South African retailer Woolworths has scooped the President's Award for its contribution to food science and technology at a recent international (IUFoST) conference of 1752 food scientists and experts in Cape Town. The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST), a country-membership organisation, is the global voice of food science and technology linking the world's top food scientists and technologists.
"The President’s Award is our highest accolade," explains Rosie Maguire, President of South Africa’s Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST). "It is presented at the end of a Presidential term of office to honour an organisation/individual that has made a significant contribution towards the achievement of SAAFoST vision and mission of advancing food science and related technologies for the supply of safe and wholesome food in South Africa.
"Woolworths's strong presence in the 'private label' food arena necessitates a large contingent of food scientists who help to ensure that Woolworths brand equity is upheld and consumers expectations are met. Woolworths Food's technical team are deserving winners,” Maguire says.
In naming Woolworths as its 2010 President Award winner, SAAFoST cited technical excellence and dedication of the team to supply consumers with safe, delicious and innovative products, being early adopters of new technologies, stringent adherence to legislation, and concern for the environment and ethical business practices.
'The Woolies difference'
SAAFoST encourages scientific research, organises meetings, seminars, workshops, exhibitions, congresses, publishes papers and assists in educational activities.
"It is an extraordinary honour to be commended for our dedication to good food our peers," Woolworths Food Managing Director, Zyda Rylands says. "Innovation and quality are at the heart of our business and it’s what our customers have come to know as the Woolies difference."
Innovation, technology and science have underpinned Woolworths for many years.This has produced many milestones in what the retailer calls their Good Food Journey.
The following initiatives are a just few of many examples:
Woolworths was the first major local retailer to introduce sell by dates. Whilst the "Best Before" date is an indicator of quality (i.e. the product will not eat as well beyond this date as intended), the "Use By" date is a safety indicator (i.e. products with a use by date may potentially become harmful if consumed beyond the use by).
Woolworths' legendary cold chain keeps their food fresher for longer. A cold chain is a temperature-controlled supply chain. In short, the retailer insists on first-class handling disciplines and optimum temperature control from the time a product is produced to when it reaches the store shelves.
Woolworths minimise the use of pesticides on their crops - for the good of their customers and the planet. For example in 2009 Woolies announced a new farming method for their fresh produce called Farming for the future which aims to radically improve soil and plant health, preserve resources like water and soil and protect biodiversity.
As far as possible, Woolworths avoid using additives in their own brand of food. Woolworths announced that from April 2010 Woolworths-branded foods would no longer contains azo dyes, a type of artificial colourants frequently used to colour sweets and other brightly coloured foodstuffs. (These include the Woolies wine gums, gummy loops, fruit salad gums, juicy jellies and jelly beans.) Also, since last year the retailer no longer uses the artificial sweeteners aspartame, saccharin and cyclamate.
Demanding food safety and integrity standards. Well beyond legal requirements, Woolworths have driven uncompromising production controls and audits for many years.
(Compiled by Birgit Ottermann, Health24, December 2010)
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