Norwich scientists given £1.6m to battle food poisoning

Quadrum Institute to lead food poisoning research

Professor Robin May, chief scientific adviser, Food Standards Agency being shown around the Quadram Institute labs by Professor Alison Mather - Credit: Quadram Institute

Scientists in Norwich have been awarded more than £1m to lead a national fight against food poisoning.

It is estimated that in the United Kingdom alone there are 2.4 million cases of food-borne illnesses every year - a problem said to cost up to £9bn annually.

Now, scientists from the Quadram Institute in the Norwich Research Park have been enlisted to lead research into ways of addressing this costly problem.

The team has been awarded £1.6m in funding from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to study food-borne pathogens and microbes - which cause food poisoning - and share their findings in the food industry.

Dr Matt Gilmour, Quadram Institute group leader, said: "The safety of our food is threatened by both enduring and emerging threats from microbes that contaminate our food.

"The threat is exemplified by microbes that spread between the environment, animals and humans - with food-borne exposures being a means for the transmission of pathogens and novel antimicrobial resistance genes from agriculture.

"The challenge is to take an integrated and unified approach to these problems right through from agriculture and the environment to food production and human health.

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"To do that we need to collaborate with food and other associated industries to share research and innovation and deliver training activities."

Prof Ian Charles of the Quadram Institute in Norwich 

Prof Ian Charles of the Quadram Institute in Norwich - Credit: Submitted

Quadram Institute director, Professor Ian Charles, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this £1.6m grant to help bring our cutting-edge scientific knowledge to the food industry and to help tackle major societal issues such as food safety and food waste.”

The project will see the Quadram Institute lead a partnership between different organisations in the food sector, allowing it to better share its findings.

Professor Robin May, chief scientific adviser of the Food Standards Agency, said: "Food-borne disease is a major cause of illness in the UK population and imposes a significant burden on both infected individuals and the economy.

"Importantly, the network will ensure that the FSA is well-placed to tackle the challenges of foodborne illnesses by bringing together experts from government, industry and academia to address current and emerging issues of food safety in the UK."