VITAL Coordinator appointed
Friday, 19 September 2008 21:08
Georgina Christensen has been appointed to the newly created Allergen Bureau position of VITAL Coordinator to meet the increasing demand for information and support for VITAL (Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling).
Georgina has extensive experience in the food industry, most recently as Product Development Team Leader at the Heinz Infant Feeding Centre of Excellence in Echuca, Victoria, where she previously held the position of Quality Assurance Team Leader.
Her role as Product Development Team Leader included risk assessment for food allergens. Her earlier role as Quality Assurance Team Leader also included food allergen management in the context of writing and reviewing specifications and certificates of analysis for raw ingredients.
Georgina has direct experience in food labelling requirements having been Label Review Co-ordinator at Heinz Wattie's Australasia with responsibility for ensuring the company's retail and food service labels complied with regulatory requirements; including food allergens.
She has a Bachelor of Science (University of Adelaide) majoring in microbiology with studies in virology and immunology. She also has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Food Science) with First Class Honours from the RMIT University, Melbourne.
Her major project for her Honours Degree was entitled 'The development of a database for a food manufacturing company to identify food ingredients which may cause adverse reactions’. This research put her in direct contact with many people whose lives are affected by food allergens. In particular the mothers of children with food allergies.
"The fact that they [food allergens] dominate their lives...the constant worry about whether their child will be safe on planes, in child care, going to someone's house or a restaurant. That's what has made me really take food allergens so seriously throughout my career,” Georgina says.
“Seeing the anguish that they go through, if there is anything that the food industry can do to make their lives easier...we must do it. There's a very tangible, and very human side to making sure food labels have the correct information for food allergens."
Georgina is looking forward to working with people from the food industries in Australia and New Zealand. "The Allergen Bureau has a really important role in the food industry and I think my direct and very practical experience makes it much easier for me to talk to people in the food industry about the advantages and benefits of using VITAL.
"Seeing all the hard work in the food industry that goes into ensuring food allergen information on food labelling is accurate and consistent is a really strong motivation for me in my new role as the Allergen Bureau's VITAL Coordinator,” Georgina says.
"All of my work in the food industry has had a strong emphasis on food allergens and supporting the food industry's use of VITAL is definitely something I want to be part of."