Ivan – Regulatory Affairs

If you like chemistry at school, are interested in food science and technology, and would like to be involved in food legislation – read on; Ivan’s career may be right up your street!

What attracted you to this job?

I was fascinated by chemistry at a young age, and later on decided I wanted to do something with chemistry that was practical and useful – and that’s how I got into food chemistry. Since then I moved from food chemistry to other aspects of food science and technology.

What does your typical day involve?

I work with food legislation, so much of my work is desk based. My day starts off with checking all the latest developments in legislation and other related news, then I post the important ones on the internet or send e-mails out. Then I answer enquiries from industry or government, put together guidance, and generally work with people about how to make life easier for industry while making sure that food remains safe and good to eat.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

Satisfaction comes when I see a piece of legislation or a procedure that makes food safer or that makes life easier for workers in food businesses, and I realise that it happened partly because of my contribution.

What do your friends and family think about your job?

My friends and family think it’s quite exciting to know a food scientist. However when I talk to them about anything related to food they are my fiercest critics.

Tell us more about your environment in terms of work-life balance.

Having a desk-based job, I don’t go out to food businesses and ‘get my hands dirty’ as much as I’d like to. On the up side, I work from home much of the time, which means I have more time to be with my family and I can be flexible with my work. I get my hours in though! I tend to travel out to meetings about once a week.

How did you get to where you are today?

I worked in a food analysis laboratory while doing my first degree, then, after working abroad, I took my food technology Masters degree. The university helped me get a technical job in a sugar factory. Then I worked abroad again (with fish), came back to the UK and eventually ended up working in legislation.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of following your path?

I think it’s important to get a good background in food production. Nothing can take the place of working in a food factory and experiencing the technical, economic, logistical and even administrative conditions under which food is produced. Once you’ve gained that experience you’ll have a much clearer picture of how the industry works and what particular aspects interest you.

How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for someone in your field, and how much can this be expected to rise?

My job is quite well compensated even though salaries in the food industry tend to be quite squeezed. Jobs in food legislation are not common but they can be well paid if you have some experience behind you.

What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax?

Probably because I have a desk job, I tend to do a lot of exercise in my spare time – cycling mostly, but also walking and playing outside with my children. I compensate for this healthy lifestyle by watching football on TV and drinking beer.

Have there been any embarrassing moments?

There have not been many embarrassing moments, or perhaps I have become thick skinned. I think the worst you can do is assume that you’re particularly clever, especially when talking to people working on the shop floor. You’d be amazed how much you can learn from them.