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Irish dairy and academia unite over functional ingredients

By Shane Starling , 27-Nov-2009

Four major Irish dairy ingredient players and four academic institutions form the nexus of a new Irish initiative to develop functional food ingredients – Food for Health Ireland.

Shane Starling discusses the government-backed venture with Jens Bleiel, its chief executive officer; John Holland, operations director – ingredients at Carbery and Dr Paul Ross, the head of the Moorepark Food Research Centre.

“We have a group of scientists which range from food scientists and people in scale-up and then the processing side right through to microbiology and through clinical research,” Dr Ross said.

“Within the centre we have the capability to mine milk for health promoting ingredients right through to clinical trials, to scale-up, to GMP manufacturing.”

Strong track record

Holland said the four dairy groups would provide a commercial focus for the research. “Ireland over the years has had a very strong track record in dairy research – many of the institutions are world-renowned,” said Holland.

“So now we as the industrial partners will bring a commercial focus to that research. We will provide the market insights that will direct the research. We will sit through the research and make sure that it is continually on track and achieving its objectives. At the end we will provide the channel to commercialise the outputs.”

Milk mining

While the group has an initial brief to “mine milk” due to the dairy focus of founding members Carbery, Glanbia, Kerry and Dairygold – it may expand into other areas in the future, Bleiel said.

“In the future we will broaden it to international cooperation because we strongly believe that functional foods is a global business,” he said.

Infant nutrition, metabolic syndrome and immunity are initial key areas of research which has two and five year goals.

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