Getting to Know Rosemary Walzem November 2017

Rosemary Walzem
Curiosity was the key to attracting IFT member Rosemary Walzem, a professor of nutritional biochemistry at Texas A&M University, to a role she has embraced for the past decade—IFT’s Codex Subject Expert to the Codex Committee on Nutrition & Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), a committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international food standards organization.

“I am a bench scientist with clinical experience,” Walzem explains. “Working in the realm of Codex allowed me to learn about regulatory and food trade as well as introduce me to a whole different group of professionals.” The experience has added depth and breadth to her perspective on food and the food industry as well as insights into the ways in which cultural differences and trade status among countries impact perspectives on how to go forward effectively to ensure safe food for everyone.

Walzem says her experience with Codex has also helped her to strengthen some skills that she applies in her academic role. “To successfully participate in the Codex process, you must establish a strong rationale for the positions you advocate or oppose and document your premise for that rationale with sound science,” she says. “This is entirely consistent with the aims of IFT and my own values as a nutrition scientist. Codex committees are very large; in my committee, there are often over 300 individuals from pretty much every country in addition to many non-governmental organizations, such as IFT. Listening to and integrating all these voices to achieve consensus is a skill learned through practice. This skill has helped me in my day-to-day job as an academic, where committee work is pretty much a way of life.”

She adds that her work on CCNFSDU has also provided an introduction to food science topics that are new to her and enabled her to gain expertise from other IFT members.

Asked about her most meaningful experiences with Codex, Walzem noted that “the most impactful experience happens every year at the end of the meeting with the sense of camaraderie that develops among the attendees for the progress made—often after some hard-fought debates.”

Her Codex volunteer work has also led to some fun experiences like watching the “Fish Daddy” dance in Thailand and enjoying excellent sausage at the Frankfurt, Germany, Christmas market. Outside the professional realm, Walzem makes time for Zumba and Body Bar workouts.

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