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DIT researchers scoop funding for innovative food projects

Posted: 25 July, 2018

DIT researchers have been awarded seven grants totalling ?1.4 million from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The collaborative projects are working to find real-world solutions in a range of areas including food sustainability, soil quality and health.

REIS - DAFM Funding 2018

Dr Paula Bourke is leading a team of researchers from DIT, UCD and Teagasc to investigate one of the most commonly reported bacteria associated with food borne disease, Campylobacter, which often develops in chicken. The team is working closely with the poultry sector to develop novel sensors for campylobacter detection, new decontamination technologies for poultry processing based on cold plasma and light, and nature-based antimicrobials, improving both safety and shelf-life. 

Professor Yuliya Semenova is developing a new optical fiber probe to assess the authenticity and quality of alcoholic beverages. The probe, which consists of an array of micron-sized optical sensors mimicking human taste buds, will be capable of quickly and accurately recognising alcoholic beverages by their origin, brand, blend and age. The long-term objective is facilitate quality control and to help identify counterfeit products in the beverage industry.

Pre-hypertension has recently been identified as a stage in the development of high blood pressure. Dr Jesus Frias is developing antihypertensive peptide formulations which could be used as the basis for food supplements for pre-hypertensive patients. The supplements may have the potential to reduce the use of pharmaceutical therapy or complement it. Dr Frias has also received funding to collaborate on a project led by Teagasc exploring if the food pathway may be significant in infection by the pathogen, Clostridium difficile.

Professor Nissreen Abu-Ghannam will collaborate on a project future-proofing Irish livestock sustainability by reducing reliance on fertiliser and increasing meat and milk productivity and quality, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Dr John Kearney received funding to collaborate on a national survey of teen’s food consumption, providing up-to-date information on children’s nutrition, lifestyle and health status. Dr Carl Sullivan will help to develop strategies to explore novel techniques for monitoring soil quality. 

The awards were announced in July by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, saying, “The 23 projects being funded by my Department will make a significant contribution to the future sustainability, innovation and competitiveness of the Irish agri-food sector.”

For a summary of all the projects that received awards in this funding call, visit here.