RSC Long Service Medal Awarded to Mike Saltmarsh
The Food Group Committee were delighted to present (virtually, below) an RSC Long Service award to Mike Saltmarsh in recognition of his many years of active support for the RSC and RSC Food Group.
We have managed to capture some of his highlights and memories to share:
Mike Saltmarsh joined the Food Group committee in the late 1980s and stood down from the Committee during the challenges of 2020, and we are grateful for all his efforts and particularly for his encouragement of early career food chemists. The RSC has also just published his latest Food Additives book, which has been an excellent reference to many in the food industry.
We asked Mike to reflect on his time with the committee and would like to share some of his memories. When he joined the Committee, it consisted primarily of academics such as Bronek Wedzicka and Eric Dickinson from Leeds, Roger Fenwick and Colin Dennis from FRI Norwich, Michael Spiro from Imperial College, and later joined by Andy Taylor from Nottingham and Rachel Burch, from the FRA. Many changes have been seen in the UK food sector over the years and government support for food research has plummeted with the closure of all specific food research institutes and of the four industry funded Research Associations: Chorleywood, Brewing Research, Leatherhead and Campden, only the latter remains.
One of the Food Group highlights was the first ever conference on polyphenols and food at the meeting of Group Polyphenol in Lisbon in 1992, organised by Professor Olga Laureano, with focus on tea and chocolate. Groupe Polyphenol was formed in 1972 and had been interested in polyphenols in wood and wine. Now the major emphasis of polyphenol research is food but ours was the first to discuss that and we wanted researchers to understand what polyphenols actually did in food rather than just considering them as interesting molecules in research projects.
Mike has ran a number of conferences for the Food Group including the first functional food conferences with the British Nutrition Foundation and has been actively involved in Total Foods which is now a biennial conference. He remembers when organising a conference on almost any aspect of food chemistry would attract an audience of at least 60, but in recent years the environment has changed and companies tend not to support staff attending conferences, which is really concerning. Mike believes that “It is extremely difficult to invent de novo; even Newton stood on the shoulders of giants and it is essential for technical staff to understand the context of their work and to be exposed to ideas in related areas”.
Mike remains active in the Food and Beverage sector and continues to learn and challenge all aspects of food chemistry.