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Companies sign-up for research into foods to enhance health

3 April 2007

A dozen leading companies are today joining forces in a £10 million partnership with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to support research aimed at helping the food industry develop products that deliver enhanced health benefits for consumers.

The founder company members of the new Diet and Health Research Industry Club are: Britvic Soft Drinks Ltd, Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association, Cadbury Schweppes, Danisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Leatherhead Food International, Marks & Spencer plc, the National Association of British and Irish Millers, Nestlé, The Sugar Bureau, Unilever and United Biscuits. Between them they are contributing £1 million to the Club.

"This new academic-industry Club signals the companies' commitment to work with academic scientists to translate information about the relationship between diet and health into products that can make a real difference to the nation's health," said Dr Alistair Penman who chairs today's inaugural meeting.

The Club will support research to improve understanding of the complex interactions between components of diet and consequences for health, nutrition and wellbeing and so enable the UK food industry to develop and deliver new foods that are designed with additional benefits for health.

The Club will be managed by BBSRC, and research projects will be awarded as BBSRC grants using peer review processes as for fully public funded research. A Steering Group, comprising six independent academic scientists and six industrial members, will make the awards on the basis of scientific quality and strategic relevance to two research themes:

  • Bioactives in foods - includes, for example, understanding of how beneficial compounds work and how health claims may be verified.
  • Improved understanding of healthier diets - includes, for example, effect of food components on energy intake, and how foods might be designed to have precise nutritional properties.

"I am delighted with this transparent development between public funders of research and an industry in an area of high public interest. It will help ensure that the UK food industry can access the best of UK science to address major challenges, such as obesity, that our society faces," says BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Julia Goodfellow.

The Club is also supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for projects with an engineering and physical science component.

ENDS

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

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