Food research projects seek new avenues to health

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Leading food firms have teamed up with multi-disciplinary researchers in the UK on a range of new projects designed to uncover links between diet and health.

Backed by a £4m (€4.8m) in funds, the projects aim to improve the health profile of food products available to the UK public by finding new ways either to reduce undesirable ingredients or to fortify products with bioactive ingredients.

According to Nestle’s Dr Mark Fowler, projects in this initiative represent “world-class pre-competitive research that has the potential to underpin innovation in the food industry”.

“It’s particularly good to see some of the best diet and health researchers in the UK alongside scientists and engineers from other disciplines making the most of interdisciplinary collaborations and drawing value from new and combined approaches to research. I'm really looking forward to seeing the results from these projects,"​ said Dr Fowler on behalf of the​Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC) Steering Group, which is heading up the projects.

Innovation in health

The nine new projects being undertaken are:

  • Can bioactive compounds from the diet prevent the onset or slow the progression of osteoarthritis?
  • Mining diversity in cereal (wheat) fibre to improve the nutritional quality of bread
  • Reducing saturated fatty acids in the food chain through alteration of milk fat composition
  • Dietary polyphenols as modulators of redox signalling pathways to reduce chronic inflammation in the elderly
  • Establishing the cardiovascular bioactivity of food-based phytochemicals
  • Ergocalciferol (D2) vs. Cholecalciferol (D3) Food Fortification: Comparative Efficiency in Raising 25OHD Status & Mechanisms of Action (D2-D3 Study)
  • Conditioning the gut with functional foods
  • Unravelling the mechanisms of vascular protection by omega-3 PUFAs to optimise and support their use as bioactives by the food industry
  • Enhancing the consumer perception of reduced fat foods through interfacial design and rheological behaviour

Interdisciplinary collaborations

The new projects are part of a five-year initiative by the Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC), which is managed and co-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Council (BBSRC).

Through its research projects, DRINC aims to improve the understanding of healthier diets, including the effect of food components on energy intake, and how foods might be designed to have precise nutritional properties. Another focus is to understand how beneficial compounds work and how health claims can be verified.

Besides BBSRC, funding is also provided by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and by 13 company members, including food industry research groups, trade groups and manufacturers.

Company members include: Campden BRI, Coca-Cola, Danisco, Danone, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft, Leatherhead Food Research, Marks & Spencer plc, The National Association of British and Irish Millers, Nestlé, PepsiCo UK and Ireland, The Sugar Bureau, and Unilever.

More information can be found here​.

Related topics: Reformulation, Science

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