Food Safety is of paramount concern to the consumer. We work with our clients and partners to help ensure food is safe to eat, and to prevent illness due to food-borne disease.
We carry out a range of research related to improving the safety of fresh and processed foods; including fungal and bacterial spoilage, safer postharvest storage systems and rapid sensing and diagnostics in food.
Our research addresses the demand for safe food with a longer shelf-life, without preservatives and additives, but which retains good nutritional value, taste and appearance.
Our work has a considerable impact in the real-world. Our experimental and modelling approaches allow us to control the growth of economically important microbes (eg. mycotoxin producers, food spoilage agents, food pathogens, bioremediation and bio-control agents and algae for biofuel production) which leads to increased food safety, reduces waste and enhances sustainability.
Our integration of rapid experimental procedures and bio-mathematics has allowed us to develop new models which can predict mycotoxin growth in the presence of multiple hurdles in food (i.e. mild heat, mild acidity, low salt levels, refridgeration). These models have allowed us to create a large database of microbial growth (in excess of 500 million data points) for 20 different spoilage and pathogenic organisms under a multitude of different interacting environmental factors – this is now the basis of Nestle’s predictive microbiological modelling capability. With funding from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) we are now developing new stochastic models of microbial injury to investigate the effect of mild thermal processing on the survival and growth of pathogenic organisms.
We have developed predictive capabilities and software that will allow us to model the growth of food spoilage organisms. Such research can be used to control mycotoxin production and assist with risk analysis and product development.
Integration of molecular, ecological and phenotypic factors used by mycotoxin producing strains has enabled us to develop new models to examine the relative risk of contamination of food commodities, especially under changing climate conditions and different climate change scenarios.
About our research
Our research seeks to understand the effect of environmental factors on growth and contamination with mycotoxins and pathogens that lead to food spoilage.
Through integration of new experimental procedures and bio-mathematics we are developing new models, predictive capabilities and software to model the growth of food spoilage organisms. Such research can be used to control mycotoxin production and assist with risk analysis and product development. We also develop biological control approaches to suppress and inhibit pests and fungal diseases of staple foods.
Our research also focuses on the development of sensors and diagnostics for the rapid detection and analysis of microbiological agents and contaminants in food; for example pesticides,allergens microbial-derived toxins.
We work closely with industry, government departments and charitable groups helping to provide solutions to major global health challenges.
Examples of key business clients and partners include Danone, EFSA, Food Standards Agency (FSA), HGCA, Nestle and Unilever.
We utilise the university’s extensive state-of-the-art facilities that are also accessible to doctoral students and, on a contractual or consultancy basis, external organisations. Facilities include our purpose-built Bioscience Laboratories housed in the Vincent Building which include the following:
- Environmental Analytical Facility
- State of the art HPLC, LC-MS, GC-MS, metabolomic suite for analyses of a wide range of food matrices
- Excellent molecular suite
- Suite of Bioscreens for screening novel compounds as preservatives.
Working with us
We offer a flexible approach to meet the needs of our commercial clients. The following services are available:
• Development of research proposals in close consultation with our industrial partners
• Confidential industrial research under contract
• Consultancy services in postharvest perishable and durable food quality, mycology and microbiology, sensing and diagnostics.
We have an excellent track record in securing government funding for pre-competitive research to meet the future needs of industry (eg. BBSRC, EPSRC and TSB). We also provide a range of opportunities to fund applied research projects through postgraduate studentships.