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Parminder Kaur, Tegel Foods
|In a nutshell:||Testing chicken products for bacteria to make sure they are safe to eat.|
|Why?||“I get to do what I love and enjoy doing, and I’m part of highly experienced and qualified team. Above all, I am always learning and improving.”|
Pathway high school in India, Year 13: Biology, Chemistry, Maths, English
University in India: Bachelor of Science
Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT): Graduate Diploma in Laboratory Technology
Parminder Kaur has long been fascinated by the image of scientists peering down microscopes. “I always wanted to wear a white coat and work in a lab environment,” she says. “Science is my ultimate career path, where I can work and develop my skills at the same time.”
“At school I enjoyed science, biology in particular. Most of the subjects I took are very much relevant to what I do every day in the lab, and the basic techniques that we learnt at school have been very useful.”
Parminder is part of a team that makes sure that Tegel’s chicken products are safe to eat before they go out in the supermarket shelves. Her work involves checking samples for harmful bacteria and monitoring the processing environment to ensure it is free from microorganisms. They also perform shelf life trials to ensure that the ‘best before’ date on the packaging is accurate.
She enjoys the variety of her work. The members of her team rotate around the various roles, so each week she might be responsible for receiving and logging the samples, preparing and processing the samples, or analysing the results and producing reports.
“And the following week I could be helping whoever needs any extra pair of hands, so it really is different each day and each week,” she says. “Although most of my work is in the laboratory, we do get to visit the various farms, feed mills and chicken hatcheries in order to train the people who collect the samples.”
“Looking for different bacteria is very interesting, but it’s not always enough to know that there is some kind of nasty bacteria in the sample – we need to know exactly what type it is and how it got into the product. How it can be removed is the most important thing to work out.”
Her current job is developing skills that could take Parminder in many different directions in the future. “I could become a lab manager, a quality or research technician, a food safety officer or a compliance manager,” she says. “There are so many options.”
Posted February 2012