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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

NAMRIP member receives SOFHT Student Award 2019

Published: 5 July 2019
Weng Yee Chong with her award
Left to right: Fiona Kibby, Weng Yee Chong and Fiona Sutherland

Weng Yee Chong, a PhD student sponsored by Vitacress Salads Ltd. and EPSRC, won a Society of Food Hygiene and Technology (SOFHT) Student Award 2019 under the part-time students/apprentices in employment category.

Supervised by Professor Tim Leighton and Dr. Craig Dolder from Engineering, and Professor Bill Keevil, Dr. Tom Secker, and Dr. Callum Highmore from Biological Sciences, Weng Yee’s project explores a new ultrasonic approach, without the use of chemical sanitisers, to enhance the efficacy of current cleaning methods of minimally processed ready-to-eat (RTE) salads. The project aim is to improve the microbiological safety of RTE salads using ultrasonic cleaning with non-inertial cavitation of bubbles.  

Weng Yee won the award with a poster presenting her preliminary findings, which demonstrated that inertial cavitation of bubbles (employed in an ultrasonic bath) damaged the surface of salad leaves, while cleaning with non-inertial cavitation of bubbles (employed in Professor Leighton’s StarStream invention) did not.

Judges commented that her work was topical with the current focus on the reduction of chemicals in food processing and the surface damage of the leaf is integral to customer satisfaction. On 4th July 2019, Weng Yee was invited to attend the SOFHT summer lecture held in Coventry where she received her award.

Professor Leighton said “I am extremely proud of Weng Yee – it is becoming a trend with my researchers that they arrive wanting to do one thing, and so start a journey to unexpected places. Weng Yee arrived at Southampton to do Acoustics with Music, in which she excelled, but now she is an engineer who spends a great deal of her time in the microbiology laboratories growing microbes and testing how our ultrasonic inventions affect them. She is another trans-disciplinary student: not just playing on the black notes, or just on the white notes, but playing in the cracks in between. Such people are crucial to shaping solutions to the societal challenges of the 2020s and beyond, and the multidisciplinary collaborations in NAMRIP are fantastic places in which they can train. I am grateful to Vitacress for their steadfast support, and look forward to supplying them with useful solutions to help them lead the way in reducing the use of chemicals in ensuring food safety.”

Weng Yee Chong is photographed above accepting her award from Fiona Kibby (Chair of SOFHT & Head of Regulatory Compliance and Food Safety at Tesco) on the left and Fiona Sutherland (SOFHT Student Member Director & Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln) on the right.

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