Suzanne Preddie-Atterby – molecular biologist and a Bayn pioneer

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.

6 March 2020 •

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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