Video transcript: Food science and health: the Institute of Food Research

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February 2012

Professor David Boxer, Director, Institute of Food Research, IFR
The Institute of Food Research is the only publicly funded research institute in the UK that addresses the fundamental understanding, the fundamental science of food and health.

Video scans the institute buildings and shows the entrance sign.

It asks fundamental questions such as how does the gap work, how does it interact with food and how that relates to the process of ages and to disease processes. At the moment in the United Kingdom most of the developed world and the public health burden is enormous and increasing due to food related illness, diabetes, obesity and so forth.

Video shows a scientist conducting an experiment.

Institute are therefore for the longer term and the research undertaken has got a very clear strategic view to address these problems in society.

Dr Reg Wilson, Deputy Director of Science Operations, IFR
I work on natural products which are aimed at providing the science to underpin the finer day message in other words what we are trying to understand is why eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables gives the protective effects for various diseases they do so a lot of the work is mechanistic and looking at how these compounds are digested and how they break down and how they deliver the benefit.

Video shows scientist in the lab working on an experiment on Beneforte super broccoli, which it shows in close-up

Professor David Boxer, Director, Institute of Food Research, IFR
An example of fundamental research which is benefited from long term investment by the Government's funding for science at IFR is a development of a form of broccoli which has got a very high content of the active ingredient in there which promotes health.

Dr Reg Wilson, Deputy Director of Science Operations, IFR
We are interested in food structure and how food structure changes and breaks down in the gastro intestine tracked because this not only effects the release and availability of nutrients but the food structure can also impact on microbiological populations in the gut which also have health implications.

Professor Simon Carding, Programme Leader, IFR
The gut is the inner tube of life. It is absolute essential to preserve and maintain life. It is important because it processes the food that we take in on a daily basis, it breaks it down and makes it more accessible as an energy source for the body without the gut we would essentially starve to death very quickly so one of the technologies we are developing is bio imaging technology where we are hoping visualise in real time micro interactions with the gut epithelium and the gut immune system.

Video shows two slides showing the gut. First a slide of mucus under a layer of food emulsion. Second slide shows a cross section through a human's abdomen showing gastric secretion in the gut.

We also have here at the institute a model gut or model colon which is a continuous fermentation system which allows us to culture the microbes which are present in the human colon and this provides us with a means by which we can investigate and interrogate their function which is impractical and ethically cannot be carried out in humans such an important technology that allows us to be able to study the function of this vast collection of microbes which reside in the human gastro-intestinal track.

Video shows various slides of different pathogens and then shows hope the database is being used.

Professor David Boxer, Director, Institute of Food Research, IFR
A core part of IRF's research relates to working with food borne pathogens and how they grow and how they grow practically on food not just on food as it grows food as its processed, food as it is transported, food as it is stored in the supermarket shelves this has been analysed and put on a big database so that manufacturers or academics or anyone interested can work out what the best possible combination of processes is to insure the minimum risk of contamination by food borne pathogens.

Dr Reg Wilson, Deputy Director of Science Operations, IFR
We also have an intensive programme on the main biological organisms: salmonella, campylobacter and we a particular niche expertise in Clostridium botulinum and we have a facility here that can handle that organism and then we represent a national resource.

Video shows scientists at work in the labs, then back to Prof Boxer and finishes up with an aerial view of the the whole facility

Professor David Boxer, Director, Institute of Food Research, IFR
The Institute employs about 210 people it has an annual budget of just over £50M a year and of that something like a million pounds a year comes from industrial sources, the BBSRC which is our sponsoring institute provides a core grant of just under £10M and the reminder comes from a wide variety of resources. IFR works in partnership with a range of organisations and institutes we have good relationships with the food industry, we have to be able to work in a multidisciplinary way with clinicians, nutritionists, plant scientists, with agricultural scientists, regeneo specialists to move forward.