“My undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Sheffield University provided me with a good grounding in biochemistry, genetics and pharmacology. It also highlighted to me that I was not going to enjoy a career as a research scientist as I was much more interested in the communication of science than growing cultures in a laboratory. My first job after university involved working in the marketing department for a science publisher with a view to becoming an editor. I never became an editor, remaining in marketing for a number of years until I joined Sainsbury’s.
Here I became immersed in the world of food, discovered a love of cooking and met my first dietitians and nutritionists working in industry. I had finally found a job which would enable me to link communicating science with my two other passions, food and health. I researched accredited nutrition courses and undertook a Masters in Public Health Nutrition at London Metropolitan University where I was inspired by using science as an evidence base for public health policy to have the biggest impact on UK eating habits.
After a secondment in the Health Team at Sainsbury’s which gave me an excellent grounding in applying nutrition science to a food business, I joined Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), a health charity highlighting the impact of salt on health. Here I combined my communications and business experience with my nutrition knowledge to deliver the salt awareness campaign for consumers as well as working with food manufacturers to reduce added salt in their products.
I then joined Premier Foods to build the nutrition department where I advised some of the UK’s largest brands including Hovis, Quorn, Ambrosia, Mr Kipling, Bisto and Batchelors on how to improve the nutrition profile of their products and provide evidence based information to consumers. We also provided training for hundreds of product development and marketing colleagues, improving their knowledge and thereby making a positive impact on the products they developed and marketed.
I am now leading the newly formed Yogurt Council to promote yogurt as a delicious and nutritious food to health care professionals, consumers and journalists. As this is a part-time role I also work as an independent nutrition consultant on everything from developing brand guidelines for new products and analysing recipes to providing advice on PR and communication campaigns.
I have found that having previous commercial experience as well as a communications background has helped me put nutrition science into practice as a Food Nutritionist. I would encourage those moving to a new career in nutrition not to forget your previous experience and new graduates to gain experience in as many fields as possible. For example, I instigated a volunteer programme at CASH and a previous volunteer now leads the campaign.”
Jo is a Registered Nutritionist and is an Independent Nutrition Consultant & Director of the Yogurt Council