect of the SAAFoST (2019-2021) and will become president at the biennial conference in 2021 to serve a term until 2023, while Prof De Kock is the association’s current vice president from 2019 to 2021.
Professor Elna Buys.
Prof Buys is full of praise for SAAFoST. “My first ever conference that I attended was a SAAFoST conference at the CSIR [Council for Scientific and Industrial Research], where I presented research from my MSc degree. This opened a new world to me. It fascinated me and contributed greatly to pursue a career as a scientist. I am passionate that every young postgraduate student must get the chance to present at a conference. SAAFoST is the backbone of all food science professionals in South Africa, with very strong international links. The organisation is the platform for interaction between young food science professionals and those that have benefited from being members for an extended period.”
She also acknowledges that “to be selected as President Elect, was actually a surprise and a great honour”.
“To be able to represent SAAFoST at the highest level is a daunting task, but one that I am looking forward to. I believe change is the name of the game and this is what I will hope to achieve. Every organisation must keep up with the times and be relevant to all that belong to it. My first task is to lead the Scientific Committee for the 2021 virtual SAAFoST Conference, and it is going to be a great event,” Prof Buys says.
Prof Buys has been leading the Department of Food Science at UP since 2012 and was appointed as the head of the newly established Department of Consumer and Food Sciences in November 2017. Her research has focused on understanding the effect of food processing on the phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of spoilage and pathogenic bacteria, with a particular interest in dairy and meat. “With the expertise my research group has attained over time, we are now involved in international collaborative research determining disease burden, risk factors, sources and transmission routes for food borne pathogens,” she notes.
Prof De Kock is an associate professor. Her research focuses on the optimisation of the sensory properties of foods that contribute to the nutrition status and well-being of consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa. This includes food product development to meet the demands of a growing, more urbanised African population, and the exploration of Africa’s biodiverse food sources to make products that are not only nutritionally adequate, but also appealing and appetising.
Professor Riette de Kock.
SAAFoST is the national association of food science and technology and is concerned with advancing progress in this field. Academics, students and alumni from the Department of Consumer and Food Sciences at the University of Pretoria are active role players of the association and the broader food industry. De Kock says “the food industry and its scientists have an important responsibility to inform and educate consumers about the food items that they buy and consume”. She opted to serve on the executive of SAAFoST in order to represent and support the members of the food industry in these efforts.
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