Seminar provides insights into local herbs for better health  

With the aim to facilitate knowledge sharing and create an exposure on the many health benefits of the local herbs among the local community as well as the students and staff of the university, UTAR Centre for Bio-Diversity Research (CBR), parked under the Faculty of Science, successfully organised the “Local Herbs Day III: Herbs for Better Health” on 19 October 2019 at its Kampar Campus. 

                                     Dr Lim (third from left) and Dr Teh (third from right) with organising committee, speakers and participants  

Held for the third time, the one-day seminar themed, ‘Herbs for Better Health’ saw the participation of more than 100 participants from within and outside the campus.

                                                                                   Dr Teh explaining the benefits of local herbs  

 Welcoming the participants in her speech, Organising Chairperson Dr Teh Lai Kuan said, “As the continuation of Local Herbs Day II which was held last year, CBR is organising Local Herbs Day III this year to enlighten the public, staff and students of UTAR about the uses of herbs in healthcare through talks and demonstrations.” She explained, “Herbs are mainly referred to as herbaceous plants that are valued for their savoury, aromatic and medicinal qualities. We choose to use herbs for better health as well as in culinary, skincare and hair care due to their effectiveness, safety and cost-effective that can complement synthetised pharmaceutical drugs. With the proper use of local herbs, it will definitely change our lives in the best and most enjoyable way possible.”

Speakers (clockwise from top left): Chong, Tajuddin, Lai, Stella and Wyland Kiang  

 The seminar kick-started with a talk series and it was divided into two sessions. The first two talks were conducted by Registered Member of Malaysian Chinese Medical Association (MCMA)-cum-UTAR Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences lecturer Chong Kuen Yen and Freelance Agriculturist Haji Tajuddin bin Abdul Manap on “Herbs in Skincare and Hair Care” and “Urban Herbal Garden as Initiative for Ex-situ Conversation of Plants Collections” respectively.

In her talk, the first speaker Chong focused on the native uses of local herbs that are commonly used to treat skin diseases. She described, “Malaysia is rich in tropical rainforest that is occupied with various flora including herbal plants. In Malaysia, there are more than 2,000 plant species that have been reported to use as medicines and in the therapies by many strata of the society and generation.”

Meanwhile, in his talk, Tajuddin emphasised, “Urban dwellers today are becoming more health-conscious towards the benefits of natural products, such as selecting herbal plants in their daily lives, either to be used as food, medicine or supplements. This has led to an increase in the number of people taking proactive measures to develop herbal gardens in urban areas based on two themes-culinary or medicine. This positive development not only promotes the planting of herbs but also improves the understanding and appreciation of the properties and scientific evidence behind the uses of these herbs.”

The third talk was delivered by the founders of Herbeco (M) Sdn Bhd Stella Kiang and Wyland Kiang. In their talk, both highlighted, “Herbs have many roles, which can be explored as spices, essential oil for skin care and foods for our daily intake.” The talk stressed more on the exploration and discovering of herbs and flowers as the taste for healthy diet.

Last but not least, the fourth talk was delivered by Jeannette Lai Wai Shan. The talk titled “Discovery on Tiger’s Milk Mushroom” focused on Tiger Milk Mushroom also known as the Malaysian Lost National Treasure. She explained, “Tiger Milk Mushroom is a medicinal mushroom that can only be found in the rainforest, especially in Malaysia. It was once thought to be uncultivable. However, with the advancement of biotechnology and almost eight years of effort, in year 2009, the Tiger Milk Mushroom was successfully cultivated by a scientist team.” The talk highlighted more on the benefits of Tiger Milk Mushroom and its medicinal values.

                                                                                Some of the mini demonstrations held during the seminar    

 The afternoon session was followed by a series of demonstrations on the use of herbs in culinary, skincare and hair care. The demonstrations were presented by Dr Tan Gim Cheong from the Department of Allied Health Sciences, Chung Kok Heung from the Department of Agricultural and Food Science, Dr Annaletchumy Loganathan from the Department of Allied Health Sciences, Tay Guo Xuan from Magna Nova Sdn Bhd and Wyland Kiang from Herbeco (M) Sdn Bhd. Among the products created and tried throughout the demonstrations were clear herbal soap, wormwood ginger stew eggs, herbal cough drops, herbal shower paste, poolan face mask, DIY herbal mouthwash, and flowers and pineapple salad.

                                                                                            Dr Lim delivering his closing remarks  

In his closing remarks, FSc Dean Assoc Prof Dr Lim Tuck Meng expressed his gratitude to the organising committee, speakers, sponsors and participants for their support. “Local Herbs Day event has taught us about this wonderful use of herbs and has encouraged the sharing of knowledge on many useful herbs. The event has been continued by a team of dedicated staff with the passion to propagate knowledge in the society. I wish to thank them for this good effort which brings us this interesting and useful event. The Local Herbs Day III has gathered some local practitioners of herbs and featured culinary as well as healthcare product demonstrations.” He added, “We in UTAR are fortunate to have supporters that are willing to help with technical know-how and financially for events. I believe such events will benefit all who participate in it.”

Besides talks, mini demonstrations and workshops, there were also exhibitions and stalls selling herbal products and foods.

                                                The participants learning about the herbs through the exhibition  

Insights on goat husbandry practices

Front row, third from right: Mohd Nizam, Liew, Dr Lim and Dr Kwong with participants  

With the aim to educate participants on good goat husbandry practices, the course on “Goat Husbandry Practices (Level 1)” was co-organised by Department of Veterinary Services Perak and Centre for Biodiversity Research of Faculty of Science (FSc) on 18 July 2019 at UTAR Kampar Campus.

Present at the course were FSc Dean Assoc Prof Dr Lim Tuck Meng, Ketua Pegawai Veterinar Daerah Kampar dan Kinta Liew Chun Sen, Organising Chairperson Dr Kwong Phek Jin, and esteemed speakers Ketua Unit Rusa Ladang Inforternak Sungai Siput Mohd Nizam bin Tahar and Pegawai Veterinar Bahagian Pembangunan Industri Ternakan Dr Norsuhanna binti Mohd Mokhtar. Over 100 participants attended the course. The crowd consisted of experienced farmers, beginners of goat farming, and Year One Bachelor of Science (Hons) Agricultural Science students.

 Dr Lim delivering his speech

Dr Lim, in his speech, expressed his thanks to the Department of Veterinary Services Perak for the opportunity to co-organise this event. “Since the inception of the Agricultural and Food Science Programme, we have continuously promoted and fostered research collaboration, offered advice and contributed to society. Today’s event is also one of the many beneficial platforms that we utilised to learn from one another while encouraging lifelong learning,” said Dr Lim.

Mohd Nizam listing the common purposes of goat farming

The first speaker Mohd Nizam shed light on “Goat Farming Management”. He emphasised the importance for participants to identify the purpose of their goat farming. He explained that a portion of people rears goats to provide food needs to consumers through its meat and milk. Others rear goats to be sold to other farmers and consumers, as well as for breeding purposes. He also mentioned that there are individuals who rear goats as a hobby and they are known as hobby farmers. Hobby farmer, as described by the speaker, is someone who rears goats as a form of investment, whereby they can opt to sell their goats when they are in need of extra finances.

 Further into the talk, he listed the four management systems in goat farming. The first system is tethering (bertambat). It is a system where the goats are tied around their pen or environs of their pen in the daytime and are kept in their pens of sheds in the night time. One of the common ways of tethering the goats is by tying them to one peg. The pegs will be shifted a few times in a day to a different location to offer goats fresh grazing. This system is feasible for small herd ranging from two to ten goats.

The second system, as explained by Mohd Nizam, is the extensive system whereby the goats are allowed to freely browse and graze the land. Little management is required in this system except allowing the goats to graze during the day and kept in their pens at night. These goats will freely roam about looking for food and water themselves and they can feed on crop residues as well. However, this system has its downside. He explained that farmers using this system will have difficulty in managing the goats and that the goats will lack food nutrients. He also mentioned that the free-roaming goats may cause problems to homeowners or other farmers, as these goats will feed on their plantations.

The speaker recommended the third system, which is the semi-intensive system as the most suitable approach to goat farming in Malaysia. In this system, the goats are allowed to graze at a certain time during the day, in the company of a herdsman, and are confined in their pens at night. The system also ensures that the goats receive supplements in their diet to overcome dietary deficiencies from the additional (if necessary) stall feeding.

The final system is the intensive system. He explained that farmers using this system confine the goats to their sheds and the goats are fed in the shed. The bucks are also separated from the does to avoid uncontrolled mating, while the kids are kept in another shed. The goats are also fed with grasses and crop residues, which is aimed to fatten the goats.

In preparing for goat farming, Mohd Nizam highlighted a number of important aspects for participants to consider. Before an area can be converted into a goat farm, the speaker highlighted that farmers must carefully consider the layout of the farm; dimensions of the shed or pen to ensure that the goats are comfortable and not overcrowded; management of manpower; and food and medicinal supplies.

Upon receiving the livestock at the farm, the speaker advised that farmers must inspect the goats to check for any open wounds and to identify symptoms of illnesses. If the mentioned conditions are present, he advised that farmers must isolate and treat the unhealthy goats first. Anti-stress medicine that is mixed into the drinking water is also given to the new herd. Other cautionary steps taken by farmers in caring for the new herd include separating them from the existing herd; keeping the new herd in the shed for at least two weeks, also known as the quarantine period; constantly monitoring the health condition of the new herd; and ensuring that new herd is calm and not disturbed. During the quarantine period, the goats are given anti-stress medicine consecutively for 10 days and are fed greeneries for four consecutive days while new food is slowly incorporated into their diet. He further elucidated that the health programme a farmer conducts starts 14 days after the arrival of the new herd. Under the health programme, samples from ill goats are taken for laboratory testing to determine the cause and farmers are advised to have post-mortem done on deceased goats to identify the cause of death. Towards the end of the talk, he also advised participants to ensure the cleanliness of the farm and shed for the benefit of the goats and herders.

 Dr Norsuhanna emphasising the importance to take preventive measures

Liew delivering his closing speech

The second session saw speaker Dr Norsuhanna speaking on “Management and Prevention of Goat’s Diseases”. Prior to the explanation of the various types of diseases that were commonly reported, she highlighted the importance of managing and preventing goat’s diseases. The importance included preventing further loss to the herders, preventing the spread of certain diseases to humans, preventing the lack of border control between states and preventing the sudden rise of prices. She stated that diseases found in sick goats were usually contracted via a virus, bacteria, parasite, metabolically, and mismanagement. Some diseases were known to spread from touch, airborne, vector, and from the farm tools used. The risk of transmission is higher through the mating process, relocation of goats and birthing. The basic steps for herders to take precautionary prevention of diseases taught by the speaker were ensuring the cleanliness of the farm, limiting mobility in and out of the farm and applying good disposal practices.

Among the common diseases that Dr Norsuhanna mentioned were pneumonia, contagious ecthyma, diarrhoea, foot rot, ruminal tympany, infected wounds and worm infection. For each disease, she explained the causes and treatments. Due to the limited amount of time, she advised participants to study further about the diseases she spoke from the guidebook provided.

When asked of the motivation to organise this course, Dr Kwong said, “Malaysia’s self-sufficiency level for goat production is only 11%. Most of the chevon consumed in Malaysia relied on importation. Thus, there is potential for this industry to improve. Furthermore, among the red meat, chevon has lower cholesterol and the milk is easier to digest with higher calcium and mineral content. Therefore, we hope that the knowledge received from this course will help those who would like to venture into goat farming and also encourage the younger generation to involve in this livestock farming business for the national food security purposes.”

She added, “This course introduced students, researchers, livestock industry players and the public to the proper goat husbandry practices guideline set by the Department of Veterinary Services, Malaysia. It was also an educational platform for students and the public to learn the importance of engaging a proper livestock farming approach while keeping in mind of the food security goal; at the same time reducing the impact towards the environment. It was also a platform for intellectual exchange amongst the academic institutions, livestock industry players and the government agency on the issue and challenges faced by the livestock industry in Malaysia.”      

The course came to an end with a closing speech from Liew. He expressed his thanks to UTAR for co-organising this event. He mentioned that event such as this was important to educate herders and the public about goat husbandry practices. “Apart from learning about good goat husbandry practices, in a world that is becoming more digital and with more technological advances, this event is also a good platform for you to learn about the latest technology used in livestock farming. It may not be widely used but in time, these technologies will assist farmers and improve farm management,” said Liew.

Participants listening attentively

Creating a brighter future for plant science and agriculture

 Front row from left: Prof Murata, Prof Sato, Dr Mohamad, Prof Faidz, Dr Lim, Prof Jennifer, Dr Song and Dr Wong  

Looking into improving crop production to feed the increasing world population and ensuring food security for all, the 18th Agriculture Technology Seminar Series gathered six esteemed speakers and over 100 participants to discuss the seminar’s theme ‘The Future of Plant Science and Agriculture”. Jointly organised by Centre for Biodiversity Research (CBR), Faculty of Science (FSc) and Institute of Postgraduate Studies and Research (IPSR), the seminar kick-started with a positive note at UTAR Kampar Campus on 22 June 2019.

The seminar was attended by UTAR Vice President for R&D and Commercialisation Prof Ts Dr Faidz bin Abd Rahman, FSc Dean Assoc Prof Dr Lim Tuck Meng, CBR Chairperson Dr Wong Wey Lim and Organising Chairperson Prof Dr Minoru Murata.

The invited speakers were Barley and Wild Plant Resource Center Head of Institute of Plant Science Resources, Okayama University Prof Dr Kazuhiro Sato; Director of Advanced Biotechnology and Breeding Centre (ABBC) of Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) Dr Mohamad Arif Abd Manaf; Senior Lecturer from Monash University Malaysia Dr Song Beng Keh; Director of Centre for Research in Biotechnology for Agriculture (CEBAR) of University of Malaya Prof Dr Jennifer Ann Harikrishna; Manager of Group Plantation Advisory Department of Genting Plantations Berhad, Kuala Lumpur Dr Cheng Cong Rong; and CropLife Asia Singapore Executive Director Dr Tan Siang Hee.

                        From left: Prof Faidz and Prof Murata delivering their speeches  

“Crop production has taken unprecedented prominence today due to the progressive increase of the world population. The United Nations has reported that the human population is expected to increase from the current world population of 7.3 billion to 8.5 billion by 2030, and 9.7 billion by 2050. This makes it necessary for us to improve our ability to supply food to meet the needs of the expanding population. This also means that crop or food production will have to increase by 75% or more, using the same, if not smaller, land area that we presently have for agriculture. Therefore, this seminar will pay special attention to the importance of the roles played by plant science and agriculture in increasing crop production to feed the world in the future,” said Prof Faidz.

He added, “Recent advances in plant science and agriculture research have helped to deepen our understanding on how to grow plants that produce better yields. We have already applied some of these research findings to solve some of the pressing problems in agriculture and they have been crucial in ensuring global crop and food sufficiency. Nevertheless, in our endeavour to increase efficiency and productivity, agriculture today still faces a few challenges in addressing the negative impacts it has on the environment. For instance, its sustainability as well as its effect on climate change and biodiversity. I hope this seminar will not only bring solutions to overcome some of these issues, but also establish collaboration for expanding research in plant science and agriculture.”

“I am glad that we are able to continue organising this seminar, which was started by Prof Dr Peter Ooi Aun Chuan. As we organised this seminar with the aim to provide participants with a platform to share new methods and knowledge in research, we also aim to be able to contribute to the development in plant science and agriculture. With six esteemed speakers present in our midst, we are very fortunate to learn new findings and answers to issues that are faced by consumers and farmers. We will also be learning more about the recent topics in plant science which might be novel in Malaysia,” said Prof Murata

Top row, from left: Prof Sato, Dr Mohamad and Dr Song
Bottom row, from left: Prof Jennifer, Dr Cheng and Dr Tan  

 The first speaker was Prof Sato, who shared his research titled “Plant Genetic Resources and Our Lives”. His presentation highlighted the importance of plant genetic resources in our lives. He also pointed out that genetic diversity in seed crops can be efficiently stored in the genebanks and that genetic diversity is a key to improve trait for industrial importance. His research has also proven that orthologous genes may control trains in both barley and wheat as demonstrated in seed dormancy.

Dr Mohamad presented his research titled “Oil Palm: Trailblazing the Agribiotech Frontier”. His research provided insights into the application of technology in creating sustainable agriculture. He shared that DNA-centred diagnostics tools have been developed and introduced to boost the productivity of oil palms. Meanwhile, gene editing holds promise in further enhancing palm oil’s versatility in both the food and non-food industry. Participants also learnt about the oil palm industry adopting the use of big data and blockchain technology for establishing a traceable system across the palm oil supply chain, which also reinforces the industry’s commitment towards sustainable practices.

Dr Song, with his research titled “When West Meets East: Genomics and Population Genetics of Weedy Rice” studied the evolutionary mechanism and establishment of the invasive species, weeds or weedy rice. Findings from the research will be useful for advising farmers appropriately in strategies for controlling the spread of weedy rice. The findings also highlight the implications of weedy rice contamination in Southeast Asia and the urgent need for preventive measures for sustainable yield in rice crop.

The presentation by Prof Jennifer, with her research titled “Bananas for A Stressful Future: microRNA-regulated Stress Response”, emphasised the importance of improving understanding of plant stress biology through genomic and transcriptomic analyses, which has also led to the identification of several candidate stress-responsive genes that can be useful for crop improvement. Her team of researchers has also developed mRNA, sRNA and degradome transcriptomes from stress exposed banana roots to identify miRNA-regulated transcripts and transcription factor networks related to drought and salinity stress.

With Dr Cheng sharing from his research titled “Technological Innovations for Oil Palm Plantations during a Time of Weaker CPO Prices”, participants were informed of the agriculture sector moving towards industry 4.0, focusing on digital technologies, such as internet of things (IoT), drone imaging and artificial intelligence (AI). He mentioned that there is still a lacking of technological innovations for automation in oil palm plantations but the adoption of data-driven decision making has improved.

The final presentation by Dr Tan, on his research titled “Feeding Asia in the Age of Scepticism over Science” shed light on the importance of communicating ethically the facts on food safety topics. He mentioned that Asia’s farmers, industry, consumers, civil society, media members, governments and all food value chain stakeholders have a shared responsibility to ensure food safety discussions keep a keen focus on facts and science, rather than fear and sensationalised stories. Though he noted that it was not an easy task, it is critically important to make certain consumer confidence in the safety of food in Asia supported by science.

Souvenir presentations to the speakers by Prof Peter Ooi (top) and Dr Lim  

 The seminar came to an end with a closing speech by Dr Lim. “We started this seminar series back in 2010. In 2011, we started the agricultural science programme and the seminar was a promotion for agricultural activities in Kampar Campus, which was meant to support the agricultural activities of the Northern Region. It supplied much food to the whole of Malaysia and it was important,” said Dr Lim. 

Dr Lim thanking participants and speakers in his closing speech  

 He also praised the alumni who attended to share their knowledge and experience. He also thanked the supportive participants for their continuous support since the first seminar was organised. The participants were also encouraged to write in their suggestions and recommendations to the faculty to allow more discussion on the suggested topics.

“The presentation on the application of technology was very interesting. We come from the palm oil industry and we have been looking into this for some time now. It was a good seminar because we received much information on how to use technology to improve the palm oil industry, at the same time, we were also made aware of the policies pertaining to technological usage in plantation,” said Ooi Thiam Hue, Kampar Estate Manager of Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad.

Another participant who also expressed her interest in the use of technology and artificial intelligence in agriculture. “I very much agree with what Dr Cheng spoke because there is a need to move forward. In the past, we have been using conventional agricultural methods, but the opportunities to integrate technology into this field is increasing. I hope we will be able to build mutual collaboration with interested researchers, especially for our startup company. We want to be able to use technology to contribute to the agriculture field,” said Surya Hani binti Abdul Hamid, Managing Director of Solusi UAV Plt. She was accompanied by her colleague, Jamilah binti Basri, Sales and Marketing Director.

Click here to read about the full abstracts and presenters’ profiles. 

Participants interacting  

Committee members and student helpers at the end of the event 

Read about the previous seminars below:

AgriTech Seminar Series XVII 

Livestock Farming: Sustainability and Productivity 

Seminar to promote organic farming in Malaysia  

MIFT 11th National Food Science and Technology Competition

Opening ceremony of the competition

UTAR and the Centre for Biodiversity Research of the Faculty of Science (FSc) hosted the Malaysia Institute of Food Technology (MIFT) 11th National Food Science and Technology Competition from 6 to 7 April 2019 at UTAR Kampar Campus. It was organised by MIFT.

The competition kick-started with an opening ceremony, which saw the presence of FSc Dean Assoc Prof Dr Lim Tuck Meng representing UTAR President Ir Prof Academician Dato’ Dr Chuah Hean Teik, President of MIFT Dr Koh Yew Ming, Centre for Biodiversity Research Chairperson Dr Wong Wey Lim, Organising Chairperson Dr Ong Mei Kying, MIFT Council Members, staff and participants.

The competition was participated by 16 universities including UTAR. The other 15 participating universities were Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), Monash University Malaysia, Management and Science University (MSU), Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), Taylor’s University, UCSI University, University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). 

Dr Ong delivering her speech 

“We are very honoured to be given the opportunity to host this competition that showcases the innovativeness and talents of food science students. The MIFT National Food Science and Technology Competition serves as a platform for undergraduate and postgraduate students of food science, food technologist, food biotechnologist and nutritionist from private and public universities to meet, learn from each other and exchange ideas. The competition will also promote various core skills, including communication and critical thinking skills,” said Dr Ong in her speech. 

Dr Lim delivering his speech

“I would like to thank MIFT for the opportunity to host this 11th MIFT National Food Science and Technology Competition. It is a very significant event for our undergraduate and postgraduate students to explore new perspectives in food science and technology area. I understand that there will be five sub-competitions, namely “Postgraduate Research Paper Competition (poster)”, “Postgraduate Research Paper Competition (oral)”, “Undergraduate Oratory Competition”, “Undergraduate Food Bowl Quiz”, and “Innovative Food Product Development Competition”. These sub-competitions are not only important to spark your competitive spirit, but also boosts your critical and creative thinking skills,” said Dr Lim.

He added, “Apart from developing a research culture among students, the sub-competitions are also a useful platform for you to improve communication skills as you interact with other teams. This will establish a wide network among students, researchers and industry. As you compete with other teams, you need to bear in mind that it is not about winning, but more on what you are able to learn and apply from your experience throughout this competition. I would like to highlight one extra and important skill that you will also gain from participating in this competition - analytical skill. As researchers, this skill is very important because you need to identify and analyse the problem, further proposing effective and viable solutions.”

Dr Lim also pointed out some global issues that mankind is currently facing and urged all participants to take up their roles and responsibilities as future food science technologists to come up with effective solutions. He also urged participants to start thinking on how to create a sustainable food system to solve insufficient food supply due to the growing world population.

“So use this competition as an opportunity to relearn things that you thought you have already known; look at it from a different perspective. Extract the important aspects as you interact and compete with other teams,” advised Dr Lim.

Dr Koh expressing his delight on the increased participation during his speech

“I am very delighted to see so many participants joining this competition. Back in 2003, when the first competition took place, we only had two participating universities. Today, the number has increased eight times and we are very happy to receive participation from 16 universities. This is the highest record of participation so far, and I am looking forward to more participation in the next competition. Your participation is also a great testimony to showcase that the programme is indeed relevant to the food industries and country, and for producing high-quality graduates that will ensure safe food for consumers in Malaysia. Therefore, this event is meant to support students because we believe students are the future leaders. We proudly do so by promoting long-term strategy with the objectives to feed the world in a healthy, sustainable and profitable manner. The competition also offers students a showcase with competition and exceptional networking opportunities in a truly informal and supportive environment. So make the most out of it,” said Dr Koh in his speech. He also thanked UTAR’s organising committee for all the effort in ensuring the success of the competition. 

Opening ceremony officiated by (from left) Dr Ong, Dr Koh and Dr Lim

The five sub-competitions held were Postgraduate Research Paper Competition (Oral), Postgraduate Research Paper Competition (Poster), Innovative Food Product Development Competition, Oratory Competition (no photography was allowed) and Food Bowl Quiz. 

 Left: Dr Koh giving a talk on improving food safety standards in Malaysia

Right: Manida introducing the new technologies used for food analysis

Two talks were also held at the event. The first talk was delivered by Dr Koh who spoke on “Food Analyst Act 2011 and Regulation 2013: Moving towards higher food safety standard through empowerment”. His talk highlighted the importance of law in monitoring and evaluating the competency of people in carrying out food analysis. He also mentioned that the council will continuously monitor registered food analyst and meet every three months to evaluate the works done by the food analysts. He also educated the participants on the Annual Practicing Certificate. Without this certificate, it would be an offence for people to practice food analysis. He pointed out that the certificate is renewed annually and is subjected to specific requirements, and that applicants must prove continuous competency. He also listed the opportunities for one who obtains the certificate, which included, recognition of qualification, public confidence, marketability and empowerment.

The second talk, titled “Digital Integration and Traceability in Modernised Food Safety Testing” was delivered by Arachem (M) Sdn Bhd representative Manida Chapkiau. Her talk aimed to introduce the most advanced technology available in food safety analysis that is currently used by the industry in producing safer food. The examples of technologies that the speaker introduced were Lightning MVP Icon, Ridasmart, Ridacube and Crest/ICE.

The Lightning MVP Icon uses ATP technology to monitor hygiene of the product. It automatically identifies the problem and gives instant data on the product monitored. The Ridasmart is a smartphone application (app), produced by R-Biopharm AG, that enables a person to do laboratory analysis in a quick, smart and convenient way. Meanwhile, the Ridacube, which is also a product of R-Biopharm AG, enables the user to conduct biochemical testing with RFID touch technology. The last technology introduced was the Automated Immunoaffinity Sample Clean Up, which is time and labour saving; increases reproducibility; improves traceability; improves quality control; and is auto injection. 

 From left: Dr Lim and Dr Koh delivering their closing speeches

The 11th MIFT National Food Science and Technology Competition 2019 ended with a closing ceremony and awards presentation. Present at the closing ceremony were Dr Lim, Dr Koh and MIFT Council Members, Dr Ong, staff and participants.

“Congratulations to all winners, and to the rest, I applaud you for your effort and hard work in this competition. All participants have taken up the challenge and that is a very good effort. Regardless of whether you win or not, it is about the effort you put in to improve yourself. This improvement is very important and we need it all along our lives. Hence, your participation is more important than winning the competition because to prepare for the competition, you had to learn a lot and this experience will not be gained if you have not participated nor taken up the challenges,” said Dr Lim in his speech.

He continued, “I also thank all participants who have travelled from afar; thank you for your enthusiasm. The United Nations has reminded the governments of all countries that sustainability is important for all of us, for our future and the generations to come. For this competition, you have proven your understanding of sustainability as you tried your best to conserve resources and reduce the use of materials that would harm the environment. You have even made more friends and build important networks. Once again, thank you to MIFT for this opportunity to host the competitions as well as to the sponsors for making this event a success,” said Dr Lim.

Meanwhile, Dr Koh, in his speech, expressed his appreciation to UTAR and the committee involved in making the competition a smooth one. He also encouraged all participants to sign up as MIFT members. “I am glad that the competition had provided an avenue for all participants to make friends and to hang out with each other despite the tense moment. I saw smiley faces and laughter and I am glad that everyone enjoyed the competition and most importantly, gained experience,” said Dr Koh. At the end of his speech, he announced that TAR UC will be the host for the 12th MIFT National Food Science and Technology Competition, which will be held in 2021.

The list of winners for the five sub-competitions is as below:

Winners (from second left): Foo, Seow, Nadiah

Postgraduate Research Paper Competition (Oral) 

Champion: Seow Eng Keng (USM)                    Textural and Structural Breakdown Properties of Flour Gels and Dodol as Influenced by Honey Bee or Kelutut Bee Honey 

 2nd place: Nadiah Ramlan (UKM)
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Modified surfaces Targeted to Reduce Powder Stickiness in Spray Drying Process 

3rd place: Jenny Foo Pei Yan (UCSI University)
Biocomposite using Stale Bread Incorporated with Sodium Alginate, Gellan gum, and Glycerol: Optimisation and Effect of Electron Beam Irradiation 

Winners from left: Rumaisa, Yong, and Fazleen (second from right) 

Postgraduate Research Paper Competition (Poster) 

Champion: Rumaisa Nordin (USM)
Comparative Assessment on Black Tea Quality between Superheated Steam and Conventional Dryer

2nd place: Yong Hui Yin (USM)
The Effects of Gums on the Rheological and Textural Properties of Textured-Modified Rice Porridge

3rd place: Fazleen Izzany Abu Bakar (UTHM)            Euphorbia Hirta (Ara Tanah) Tea as Functional Drink for Anti-Gout

Winners from second left: Loong, Parithyi and Sia

Oratory Competition 

Champion: Parithyi Murali Tharan (UMT)

2nd place: Loong Ye Heng (USM)

3rd place: Zachary Sean Sia (Taylor’s University) 

Winning teams from left: UCSI University, UniSZA, and Taylor’s University

Innovative Food Product Development Competition 

Champion: Taylor’s University
Product: Crunchy Jackfruit Rag Cookies

2nd place: UniSZA
Product: VEFLOSS

3rd place: UCSI University
Product: Jujubest 

From left: Top scorers and top three teams

 Food Bowl Quiz  

Top scorers 

Champion: Chuah Sin Yian (USM) 

2nd places: Lim Pei Yiin (Monash University), Su Pick Kiong (UPM), Kong Yi Lin (UTAR)

Overall team

Champion: UMS Team A

2nd place: USM Team A

3rd place: USM Team B

For more photos, click here

About MIFT

MIFT is a non-profit professional body of food technologists and educators in the field of food science and technology, and other individuals involved in areas of work closely related to food technology. MIFT is the only non-governmental organisation in Malaysia that brings together food scientists and technologists.

The organisation of the National Food Science and Technology Competition are in line with MIFT's objectives to stimulate scientific and technological  research in various aspects of Food Technology; to provide a medium for the exchange, discussion, publication and dissemination of information on various aspects of Food Technology; and to promote the profession through raising educational standards, promoting the scientific approach to food, and increasing public awareness of the basic role of the Food Technologists in the industry.

Since 2003, the Malaysian Institute of Food Technology (MIFT), together with a host university have been organising the MIFT Food Science & Technology Seminar biennially.  This event brings Food Science and Technology, Food Science and Nutrition, Food Science and Biotechnology students from the public and private universities together in a series of friendly competitions at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. This Seminar’s objectives are to develop research culture in FST students; to enhance competitive spirit; to boost critical thinking skills; to improve communication skills; to promote interaction among the students and to stimulate accumulation and retention of knowledge.

Since this competition first started in the year 2003 with only 2 universities competing, the number of participating universities has increased to 14 as of the year 2015 with over 400 students in attendance for the 2 day event. For 2017, the name of the event has been changed to MIFT National Food Science and Technology Competition to better reflect the nature of the event.

Esteemed educators and experts from the industry judge the various events with stringent guidelines of the competition. MIFT is involved in this process to ensure a fair and impartial competition. The winners of the Postgraduate Oral Competition and Food Bowl Quiz go on to compete in the prestigious ASEAN Food Conference and thereby gain much more exposure in an South East Asian platform.

Event: FSc and FEGT Postgraduate Colloquium 2019

Date: 26 - 27 January 2019

Organizers: FSc, FEGT and Centre for Bio-Diversity Research, UTAR Kampar campus

Opening ceremony of FSc and FEGT Postgrduate Colloquium 2019  

Dr Yap (Dean of FEGT, UTAR) delivering his opening speech  

Keynote speaker Dr Sukganah (Sime Darby) giving an introduction about her research

Keynote speaker Dr Yorozuya (Public Works Research Institute, Japan) presenting findings from his research

 Invited speakers (from left) Dr Leong (FEGT), Dr Sin (FEGT), and Dr Tan (FSc) presenting their research

Dr Lim (Dean of FSc, UTAR) delivering his closing speech

Winners of Best Presenters (clockwise from top left)- Ong (FSc), Quek (FEGT), Wai Keat (FSc) and Si Jing (FSc)