UWE leads the way in food technology research

Issue date: 29 March 2010


University of the West of England The University of the West of England is playing the key role in an international partnership involving eight institutions from seven countries in the field of genetic aspects of food quality and food safety. The multidisciplinary research team based in UWE brings together complementary expertise of the Institute of Bio-sensing Technology,Centre for Research in Biomedicine and Centre for Research in Analytical, Materials and Sensor Science.

This work is funded by EU People Marie Curie Action International Research Staff Exchange Scheme and at UWE it will be led by Dr Olena Doran (IBST/CRIB). The project will involve researchers from University of the West of England (UK), Institute for Food and Technology Research (Spain), University of Lleida (Spain), Iowa State University (USA), University of Bologna (Italy), Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (China), Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Pig Breeding (Ukraine) and University of Leuven (Belgium).

Dr Doran explains, “This project is a successful development of the previous EU project on food quality and food safety by UWE which involved 20 organisations from 12 countries.

“We are bringing together international expertise to develop new effective tools and approaches for the improvement of food quality. The partners experience and facilities will be used to create and develop an international genetics and food quality network which would ensure sustainable international collaboration and long-term training schemes for both young scientists and senior staff.”

The UWE research team will be involved in several strands of work and will lead the work package on the development of novel technologies for rapid and inexpensive evaluation of meat quality traits.

Dr Doran explains, “Quality of food has direct impact on human health and therefore it is one of the top items on the agenda of national and international policy makers and funding bodies. For example fatty acid composition and fat content in food products are related to the development of cancer, obesity, coronary heart disease and many other pathological states. One way to improve meat quality is selective breeding towards genotypes with desirable traits. This is linked to identification of genes and understanding metabolic pathways controlling the traits. Furthermore novel technologies are required for rapid and effective assessment of food quality.

“One of the aspects of this project will be improving the quality of pork, which is the most popular meat in Europe; it can be cured and made into the delicacies such as Parma ham in Italy and chorizo in Spain. The impact of our work is far reaching as it is anticipated to influence EU policies related to farm animals/meat production. “

In addition to Dr Doran the team from UWE includes IBST Directors Professor Richard Luxton and Dr Janice Keily; Director of Centre for Research in Biomedicine, Professor Simon Jackson and Professor John Hart.

In related work researchers in IBST and Research Centres at UWE are also working on projects to develop rapid methodologies for detection of fat partitioning using an impedance technology and magnetic particle-based method; on the development of 3D cell culture system for studying the mechanisms regulating food quality traits and on identification of physiological candidate genes/ genetic markers for food quality traits.

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