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Dr Colette Fagan is Associate Professor in Food Processing and Head of the Food Processing Centre. Colette is an expert in industrial microbiology and engineering technology, giving her all the skills needed to oversee the Food Processing Centre. What does Colette say of the Food Processing Centre?

“We're lucky in that we can turn our hand to most unit operations that the food industry needs, as over the years we have acquired the capacity to do that. It's quite a unique space really. It's used by all of our undergraduate students and our master's students.”

Using the food processing centre from day one

Colette is keen to explain that in such a practical field as food and nutritional sciences, practical work from an early stage is very important. Colette explains that students will get to use the Food Processing Centre creatively from the beginning of their time here.

“They will do practicals like ice cream making, bread making, sausage production, and spray drying of coffee, so usually by the end of it they've made a product that they can take away and eat. It really puts a bit of context in for them."

New product development

A key aspect of a student's journey here at Reading is the New Product Development module, which allows students to design and create a new food product, from concept to realisation to marketing. Colette observes that this often means lots of time spent in the Food Processing Plant, which is excellent preparation for a career in food and nutritional sciences.

When they go in to a job, it's about being able to have that understanding and experience of what's required initially going in to that food processing environment, but also just being able to understand fundamentally how the equipment works on a pilot scale. Then, when they're on an industrial scale they really have the capacity to transfer what they learnt on a slightly smaller scale to a bigger scale."

Professional services for the food industry

Colette tells us that the Food Processing Centre is important for the food industry, offering a range of services to help businesses. Colette feels that because the facilities are used by both students and industry professionals, the Food Processing Centre is a great asset for everyone involved.

“Companies can come in and rent out access to our facilities when they're available. This could be anything from small scale half-day processing trials through to a much longer collaborative project, whereby we're working with companies to solve a problem or develop a new product."