Columns • Suzanne Preddie-Atterby has worked at Bayn from the very beginning when stevia was not yet approved by the EU. Over the years, she has accumulated impressive knowledge, and she is more than willing to share it. Suzanne will answer most questions regarding food technology, legislation and regulations, in a heartbeat. After growing up in Canada, Suzanne crossed the pond and has lived in Sweden for many years. This molecular biologist is one of our heroes.
Our heroes. That is what we call our colleagues, who work with research and development of our sweetened fibres. It is their knowledge, experience and diligent work that makes Bayn the leading supplier of sweetened fibres. And these people are the ones that help you choose the right sweetened fibres, and fine-tune the composition for your application, or create your own solution for sugar reduction. Although they are heroes, they are rarely seen and heard. We should remedy that. In a series of articles, you get to meet our heroes.
Suzanne Preddie-Atterby is the one who has worked the longest time of all at Bayn. During her studies at Stockholm University, Suzanne came in contact with Professor Jan Geuns. Jan Geuns is active at the University of Leuven Belgium and has been researching stevia for more than 20 years. He is the chairman of the European Stevia Association (EUSTAS), which was the main applicant for stevia’s approval within the EU.
Jan Geuns brought Suzanne together with Bayn’s founder, and the collaboration with Bayn gained momentum in 2010.
Since then, Suzanne’s professional roles have changed over time. And as a pioneer at Bayn, her skills are hard to beat. Meet Suzanne Preddie-Atterby – one of Bayn’s heroes.
What kind of background do you have?
I am a biologist at heart and have studied in both Canada and Sweden. I have a master’s degree with a focus on molecular biology and molecular ecology, such as biological processes in TBE ticks. But I also studied food science in Sweden.
Why did you choose this academic path?
I have always been interested in biology in whatever form. Both food and plants interest me. I simply love it.
How can you use your knowledge?
Knowledge of molecular biology is important for dealing with challenges in everything from plant cultivation and medicine to nanotechnology. As a molecular biologist, you can, for instance, work on the development of food and development of drugs, and do statistical analysis of biological data.
Thanks to my knowledge of molecular ecology, I’ve also got knowledge of safety and control, which has been really useful for my job at Bayn.
Tell us about your relationship with stevia!
During my studies in Sweden, people started talking about new sweeteners. I heard about stevia and steviol glycosides and immediately became curious (Editor’s note: steviol glycosides are an extract from the stevia plant). The reason is that steviol glycosides are herbal, have no calories and are an alternative to artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame. I thought this might really be something. I then contacted Professor Jan Geuns, who has been researching stevia for more than 20 years.
So, this is how you got in touch with Bayn?
Yes, that’s right. Professor Geuns tipped me about Bayn and introduced me to Bayn’s founder Lucy Dahlgren. He also invited me to a stevia conference on Malta.
What happened then?
At the time it was Lucy and I working full time trying to build something. When I look back, what we did was pretty far out. And very brave!
As a groundbreaker, what kind of things did you work with?
It should be remembered that we were really in the starting pits. Steviol glycosides were not yet approved, but I followed the approval process, gathered information, did some benchmarking between different companies, but also a lot of research to learn more about the stevia plant and how it works in the body. I also worked on legal as well as technical and application issues.
Oh, that sounds like a hectic period?
Yes, there was a lot going on. A milestone was when we made an agreement with Barentz, a leading international supplier of ingredients. Stevia was new, the market was new, and I did a lot of training with the sales staff. We attended many stevia conferences and we were looking for people to develop our products together with. It was a lot of everything during these years. I travelled a lot but also learned a lot. Not least I got to share a lot.
And today, how would you describe a normal working day?
Bayn is a completely different company today. Now we have solutions that reduce sugar one-on-one in different applications. For my own part, I am now focusing on regulations and legislation. I work with questions and answers and provide support to the sales department. If customers have questions about legislation or technical issues, they can always come to me. Although I know a lot, I don’t know everything. In such cases, I just turn to our team in research and development. They’re great!
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