Food safety driving 2009 research, says LFI

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By staff reporter, 18-Dec-2008

Projects evaluating the spoilage patterns of foods, the use of natural antimicrobials, and the effect of processing treatments on allergen detection methods constitute a significant part of new research at LFI, says the group

The market analyst and food research group, Leatherhead Food International (LFI), said its members chose the ten projects that would be the focus of its Forum Research Programme for 2009.

LFI said the projects will be more substantial and longer in duration than in previous years and will reflect current and emerging issues for the food and drink industry, food safety in particular.

Food spoilage

One project, led by Dr Evangelia Komitopoulou, will study whether partially or fully replacing sucrose with high intensity sweeteners, and/or reducing fat, may change the spoilage patterns for foods.

The team, according to LFI, will look at how different levels of sugar and fat and how the use of selected sugar and fat replacers affect microbial growth and survival in different food matrices.

Natural pathogen inhibitors

At a time when consumers are demanding the removal of chemical preservatives from foods, there is also an increased demand for convenience foods with long shelf lives.

Natural antimicrobials have great potential to function as effective barriers to growth of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in food.

The research group said one of its other 2009 planned studies will analyse natural antimicrobials and the role quorum sensing (cell-to-cell communication between bacteria) plays in food spoilage and preservation.

It said that levels of N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) in foods could explain the shelf life of certain products as they act as natural antimicrobials, and further quorum sensing (QS) by AHLs or furanones can be simulated or negated by certain food characteristics or ingredients.

This project, claims LFI, aims to establish the role of QS in the spoilage of different foods, measuring the levels of AHLs and furanones during storage, and simulating or negating QS by manipulating food characteristics or certain additives.

Allergen detection

The presence or absence of allergens in food or food manufacturing sites is often measured using antibody based allergen detection kits.

The objective of another LFI study, reports the group, is to gain some understanding of the effect of different food processing treatments/cleaning reagents on allergen recognition by IgG (used for allergen monitoring) and allergen recognition by IgE (an in vitro measure of allergenicity).

It claims this research will help to provide data linking changes in the allergenicity of a food with changes in monitoring its presence.



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