UK Food Safety Research Network

Lead Research Organisation: Quadram Institute

Abstract

The UK has a strong commitment to food safety, with food manufacturers being entirely focused on making foods that are healthy and safe for their customers. With the assistance of government departments, there are many programmes in place to regulate how food is produced and to monitor for hazards that might contaminate foods. However, we also know from studies in the UK that it is common for people to visit their GP with food-associated illness and that about a quarter of the UK population have diarrhoea each year. The causes of these cases are rarely determined, and of the estimated £9B annual cost to the UK from these illnesses, £6B are from unknown causes. In studies that were able to look much closer at some cases, the cause of illness was often a microbial pathogen that carried over into food from the environment or from livestock or even from people. Therefore, some hazards such as bacteria are both a challenge to detect and are a challenge to control from entering the food chain. These challenges are only becoming more complex as the food chain evolves in response to new ways of producing foods, new food preferences by consumers, and climate changes that impact the ecology of food. In association with UKRI-BBSRC and the Food Standards Agency, Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich is proposing to establish over a 2-year period a new 'UK Food Safety Research Network'. Acting as a hub for scientific innovation and collaborative research to address these complex challenges, the Network will create a community between food industry, government departments, and scientists to create a shared vision and plan for research that can improve the safety of foods now and in the future.

To establish this functional community, the Network will progress through steps of:

Taking a broad view on the leaders who can impact food safety: the Network will identify the landscape of existing food networks and food safety stakeholders from industry, academia, and government sectors, and from therein, activate a critical mass of experts spanning multiple disciplines to form a Network for collaborative innovation and knowledge exchange activities. We will be inclusive of the 'One Health' disciplines that consider the sciences of the environment, animals, and human health.

Identifying areas of opportunity and need for food safety research: the members of the Network will bring their experience and perspectives to identify food safety challenges that can be translated to research and training priorities. We believe that members will be motivated to participate in this problem definition phase of the Network because research priorities will be set against routes to impact by virtue of participation from food system stakeholders at all stages.

Harnessing interdisciplinary talents to drive collaborative projects: the Network will pursue our research priorities with programmes that fund proof-of-concept and other similar projects that act under a 'culture of innovation' to draw upon the insights, data, and technologies from across the Network members' organisations, disciplines, and levels of seniority.

Enhancing the food safety community by implementing and developing skills from Network discoveries: the Network will extend the methods and knowledge developed in our collaborative research by hosting a series of different training events and by sponsoring the exchange of scientists and food industry employees between Network member sites. These programmes will actively support skill development on food safety and interoperability between Network partners.

Bringing forward the Network discoveries to shift the food safety field: the Network will be highly visible and have an active voice through web, audio, and video platforms to support Network engagement with policy makers and other funders. Network research and training outcomes will also be shared more broadly and publicly to further support food safety skill development.

Technical Summary

The food system comprises many social, environmental, and political factors that together affect the foods that are produced and the foods that are sought by consumers. Amongst these overlapping domains of a massive and complex system, there are multiple points where challenges to food safety emerge and endure. As examples, climatic changes can have both immediate and longer-term impacts to food composition when carbon and temperature cycles change and new toxins appear in both aqua- and agriculture. Or, consumer preferences for non-meat protein alternatives that create a large market shift to new classes of foods made through new processes could impart unbeknownst toxin, chemical or microbial hazards. Another example is the use of antibiotics, which might lead to resistant pathogens persisting in food animals, their feedstock, and food production facilities which can each lead to our exposure to foodborne pathogens. All of these challenges - and many others - represent an opportunity of study and for the identification of new interventions or policies that could improve the safety of food. And all of these challenges represent a view on emerging food safety risks that, to be appropriately considered and studied, require participation from a multitude of stakeholders and scientific disciplines.

It is the goal of the Network to establish a multi-stakeholder approach to apply science to the food safety challenges prioritised within this community as areas where collaborative research could make a positive impact to food safety. Within the Network, policy and industry sectors will come together with academic research through problem definition exercises, funded collaborative research projects, and food safety training fora. The Network will collect and act on old and new data regarding food safety risks and then mobilise the developed information and knowledge within their community and target it towards action by food and health policy makers.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description FTMA4 - Food Safety Research Network Flexible Talent Mobility Account 2023
Amount £69,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/X01794X/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2023 
End 03/2023
 
Description We are funding a research project: FSRN-A12 
Organisation Quadram Institute Bioscience
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The FSRN is funding a research project between the Quadram Institute Bioscience and a pet food company to develop bacteriophage cocktails to decrease Salmonella contamination in raw pet food.
Collaborator Contribution Quadram and the pet food company are going to complete the research project which FSRN are funding.
Impact Two companies (one pet food company, one commercial bacteriophage producer) have contacted the academic lead to discuss potential collaborations.
Start Year 2023
 
Description We are funding a research project: FSRN-A13 
Organisation Fera Science Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The FSRN are funding a research project by the University of Lincoln and Fera Science on developing a rapid test for the point-of-care detection of foodborne microbes.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Lincoln and Fera Science are going to complete this research project which FSRN are funding.
Impact No known outputs yet.
Start Year 2023
 
Description We are funding a research project: FSRN-A13 
Organisation University of Lincoln
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The FSRN are funding a research project by the University of Lincoln and Fera Science on developing a rapid test for the point-of-care detection of foodborne microbes.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Lincoln and Fera Science are going to complete this research project which FSRN are funding.
Impact No known outputs yet.
Start Year 2023
 
Description We are funding a research project: FSRN-A18 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The FSRN are funding a research project by the University of Nottingham, the University of Stirlin and a seafood processor, testing bacteriophage as a biocontrol of Listeria monocytogenes in the UK aquaculture.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Nottingham, the University of Stirling and the seafood processor are going to complete this research project which FSRN are funding.
Impact No known outputs yet.
Start Year 2023
 
Description We are funding a research project: FSRN-A18 
Organisation University of Stirling
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The FSRN are funding a research project by the University of Nottingham, the University of Stirlin and a seafood processor, testing bacteriophage as a biocontrol of Listeria monocytogenes in the UK aquaculture.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Nottingham, the University of Stirling and the seafood processor are going to complete this research project which FSRN are funding.
Impact No known outputs yet.
Start Year 2023
 
Description We are funding a research project: FSRN-A19 
Organisation Northumbria University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The FSRN are funding a research project by Northumbria University and the UK Edible Insects Association on profiling microbial communities in Acheta domesticus (cricket) production systems for risk assessment and evaluation, and development of best practice approaches.
Collaborator Contribution Northumbria University and the UK Edible Insects Association are going to complete this project which FSRN are funding.
Impact No known outputs yet.
Start Year 2023
 
Description We are funding a research project: FSRN-A22 
Organisation Northumbria University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The FSRN are funding a research project by the Northumbria University and Prima Cheese on developing fibre optic biosensors to transform environmental monitoring programs and enable real-time monitoring of pathogens in food processing systems.
Collaborator Contribution Northumbria University and Prima Cheese are going to complete this research project which FSRN are funding.
Impact No known outputs yet.
Start Year 2023
 
Description We are funding a research project: FSRN-A24 
Organisation University of Reading
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The FSRN are funding a research project by the University of Reading and AgriCoat Natureseal to investigate the antimicrobial activity of a newly-developed formula of a commercial disinfectant and its potential use in combination with ozone treatment.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Reading and AgriCoat Natureseal are going to complete this research project which FSRN are funding.
Impact No known outputs yet.
Start Year 2023
 
Description We are funding a research project: FSRN-B11 
Organisation Fresh Produce Consortium
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution FSRN are funding a project by the Fresh Produce Consortium to develop and implement microbial safety training and certification for growing fresh produce.
Collaborator Contribution The Fresh Produce Consortium is going to complete this project which FSRN are funding.
Impact No known outputs yet.
Start Year 2023
 
Description We are organising a workshop: 2 
Organisation Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution FSRN are organising a workshop together with the AHDB, PHWC, APHA and the University of Hertfordshire to study pathogen transmission in pig farming and pork production. The aim of the workshop will be to develop a research project and get buy-in from farmers and abattoirs.
Collaborator Contribution The partners are part of planning the workshop and will be involved in delivering the research project.
Impact No outputs yet. The workshop is planned for May 2023.
Start Year 2022
 
Description We are organising a workshop: 2 
Organisation Animal and Plant Health Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution FSRN are organising a workshop together with the AHDB, PHWC, APHA and the University of Hertfordshire to study pathogen transmission in pig farming and pork production. The aim of the workshop will be to develop a research project and get buy-in from farmers and abattoirs.
Collaborator Contribution The partners are part of planning the workshop and will be involved in delivering the research project.
Impact No outputs yet. The workshop is planned for May 2023.
Start Year 2022
 
Description We are organising a workshop: 2 
Organisation University of Hertfordshire
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution FSRN are organising a workshop together with the AHDB, PHWC, APHA and the University of Hertfordshire to study pathogen transmission in pig farming and pork production. The aim of the workshop will be to develop a research project and get buy-in from farmers and abattoirs.
Collaborator Contribution The partners are part of planning the workshop and will be involved in delivering the research project.
Impact No outputs yet. The workshop is planned for May 2023.
Start Year 2022
 
Description We are organising a workshop: 5 
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution FSRN together with the Met Office and Defra are organising a workshop on climate change impacts on food safety. The aim of the workshop is to publish a knowledge synthesis and potentially to develop a research project that will tackle some of the challenges identified in the workshop.
Collaborator Contribution The Met Office and Defra have been involved in planning the workshop and will be active participants.
Impact No outputs yet. The workshop is planned for summer 2023.
Start Year 2022
 
Description We are organising a workshop: 5 
Organisation Meteorological Office UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution FSRN together with the Met Office and Defra are organising a workshop on climate change impacts on food safety. The aim of the workshop is to publish a knowledge synthesis and potentially to develop a research project that will tackle some of the challenges identified in the workshop.
Collaborator Contribution The Met Office and Defra have been involved in planning the workshop and will be active participants.
Impact No outputs yet. The workshop is planned for summer 2023.
Start Year 2022
 
Description We are organising a workshop: 6 
Organisation Knowledge Transfer Network
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution FSRN together with the Innovate UK KTN Phage Innovation Network are planning an expert workshop entitled 'Developing and delivering phage-based technologies in the UK'. The expert workshop will be followed by an open invitation dissemination event.
Collaborator Contribution Innovate UK KTN Phage Innovation Network have played a major part in organising the workshop, taking place on 16th March 2023. They are also involved in organising the dissemination event planned for May 2023.
Impact No outputs yet. The workshop is planned for 16th March 2023 and the dissemination event for 16th May 2023.
Start Year 2022
 
Description Booth at the Food Safety Europe conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A member of the business development team and the Network Manager attended the conference and had a booth. We had a lot of engagement with industry and have had follow up conversations about potential collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description British Retail Consortium - Microbiology Working Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Joined the meeting to introduce the Food Safety Reserach Network and present opportunities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Campden BRI - Microbiology Member Interest Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited presentation to introduce the Food Safety Reserach Network and present opportunities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Collaborative research planning under the Food Safety Research Network - Food Industry - Hethel Innovation / Broadland Food Innovation Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact We met with the ERDF Food Business Advisor and introduced the UK Food Safety Research Network and opportunities for the constituent food producers that work with Hethel Innovation / Broadland Food Innovation Centre
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022,2023
 
Description Hosted Food Safety Lead and Technical Manager from major UK meat/food producer 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Full day session in Norwich to generate awareness of Quadram food safety microbiology research programmes and identify collaborative interests.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description Introduction to the UK Food Safety Research Network to the Pig Health and Welfare Council. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion regarding UK Food Safety Research Network and opportunities for the pig producer community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Invited guest lecture "Listeria¬†is a rugged foodborne pathogen that acts as a Persister and an Evictor" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Gilmour provided an invited lecture to the Institute of Food Science and Technology Eastern branch.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Monthly meetings with FSA-PATH-SAFE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Monthly meetings with representative from FSA-PATH-SAFE to ensure our teams and activities are aligned.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022,2023
 
Description Opening and Keynote presentation - Why should the food industry care about genomics? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dr Gilmour gave the opening and keynote presentation at the Food Genomics Summit to introduce the potential food industry benefits of incorporating genomics and scientific approaches into their business operations through collaboration with science partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://newfood.events/the-food-genomics-summit/
 
Description Panel Discussion - The Death of Plastics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact M. Gilmour took part in a panel discussion on "the death of plastics", discussing the effect that the push for low plastic in packaging will have on food safety.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://newfood.events/the-food-safety-conference-2022/
 
Description Talk and booth at the FPC Future conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Network Manager will give a talk to introduce the Network and future opportunities. The network co-director and a member of the business development team will attend the conference and have a booth.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description UK agri-food system adaptation workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Professional, multidisciplinary workshop (in-person; Bristol) to collaboratively identify research gaps and priorities related to climate change impacts on the food system. Co-hosted by the Met Office and DEFRA; invited participation as a food safety expert.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023