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Healthy and safe food


Food security in the context of this priority covers the sustainable production of sufficient, safe, nutritious and affordable food to supply the world's growing population. The overall BBSRC food security priority aims to encourage research that will enhance UK and/or global food security, by providing knowledge and evidence that will enable food producers and processors, retailers, consumers and governments to respond to and manage the challenges facing the UK food system, and related global issues including those confronting the developing world.

Tackling the food security challenge will require multifaceted and cross-disciplinary approaches. Multidisciplinary approaches are strongly encouraged under this priority, including those that draw on expertise from across the biosciences and, where appropriate (and provided the majority of the work falls within BBSRC's remit), proposals at the interfaces with other Research Councils. These might include collaborations between biologists and physical, environmental, medical or social scientists. Integration of the latest bioscience and modelling techniques is encouraged at all scales from molecules and cells to agricultural systems and landscapes.


The aim of this priority is to improve understanding of the links between diet and health, and the implications arising from such links - in particular:

  • what constitutes nutritious, healthy diet
  • micronutrient requirements
  • the differing nutritional needs of various groups
  • dietary effects on epigenetics
  • understanding the potential of novel nutrient supplies from plants
  • personalised nutrition
  • optimisation of product formulation through new uses of existing ingredients, novel ingredients and novel formulations of ingredients

Also covered in this challenge is the improvement of microbial and chemical food safety and this includes reducing the incidence of key food-borne pathogens throughout the food supply chain; identifying and addressing emerging and re-emerging food safety risks; and the challenges and opportunities arising from the proposed application of emerging technologies.

Tackling the food security challenge will require cross-disciplinary approaches which may span a number of the challenges under the broader food security priority. BBSRC would particularly welcome applications that address the food security priority in a broader context and would recommend applicants to read all five strategic priorities in the food security area before applying.

Applications in this area may also overlap with the remit of the LLHW priority.

Outputs and impacts

The translation of research outputs into practical use and application by consumers, the agriculture and food industries, policy makers and non-governmental organisations will be critically important in meeting the future challenges. Impacts on training and the UK skills base should be considered. Ultimately the key output from this priority will be research underpinning a secure global supply of safe and healthy food.

Some of the societal impacts of food research are as much related to the nutritional quality of the food as to the raw supply of calories. Outputs from research under this priority will help deliver more nutritious food for human consumption.

Research can deliver important impacts in improving food safety, especially against food-borne pathogens, with benefits to producers in reducing the costs of intervention and control measures, the cost to the economy of days lost through food poisoning and ultimately protecting consumer health.

Ethical and other issues

Applicants will need to consider any requirements for animal usage (including power calculations), licences and ethical approval and should refer to the BBSRC grants guide.