Centre Tests Claims of Food, Natural Health Products

April 14, 2009 - News Release

Human health, food and nutrition have come together at the University of Guelph in a newly relocated and expanded lab for testing foods and products to promote health and prevent ailments like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The Human Nutraceutical Research Unit (HNRU) will hold its official opening April 23 with a seminar session and tours of the lab's new human clinical and sensory testing facilities. The unit's new 3,700-square-foot home is located in the Guelph Food Technology Centre building, adjacent to the Food Science Building.

The HNRU allows researchers and industry to study natural health products and novel foods intended to promote health, enhance performance, and prevent and manage disease, said Prof. Amanda Wright, HNRU director and a faculty member in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences.

U of G researchers are using the unit, which has been on campus for 11 years, for various studies, including fibre added to dairy products, specially designed breads for preventing diabetes, and interactions between nutrition and exercise.

The unit also conducts human clinical trials for companies evaluating health benefits of foods and natural health products. It also helps organizations design clinical trials for these foods and products, just as drug companies routinely conduct trials for pharmaceutical products. Recent trials here have involved studies of probiotic yogurt and the effects of oats on cholesterol.

"There's excitement about functional foods," Wright said. "Consumers are craving these products but we have to make sure they work."

The opening celebration will include tours of the new facilities, including teaching labs, a metabolic kitchen where researchers can prepare samples or meals to exacting specifications, and a sensory evaluation lab for blind testing of sensory aspects — taste, texture and aroma — of new or reformulated foods.

"These are going to be foods with health benefits but they also need to be palatable," Wright said.

Tours will begin at 4 p.m. and will include a student poster session on food and nutrition research in HHNS and Food Sciences.

The event will begin with a seminar series from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Ontario Veterinary College's Lifetime Learning Centre, Room 1714. Speakers are: Prof. Lisa Duizer, a sensory science researcher in the Department of Food Science; Peter Jones, Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, University of Manitoba; Ray Winger, Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, New Zealand; and Harvey Anderson, Program in Food Safety, Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs, University of Toronto.

To RSVP for the seminar, contact hnrursvp@uoguelph.ca or register online.

For media questions, contact University of Guelph Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982, bagunn@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
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Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1