Ireland encourages innovation-led food industry

Related tags Food

Input into new technology moves up a gear in Ireland with the
country's food development agency announcing a link up with Dublin

Teagasc, the agriculture and food development authority, reports on a new alliance with the University of Dublin (UCD) to improve the flow of new technology to the agriculture and food industries and to maximise the return on investment in the agri-food area.

"Collaboration between the two organisations will lead to an innovation-led industry rather than a follower-type industry,"​ said president of UCD, Dr Hugh Brady.

Teagasc has invested over €20m in recent years in new crops, animal and food biotechnology centres. These resources combined with expertise at UCD, can make a real difference in under-pinning an internationally competitive and innovative farm production and food processing industry, added Teagasc chairman, Dr Tom O'Dwyer.

Under the new alliance, Teagasc and the UCD Faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine are working work hand in hand in the development and implementation of a range of joint programmes in research and teaching.

The alliance will see further collaboration between Teagasc and UCD in post-graduate training.

Teagasc reported late last year that a probiotic cheese and products with high CLA levels are among the foods being developed at a new €16 million functional food research centre, recently opened in Ireland.

The centre, which draws together researchers from Teagasc, the country's agriculture and food development authority, and the University College Cork (UCC) in a new Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, was the recipient of the largest grant ever awarded to a research project by the country's Science Foundation, set up by the Government to promote biotechnology.

Speaking at a food industry open day run by Teagasc in November 2003, Dr Liam Donnelly, director of Food Research at the agency's research unit Moorepark, said that the new cheese with live cultures being developed at the centre is currently undergoing industrial trials, in conjunction with the Irish Dairy Board.

The special form of biocheese aims to suppress harmful bacteria in the mouth, thereby aiding dental health.

"The biocheese is made using a unique lactic culture that produces the antimicrobial, lacticin, which has the ability to inhibit oral health. Lacticin was the subject of a world-first discovery by a team of Teagasc/UCC scientists a number of years ago. The concept of a biofood for dental health based on lacticin can be extended to functional beverages as well as dairy products,"​ he said.

According to Donnelly, functional foods could generate as much as €200 million for Irish companies over the next five years.

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