The UK Network funds the first set of food safety projects | Daily News Byte

The UK Network funds the first set of food safety projects

 | Daily News Byte

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The Food Security Forum in the United Kingdom has selected an initial batch of projects to receive grants.

The UK Food Safety Research Network (FSRN) will fund six projects with amounts ranging from £30,000 ($36,100) to £62,000 ($74,700).

Each project involves researchers partnering with companies or government agencies in the food sector.

They include rapid diagnostic tests and high-tech biosensors to detect food pathogens in the farm-to-fork chain, and new ways to combat the risks of microbial contamination of fresh, minimally-processed foods, seafood and raw pet food.

The FSRN is organized by the Quadram Institute and was established in June 2022 by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to tackle food poisoning in the UK. The FSA and BBSRC invested £1.6 million ($1.9 million) in the initiative.

Matt Gilmore, Group Leader and Network Director at the Quadrum Institute, said: “We are delighted to be able to support these highly innovative projects and get them off the ground. As well as ensuring that consumers have the safest food choices, these projects also support sustainable economic growth and we look forward to seeing the technology they develop over the next few years.”

Project overviews
UK estimates show that there are 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness with an annual cost of £9 billion ($10.8 billion), including £6 billion ($7.2 billion) from unknown causes. Campylobacter and Salmonella have the greatest economic impact but Listeria has the highest mortality rate.

One project involved the development of a bacteriophage cocktail to reduce Salmonella contamination in raw pet food. Rob Kingsley of the Quadrum Institute has partnered with a raw pet food manufacturer on interventions used during processing. People can become infected when handling pet food.

Sudhakar Bhandare of the University of Nottingham is partnering with Margaret Crumlish of the University of Stirling, with support from Seafood Processors and Food Standards Scotland, to trial the use of bacteriophages in the post-harvest biocontrol of Listeria in salmon and trout products.

Edward Fox of Northumbria University is working with Prima Cheese on a rapid, antibody-based biosensor that has been validated in the laboratory for sensitivity against key pathogens as part of an environmental monitoring programme. The aim is a more proactive approach and real-time monitoring.

The University of Reading and a company specializing in shelf life extension technology are to trial a technique that is less harsh than current disinfection methods that use chlorine. They will evaluate the antimicrobial activity of a newly developed formulation of a commercial disinfectant and its potential use with ozone treatment.

Enrico Ferrari of the University of Lincoln and Rosario Romero of FerraScience hope to provide evidence of rapid tests based on gold nanoparticles to detect foodborne microbes. The technology can be expanded to multiple pathogens and used throughout the food production chain to understand where and when contamination has occurred without specialized labs or experts.

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