2011 Forum Research Programme

Food Safety, Leatherhead Food Research"Leatherhead Food Research's 2011 Forum Research programme will see the start of eight exciting projects and the launch of our brand new Food Analysis Forum," says Dr Martin Wickham, Head of Nutrition. Martin has recently taken on the additional role of coordinating our Forum Research programme and project managing new research opportunities.

"Members of Leatherhead have chosen an excellent range of new research projects for 2011-2012. We received more votes than ever before from our membership, who chose from a shortlist of thirteen innovative projects put forward by Leatherhead experts and our food industry committee members. The projects selected cover areas of research of significant relevance to the food industry including: emerging nano-technologies; perception of and the safety of sweeteners; nutrient bioavailability; the stability of natural colours; and noroviruses, to name but a few.

"Two research projects from our new Food Analysis Forum also feature on the programme: the first being a comparison of methods for the detection of peanut allergen; and the second involving the development of a quantitative multi-analyte method for intense sweeteners. The launch of this new Forum, which will focus on chemical analysis, microscopy and DNA-based measurement techniques, broadens Leatherhead’s innovative research portfolio.

"My thanks go out to all the voters and especially to our dedicated Research Committee members from Industry. The results of the 2011 research projects will be available to Members as part of their membership package."

For further information on any of the studies, please contact the relevant project leader listed below. Members can download PDFs of past research projects through our Research Projects Database in the Members Area of our website - www.leatherheadfood.com/research-forums.

Nanotechnology for healthier foods. Emerging micro- and nano-technologies for enhanced/novel ingredient functionality

The aim of this project is to evaluate the potential of selected emerging technologies in creating enhanced/novel properties, which would lead to opportunities for creating healthier or cheaper versions of mainstream products. One of the criteria behind the selection of emerging technologies is the capability to adhere to clean labelling, i.e. no chemical modifications, therefore meeting
consumer demand for clean and natural products. The selection of novel and 'clean' emerging technologies will be established by conducting a survey among the Members of Leatherhead's Food Ingredients Forum. The role of the selected emerging technologies will be assessed by comparing the physico-chemical properties before and after exposure to the emerging technologies, and their
performances in selected product applications assessed in terms of product texture and quality and organoleptic qualities.

Project Leader: Dr Pretima Titoria, E: ptitoria@leatherheadfood.com
Food Ingredients Forum Committee Chair: Dr Julian Cooper, British Sugar

Stevia versus sugar – which tastes best? Study on the difference in the perception of sweeteners

Often people are able to rank-order sucrose very accurately but there is a wide difference in the ranking of a test sweetener, especially at higher sweetness. This is even more pronounced with natural high intensity sweeteners like stevia. The research question would be: do some people consistently perceive a set level of stevia as being sweeter than some set level of sucrose, while others consistently perceive the stevia as being less sweet than the sucrose? Are the differences due to people and not due to any methodological issues such as carry-over, order of presentation, etc?

Project Leader: Cindy Beeren, E: cbeeren@leatherheadfood.com
Sensory & Consumer Forum Committee Chair: Tanya Lomax, Mars Drinks

Natural colours – can we predict stability? Optimisation and validation of predictive models for the stability of natural colours

Leatherhead's 2010 study on natural colour stability developed protocols for conducting accelerated tests for predicting colour stability in drink and confectionery systems. The project compared rates of colour (anthocyanin, lycopene and chlorophyll) deterioration occurring under real-time conditions and elevated temperature and light conditions over a time period of eight weeks.
The results indicated that the accelerated test conditions could be optimised to predict the stability in a shorter time period. This new project will be an extension of the previous work, further studying colours and will use measurement protocols established to optimise and validate colour stability tests for drinks and confectionery.

Project Leader: Persis Subramaniam, E: psubramaniam@leatherheadfood.com
Confectionery Products Forum Committee Chair: Dave Peters, Cadburys

Can we increase nutrient bioavailability through processing? Enhancing the bioavailability of functional nutrients

This study will measure the effects of matrix/structure on nutrient bioavailability: based on scientific literature, and EFSA opinions, several model nutrients will be selected for investigation. The model nutrients will be given to human volunteers in several different matrices to consume in an acute cross-over study, feeding the same amount of each nutrient to volunteers in the different matrices and measuring their plasma response over a period of several hours. This project will provide valuable information for Members with an interest in the inclusion of functional nutrients in food products, and provide important data for the substantiation of claims relating to nutrients by providing information about bioavailability.

Project Leader: Sarah Hull, E: shull@leatherheadfood.com
Nutrition Forum Committee Chair: Dr Julian Stowell, Danisco Health and Nutrition

Does sugar reduction increase food poisoning risks? Effect of reduced sugar levels on food safety

This project is a continuation of the 2008-2010 forum project that has indicated some marked differences between different sugars and polyols with regard to D- and Z-values of some Salmonella strains. In earlier work, it was clearly shown that the strains of salmonellae causing outbreaks of salmonellosis from chocolate were much more heat resistant and persistent than 'normal' strains. This 2011 project will concentrate on determining D- and Z-values for these strains in the presence of sugars and polyols being considered for use in confectionery and similar moderate or low aW foods. Additionally, the D- and Z-values of osmophilic
yeasts and moulds will also be determined as these organisms are often a problem in spoilage of low aW products, and may show similar behaviour to those already seen with salmonellae in the different sugars and polyols already examined.

Project Leader: Dr Evangelia Komitopoulou, E: ekomitopoulou@leatherheadfood.com
Food Safety Forum Committee Chair: Dr Jo Head, Industrial Consultant

Norovirus – tackling the latest threat to the food chain. Effectiveness of disinfectants and sanitisers for noroviruses

Noroviruses are a major cause of gastroenteritis worldwide. The virus is spread through person-to-person contact and also through contaminated food and water. Determining effective control measures for norovirus is difficult since the virus cannot be cultivated in vitro and so virucidal agents cannot be tested specifically for anti-norovirus activity. Through the Defra LINK programme Leatherhead Food Research has developed a molecular-based method for measuring virolysis (capsid destruction) of norovirus. The aim of this project would be to use this new assay to obtain data on the effectiveness of a range of disinfectants and sanitisers against norovirus.

Project Leader: Dr Angus Knight, E: aknight@leatherheadfood.com
Food Safety Forum Committee Chair: Dr Jo Head, Industrial Consultant

New allergen detection systems. Allergens: comparison of methods for the detection and quantification of cooked and raw peanuts

Previous work carried out at Leatherhead for the Food Safety Forum has shown differences in quantitative analysis of raw and cooked peanuts using different ELISA kits. The proposed project will build on this work by investigating PCR and/or LC-MS based methods for the quantification of raw and cooked peanuts, and by comparing the results with commercial ELISA-based assays.

Project Leader: Dr Joanna Topping, E: jtopping@leatherheadfood.com

Stevia – new quantification method. Development of a quantitative multianalyte method for intense sweeteners

With the recent EU approval of neotame, and the possible approval of stevia due to favourable EFSA opinion on its toxicity, there is a need to develop new methods for the analysis of these intense sweeteners. The proposed project will investigate the use of several techniques – UPLC or HPLC coupled with UV, EC or MS detection – for the identification and quantification of sweeteners. The selected method(s) will be validated on a soft drink matrix.

Project Leader: Dr Rachel Burch, E: rburch@leatherheadfood.com

This article appeared in the December 2010 - January 2011 issue of FoodCom.

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