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Patent
Institute Of Food Research | Date: 2016-09-20

We describe a method of making a prediction of when a tuber will sprout. In some embodiments the method comprises making a measurement of an optical reflectance of the tuber in an eye region of the tuber; making a reference measurement of optical reflectance of the or another tuber, processing the tuber eye measurement in combination with the reference measurement; and making a prediction of when the tuber will sprout in response.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: WASTE-2-2014 | Award Amount: 9.44M | Year: 2015

The overall aim of the REFRESH project is to contribute significantly towards the objective of reducing food waste across the EU by 30% by 2025 (which amounts to between 25 to 40 million tonnes of food not being wasted in 2025[1], worth tens of billions of Euros a year) and maximizing the value from unavoidable food waste and packaging materials. To achieve this ambitious goal, we will adopt a systemic approach and use cutting edge science to enable action by businesses, consumers and public authorities. A central ambition of the REFRESH project is to develop a Framework for Action model that is based on strategic agreements across all stages of the supply chain (backed by Governments), delivered through collaborative working and supported by evidence-based tools to allow targeted, cost effective interventions. Success will support transformation towards a more sustainable and secure EU food system, benefitting Europes economy, environment and society.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRADEV-1-2014 | Award Amount: 3.09M | Year: 2015

RICHFIELDS Research Infrastructure on Consumer Health and Food Intake using E-science with Linked Data Sharing There is growing interest in consumer health as related to food, behaviour and lifestyle determinants. However, data is fragmented, key information is lacking, and the resulting knowledge gap prohibits policy makers and companies to make effective public health nutrition strategies and reformulation of food products. Making the healthy the easy choice requires knowledge on the context of personal life style choices of EU-citizens. RICHFIELDS will design a world-class infrastructure for innovative research on healthy food choice, preparation and consumption of EU-citizens, closely linked to their behaviour and lifestyle. This unique RI will bridge the gap by linking the agri-food and nutrition-health domains and account for the regional and socio-economic diversity of the EU. The RI will be instrumental to produce a scientifically reliable, technically sound and socio-legally robust evidence-base that enables scientists to efficiently collect, unlock, connect and share research data of EU-citizens. Consumers are central to the design: they harbour crucial information, as they increasingly adopt mobile apps and tech-wear, get access to e-business data and even medical information. Collectively, such real-life-time data create new opportunities for research, by e.g., monitoring of food-behaviour providing personalized feedback. For further testing, detailing and underpinning and theory-building, interfaces will be created to distributed facilities for experimental research, e.g., virtual supermarkets. Further enrichment of data is achieved via interfaces with information systems for food and health. The consumer-focus and the scientific evidence of RICHFIELDS will, via its services, be available to (a) EU-consumers and consumer platforms, (b) stakeholders along the food chain, and (c) policy actors in the agri-food and nutrition-health domain.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 437.64K | Year: 2016

The bacterium Salmonella accounts for about 125 million incidents of disease worldwide each year, and nearly a million deaths. The morbidity and mortality caused by this pathogen has a significant impact on the economies of both resource rich and resource poor countries. Most cases of non-typhoidal Salmonella result from fecal contamination of food and food products. A common and therefore critical step for this is the entry of the bacterium into the food chain from livestock and poultry, the common zoonotic reservoir for this pathogen. While a large body of literature describes the mechanisms by which Salmonella establishes infection in the intestine, comparatively little is known about how Salmonella persists. Decreasing the amount of Salmonella in animals at slaughter is important to controlling Salmonella food-borne disease because it is the primary risk factor for introduction of this pathogen into the food chain destined for human consumption. Salmonella uses distinct mechanisms for initial colonisation and persistent colonisation and the latter represent novel targets for approaches to decrease the amount of Salmonella in livestock when they arrive at slaughter. However, in order to develop new approaches it is essential to first identify how Salmonella remains associated with the intestine in the face of competition from good bacteria resident in the intestine and the response by the host animal aimed at clearance of bacterial pathogens. This programme of work will identify all the genes encoded by Salmonella that are involved in the ability of this pathogen to remain in the intestine of livestock for prolonged periods. The relative importance of newly discovered persistence factors in this study and the previously described persistence factors ShdA and MisL will be determined in order to inform the optimal strategy for the design of intervention to decrease Salmonella colonisation. ShdA and MisL are found on the surface of Salmonella where they are known to interact with host proteins but exactly how this contributes to prolonged colonisation of the intestine is not known. We will determine how ShdA and MisL contribute to intestinal persistence, extending on a large body of published work. We will use a combination of an in vivo model of intestinal persistence developed by the applicant, studies on animal cells grown in the lab to determine the impact of ShdA and MisL on interaction of Salmonella with the host, and investigate how these bacterial proteins interact with proteins of the host. The outcome of this study will be a comprehensive overview of the intestinal persistence factors encoded by Salmonella and an understanding of the molecular basis of intestinal persistence mediated by ShdA and MisL. This data analyses will complement efforts by the livestock industry to devise strategies to decrease the incidence of Salmonella carriage that include farm-yard practice and the potential implementation of a vaccine against Salmonella.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 783.09K | Year: 2016

There are a wealth of glycoenzymes in nature but only a small number of enzymatic activities are used in industrial processes, primarily carbohydrate degrading enzymes used in high volume manufacturing such as amylases/xylanases/cellulases/oxidases used in baking/detergents/biofuels. Even fewer examples exist in high value manufacturing applications such as biologics: one example is the production of the therapeutic Cerezyme where alpha-neauramindase is used to deglycosylate exposing terminal Man residues improving its targeting. A major hurdle is the availability of appropriate enzymes which can limit utilisation in the early stage of process development thus reducing the number of successful processes involving glycoenzymes. The present project aims to overcome the current limitations of glycoenzyme availability by bringing together a number of innovative high-throughput approaches to biocatalyst discovery. We have assembled a list of 20 different glycoenzyme activities including various glycosyltransferases, polysaccharide-modifying enzymes, glycosidases and sugar oxidases that will form the basis of the research. Through iterative rounds of biocatalyst discovery, characterisation and development we aim to bring to market panels of different glycoenzyme classes that are readily available for screening by end users.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 143.31K | Year: 2016

This project will deliver rapidly a formulation engineering route to salt or sugar reduction in sauces, dressings, soups and milk shakes. It will also provide non-chemically modified starches as food emulsifiers. The novelty lies in programming one of the formulation ingredients, starch, for dual purpose: product stabilisation and taste experience using ingredients acceptable to consumers. There are a range of novel strategies to reduce salt and sugar content in dry/solid foods, but these are not practical in liquid foods due to the high solubility of salt and sugar in water. Therefore this project specifically targets the salt or sugar levels of liquid and semi-liquid foods where salt or sugar is primarily added for taste rather than preservation, a particular challenge for the food industry. We hypothesise that the formulation levels of these undesirable nutrients can be reduced without taste compromise by encapsulation in a fashion that, while the delivery vehicles remain stable during shelf life, they break down in the mouth, close to the taste receptors to deliver the tastant right where it will be perceived. Currently salt or sugar is delivered to the taste receptors through the bulk of the food and taste intensity correlates to concentration. Delivery of pockets of sufficiently high concentrations of salt or sugar near the taste receptors will enable lowering their overall concentration in the bulk of the food that is swallowed without contributing to taste. The proposed approach is to use water-in-oil-in-water emulsions (wow/s) to encapsulate the salt or sugar, which will be protected by a starch based shell. This starch will be designed to break down when brought into contact with saliva, thus releasing high concentrations of salt or sugar close to taste receptors in the mouth. wow emulsions are oil-in-water (o/w) emulsions where the oil droplets are filled with water droplets. Although wow/s have been talked about for some time, they can be very difficult to stabilise to give a long shelf life and therefore are not found in commercial foods or drinks. What happens is termed emptying out: the internalised water diffuses through the oil into the external water phase slowly converting the wow into a simple o/w. There have been different approaches to reduce emptying out, but perhaps the only practically relevant method for this project is through particle stabilisation of the external o/w interface. This has recently been demonstrated to be possible with OSA starch (a chemically modified starch) that is well known to be a good emulsifier. Native starches with small granules have also been reported to show emulsifying ability although our own attempts have shown limited stability. It can be predicted that native starches will not be widely functional across the broad spectrum of emulsion based foods and drinks. Chemical modification of food ingredients is not desired by consumers, so we will explore physical modification via extrusion processing and milling to program starches as emulsifier & for break down delivery of salt or sugar near the taste receptors during consumption. As salivary amylase will be the tastant release trigger, individuals or consumer groups amylase levels will be considered in developing this pathway for salt or sugar reduction. We have proof-of-concept sensory data indicative of the potential success of the proposed technology based on formulating with a commercial OSA starch. Emulsion stability was excellent although encapsulation efficiency was not optimised for product storage. The internal water phase was stabilised with polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) as in most researches despite the limitations for use of PGPR in processed foods. In this research alternative approaches to stabilise the internal water phase, e.g., by a fat crystal network (which is known to be successful), extremely hydrophobic starches or other food particles not requiring chemical modification will be applied.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 181.05K | Year: 2016

Please refer to full application attached.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 415.77K | Year: 2015

The bacterium Salmonella accounts for about 125 million incidents of disease worldwide each year, and nearly a million deaths. The morbidity and mortality caused by this pathogen has a significant impact on the economies of both resource rich and resource poor countries. Most cases of non-typhoidal Salmonella are thought to result from fecal contamination of food and food products, either directly in the food chain or by cross contamination in the home or restaurants. A common and therefore critical step for this is the entry of the bacterium into the food chain from livestock and poultry in which this pathogen is commonly found. However, even though virtually all types of Salmonella have the potential to cause disease in man, not all are commonly associated with disease in man. Understanding how these processes work is critical to the detection of high risk types of Salmonella in livestock and the food chain, and efforts to decrease the likelihood of Salmonella entering these environments. We propose to study two common types of Salmonella that are both present in pig herds butter present distinct risk to food safety. We will study these bacteria at a genetic and behavioural level to understand how the different types circulate in pig populations in the UK and how they enter and survive in our food. First a collection of pig and food chain isolates of Salmonella Typhimurium will be whole genome sequenced and the variation in their genome used to define the how they spread into the food chain and into the human population. Then we will study important behavioural variations that may impact the threat posed by the variants in food. As the types of Salmonella to be studied are genetically closely related, the number of genetic differences are small, which makes it possible to identify candidate differences associated with altered behaviours of the variants. Genetic differences in types of Salmonella are potential candidates targets for surveillance to identify types more likely to represent a risk to food safety or for other intervention strategies aimed at decreasing the likelihood that they will enter the food chain.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 623.82K | Year: 2017

There are over one million cases of food poisoning in the UK each year with an estimated economic burden of £1.5 billion. Listeria monocytogenes is one of the five major causes of food poisoning. It is a particular problem with chilled foods such as unpasteurised milk, soft cheeses, salads and many of the ready-to-eat, chilled foods. L. monocytogenes can cause meningitis, still births and abortion, in vulnerable groups including pregnant women, the elderly, and the neonates. In Europe, 2161 confirmed cases of listeriosis were reported in 2014, a rise of 30% on the previous year. In comparison to other food-borne diseases the incidence of listeriosis is relatively low, however the disease is associated with significant public health and economic burdens because of its high mortality rate of up to 30%. This project will provide a knowledge base of factors that influence survival of Listeria in the food processing environment where it is able to colonise many sites, particularly damp, moist conditions such as drains, floors, wash areas and food handling surfaces. Despite robust cleaning and sanitising procedures, Listeria spp. persist in the environment. While we know a great deal about the genetics and persistence of Listeria spp. originating from clinical samples, Listeria spp. present in food factory environments have not been studied to the same degree, and there remains a significant gap in our understanding of: (a) the genetic makeup of Listeria strains that are found in food processing factories and (b) how these Listeria spp. interact with diverse bacterial species of the factory microbial communities. This proposal will address these gaps in our knowledge. We will work closely with the food processing sector and analyse swabs obtained from different types of surfaces within food processing factories. These samples will then be used to identify both the Listeria spp. and associated factory bacteria. The whole genome sequence will be determined to track the pahogen through different parts of the processing factory and this will provide unique insight into routes of contamination within the factory and the persistence of particular Listeria spp. in specific areas of the factory. To survey the complete diversity of bacteria in the factory environment we will use advanced DNA based fingerprinting methods to identify which other types of bacteria are present in different factory sites and if there is a connection between these bacteria and presence/absence of the Listeria strains at a particular location. Whole genome sequence data will also provide insight into the genes associated with biofilm formation, biocide resistance and association as complex communities with other bacteria. Strong evidence suggests that Listeria persists in the environment because of its ability to form biofilms (where bacteria grow as communities on solid surfaces). We will therefore determine the ability of the Listeria isolates to form biofilms, both individually and also in the presence of other bacteria isolated from the factory surfaces to assess how these bacteria impact biofilm formation by Listeria spp. and their persistence in the factory. These biofilm studies will be examined in a model factory that we will set up in the IFR lab to recreate diverse surfaces and simulate factory environmental conditions. To undertake this multidisciplinary programme we have assembled a collaborative team of technical experts from the food industry and academic research scientists. This research will provide improved understanding of the behaviour and survival of Listeria spp. in food processing environments. Our ultimate aim is to provide detailed, extensive knowledge to inform the industrial development of new methods to reduce Listeria spp. levels in the food processing environment. These improved methods will be shared as best practice with the wider chilled food industry, eventually leading to significant health / economic benefits.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 148.32K | Year: 2017

Dietary fat forms an important part of our diet, however, trans and saturated fats are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Certain foods, such as spreads and bakery products need solid fat in order to produce desirable taste and texture. However, the health risks associated with trans and saturated fats mean that different approaches to create solid fats are required. One method is to incorporate interesterified fats into foods. Interesterification is an industrial process used for blends of vegetable oils that changes the structure of the fat without changing the overall fatty acid composition in the total fat. This results in a harder fat than the original structure of the vegetable oils, which can be used in place of butter and lard (both high in saturated fat) and partially hydrogenated fats (high in trans fat). Despite the global use of interesterified fats in a wide range of foods, their health effects have not been investigated. Initial research from our group found that one of the most commonly consumed interesterified fats leads to differences in blood fat levels after consumption compared to the same fat that has not been interesterified. Large rises in blood fats after meals are an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This project will investigate the cardiovascular health effects of typically consumed interesterified fats to address this crucial gap in scientific evidence. The project is organised into 3 objectives. Firstly, we will use an existing UK database of dietary intakes in a large, nationally representative study population, together with information on interesterified fat contents of foods provided by a leading food company, to estimate dietary intakes of interesterified fats in the UK. We will use this information to predict what would happen to blood fats if current dietary intakes of interesterified fats were replaced by fats like butter and lard. This will provide the first ever data set on the potential public health impact of including these fats in the UK food supply. We will then undertake a detailed human study to assess the effects of the most commonly consumed interesterified fat, compared to the non-interesterified equivalent fat, and the vegetable oil that the interesterified fat is normally blended with. We will explore the biological reasons why the amount of fat in the blood may differ after consuming these fats. Cutting edge methods will be employed to assess differences in gut handling, fat absorption and the fate of the fats once they are in the blood stream. Finally, we will run a second human study to determine whether blends of different proportions of these fats, i.e. the proportions that are most commonly consumed in products such as healthier spreads and bakery fats, have any effects on the factors that influence risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to a control oil that does not contain any interesterified fat, and a second control fat that is entirely interesterified fat. Model digestion methods will be used to understand the mechanisms underpinning the results of the human studies. The overall aim is to gain a fuller understanding of what contribution these interesterified fats make to the UK diet, why they might lead to differences in blood fat levels and whether this influences known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Our hypothesis is that the overall effect of consuming these fats, in the quantities available in commercial food products, will reduce cardiovascular disease risk when compared to alternative fats with the same functional properties. The studys findings will provide valuable information to the food industry and will arm nutritionists, dietitians, other health professionals and government policy makers with robust scientific evidence for the potential health impact of consuming interesterified fats which will help, in the longer term, formulate dietary advice for the general public.

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