Interview with Zsófia Kertész
Learn how Campden BRI helps improve the reliability of food safety and hygiene, why their digital solutions promote knowledge transfer in the industry, and what food labelling services they offer.
Zsófia Kertész works as a Development Engineer at Campden BRI Hungary in Budapest. Campden BRI provides the food and drink industry with practical scientific, technical and advisory services to ensure product safety and quality, process efficiency, alongside product and process innovation. With over 2,500 member companies in 80 countries, Campden BRI has successfully established itself as a leading research and innovation consultancy in the industry.
Zsófia talked to us about her role in the company and shared some insights into Campden BRI’s contributions to improvements in the food and drinks industry.
Hi Zsófia! Talk us through a typical day in the life of a Development Engineer at Campden BRI Hungary.
I work for Campden BRI Hungary, which is a service provider company for the food and drink sector. One part of my job is maintaining close contact with our clients and partners. If they have any troubles or issues, I support them in any way I can. At the moment I'm involved in the training activities of the company, and I also work on tasks related to microbiological troubleshooting. The other part of my job is working on research and development projects funded by the European Commission. Usually, my company leads the tasks related to the dissemination of the project results and identification of ways we can exploit these results when the project ends.
While attaining your Master of Science (MSc) in Biochemical Engineering, you specialised in food quality control. How has digitalisation impacted food quality control systems in Europe in recent years?
We are not that digitalised, and Industry 4.0 has a lot to offer for the food and drinks sector. Introducing ICT solutions—like smart sensors or robust production—has a huge impact on the reliability of food safety and hygiene. It also enables a more uniform food quality through better process controls and more efficient detection and removal of foreign bodies and other contaminants. Just as an example, if we have a smart sensor system implemented in our production line, we are gathering information on the conditions of production and the attributes of the product. So in this way, we can identify ways to reduce the cost of production and the use of certain resources, like water or energy, and find ways to improve the quality of the product.
We also have to consider the fact that SME food manufacturing companies have limited time to identify new solutions and approaches. This explains why they are a bit behind in introducing new digital solutions to their production compared to large enterprises.
The second point of view that we have to consider in this topic is the ICT solution providers. They are coming from a very different area. They have different [areas of] expertise, so for them, the needs and problems of the food industry are not always that easy to understand and react to. And this is why Campden BRI as a service provider and myself as a Development Engineer are in place: we facilitate the communication between the two parties and make these projects happen.
In what ways is technology helping with the facilitation of international knowledge transfer in the food industry today?
Technologies help us engage with our partners and clients, whether they are in Hungary or abroad. The available platforms are very useful for sharing knowledge and information with the target audience. But the general rule of knowledge transfer never changed. The industry appreciates research and research results, but they often don't know how to use these results properly—how to implement them into their daily work, into their daily practices. So these should be presented in a more easy-to-understand way to the end-users. And this is where digital solutions come into a big churn because they help us develop more attractive, easier-to-understand knowledge transfer tools to raise awareness towards different solutions and also to maintain the interest of the food industry.
With thousands of food product labels to cross-check in the industry, how do you ensure that they conform with current legislation?
Campden BRI Hungary offers consulting and training on food labelling to [actors in] the industry. During the training, the general rules and basics of food labelling are presented along with some guidance on how the participant can apply this knowledge to their own product and on their own label. And also, if they are uncertain, we are able to check whether their label is in compliance with legislation and help them correct or improve their labelling. Of course, in cases where there is a change in the legislation, we try to raise awareness towards this change. So we organise webinars and workshops for our partners, explain the changes to them, and identify ways to help them implement these changes.
Let's talk about R&D: What innovations and developments do you hope or expect to see in the years to come?
I think sustainability and modernisation will be the key priorities in the next few years. In December 2019, the European Commission released its Green Deal, and according to this deal, Europe (the EU) will be climate neutral by 2050. So I expect innovations, developments, projects and initiatives to support this vision and to help the industries with this transformation. Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 will be the key and crucial enablers for many, many industries to reach the set sustainability goals.
Thank you Zsófia!