Aflatoxin, Campylobacter and Salmonella projects get funding boost

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Food safety projects get funding from Agri-Tech Catalyst platform
Food safety projects get funding from Agri-Tech Catalyst platform

Related tags: Modified atmosphere, Uk

A number of food safety projects have been awarded a share of £16m funding through government’s Agri-Tech Catalyst platform.

Projects in the fifth round of funding will benefit from between £200,000 and £1.5m.

One work will examine the feasibility of using an acoustic separation platform for purification of aflatoxins from crops.

Aflascope involves Crop-Innovations; Gorta Self Help Africa; Bora Biotech; Agsenze; Secure Harvest and PepsCAgo.

Testing and monitoring are vital but, due to complex sample prep, high cost, inaccessibility and lack of information, aflatoxin testing is not thoroughly implemented, said the project brief.

It will develop a rapid and chemical-free procedure for extracting and concentrating aflatoxins.

“When integrated with down-stream diagnostic advances, the extraction platform could enable a low-cost, sensitive, portable test system for on-site aflatoxin monitoring, increasing ease and frequency of testing, and potentially improve decontamination,”​ said the partners.

George Freeman, Life Sciences Minister, said agri-tech is fast becoming big global business, creating investment and export opportunities for the UK.

Whether extending the availability of UK apples to controlling the infection of cacao plants in Ghana, these innovative projects demonstrate the UK’s leadership in developing technologies and companies that will improve food and farming productivity in this country and around the world.”

Campylobacter project

Under the industrial research section, one project is looking at controlling Campylobacter.

Partners are Moy Park; Devenish (NI); Primer Design; University of Lincoln; University of Liverpool; Slate Hall Veterinary Practice and St David’s Poultry Team.

It will do the largest known molecular study to track and trace Campylobacter through the supply chain using whole genome sequencing to optimise on farm and factory interventions, including animal feeds and factory processes that reduce the contamination of whole chickens.

The teams will develop a qPCR testing kit for Campylobacter that will be used and validated on farm and in factories and segregate live from dead cells.

Salmonella control and MAP developments

APS Biocontrol; University of Leicester; Community Foods and Tesco will work on Salmonella contamination of vine fruits (raisins, sultanas), which are dried outside post-harvest.

Using technology from industry and academia they will create technology based on antimicrobial agents (bacteriophages).

Johnson Matthey and Cranfield University will look at next generation modified atmosphere materials to extend farm storage and reduce waste.

The partners said the manipulation of respiratory gases can either be controlled or passive, but is rarely responsive.

“Current modified atmosphere packaging is inflexible as it does not actively and sufficiently react and respond to the changing physiology of the product and the allied gaseous kinetics​,” they added.

The work will develop packaging formats which can actively manipulate the internal atmospheric composition within the packaging environment and administer the ideal gaseous conditions at the optimum time during post-harvest life.

George Eustice, Farming Minister, said farmers have an essential role in building a strong economy and feeding the nation.

“Although there has been great pressure on farm incomes over the past 12 months, I believe the industry has a good future and technological advances will help.

“Taking innovations from the laboratory to the farm is key to boosting productivity, and tackling pests and diseases.”

The Agri-Tech Catalyst was set up by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Innovate UK, Department for International Development (DfID), Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The next round of the Agri-Tech Catalyst is open and will focus on international development projects and be managed by the Department for International Development.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

Related news