Today we have a short Q&A with Erisa Troka, a recent graduate from our MSc in Food Business & Technology. We will explore her dissertation, discover why she focused on their particular topic and ask Erisa to share some lessons for future MSc students!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Erisa Troka, I’m from Albania. I finished my education in Albania in 2016, after completing 3 years Bachelor’s in Food Technology and 2 years MSc in Food Engineer. I moved to Ireland in 2017, in 2018 I started my first job in Ireland. I worked as a general operative in a large established meat company. I felt wanted more than just to be a general operative. I showed an interest in the quality side of the business, how to produce a safe product. I had a hunger to learn more and more about quality of product and legislation in relation to food. In September 2018 I started a Level 8 Food Science in Innopharma Education, (at that time I had virtually no English, and I had to use google translate go through every lecture. I cannot count how many times I thought of giving up, but without realizing it, I was making progress at work and with college at the same time. I was moved from being a general operative to the quality department of the company. It was very difficult between the new role in the company and college commitments and there were days when I felt I would not make it, but the knowledge I was gaining from this course kept pushing me forward to better my career. After finishing the Level 8 course I felt a lot more confident in my role in the company. My English had improved, and I had gained a lot more knowledge of Food Quality and Safety. I received an offer as a Quality Manager in another company. The new company was involved with food but was different than what I was previously doing. There would be a lot more responsibility involved with my new role and wasn’t sure if it was the right time to start another course, but I really wanted to further my career. I did the application, and I got the place to study with Innopharma/TU Dublin in Level 9 MSc Food Business and Technology. My work experience made this course more enjoyable. At the time it was challenging, between trying to carry out my daily work and studying. There was a commitment involved but I never gave up and looking back now I can say I would not change anything in the last 5 years working and studying at the same time.
Why did you choose to study with Innopharma and TU Dublin?
The company I previously worked for would occasionally organise courses for upgrading certain employees. This was done through a person that had mutual connection between company and Innopharma Education, so when the company gave me the offer to do a course in Food Science I was apprehensive at first but after speaking with the representative for Innopharma and TU Dublin and after was explained to me what course would entail and what supports I would have throughout the course I felt more comfortable and was eager participate.
Can you provide a brief overview of your thesis?
My thesis was my own research, I chose to study how to replace salt in food with yeast extract. Research in my thesis showed that daily salt intake is high in relation to daily intake guidelines (recommended). This means that the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart attack are high. To complete this research, I used sample products from my workplace that contains salt, and I replaced salt with yeast extract, this process was done in NPD kitchen. After a number of trials, I got the right concentration of yest extract in product. Samples with salt and yeast extract wasn’t noticed by organoleptic panel. Shelf-life testing was done after the organoleptic testing. The replacement of salt with yeast extract is one of the alternatives. This research and results of this study show that yeast extract gives the same properties and the shelf life of the product.
What inspired you to choose this particular research topic for your thesis?
Working in a food industry and dealing with consumer requirements and Food Legislation on a daily basis made wonder if there is an alternative to replace salt in food and will this alternative work? Health and well-being are prominent concerns in today’s world, with consumers more knowledgeable and conscious around the products they consume. After intensive work with the samples and testing the product to see if the shelf life will be the same, I reached the conclusion that yes there are other alternatives to replace salt in food and one of them is yeast extract.
Did you encounter any challenges or obstacles during your research and, if so, how did you overcome them?
There were few changes during my research: preparing samples with the right concentration of yeast extract (failing on few of the trails), this process took me 2 months, sending the samples for shelf-life testing, putting all the results together was a challenge. When I started this research, I wasn’t sure if replacing salt with yeast extract will work and was a challenge to get through it without knowing if my work will be worth it.
The obstacles during completing my thesis research were:
- To make free time between and after working hours and weekends.
- Cost involved in preparing samples and sending them for testing to an external certified laboratory.
Giving up my personal time, is never easy but I was focused on bettering my career for the future and knew it worth the effort.
My present company assisted in covering the cost of the sampling.
What are the key findings or results of your study, and how do they contribute to the existing body of knowledge in your field?
- Yeast extract is an alternative to replace salt in food.
- Food companies aren’t prepared to meet UK legislation 2025 to reduce salt in food.
- There are other alternatives on the market to replace or reduce salt that will cost less than yeast extract.
What are your goals after graduation?
To have a successful and progressive career and to share my knowledge with others.
Looking back, what advice would you give to other students embarking on a similar dissertation in the field?
Never underestimate yourself. If you really want to pursue something, pursue it, don’t leave it and look back in a few years and say I should have. Have no regrets. We have one life, knowledge is power, and power if freedom. Work hard today to live free tomorrow. If you like it, do it and do your best to get through everything. There is nothing impossible in life. If you have a goal and have the willingness and determined to work hard, you will succeed.
If you are thinking this isn’t the right time for you, there’s never a right time but there’s never a bad time to invest in your education and make a better life for yourself.
Do your best and do it with love.
Thank you, Erisa, for sharing your insights with us today. We extend our best wishes for success in all your future endeavors. You can view Erisa's dissertation on our repository at https://repository.innoskills.com/items/5bacad2f-a2d1-4574-86a3-2fee303f9b54