Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
March 11, 1999
Laboratory services provides expertise, research opportunities
Hot dogs contaminated with the Listeria organism and traced to a meat processing plant have been blamed for 20 recent deaths in the United States. This outbreak is the most recent in a long list of food-borne disease outbreaks in North America.
The key to reducing the incidence of food-borne disease outbreaks is research in food quality and safety, which is one of the main services performed by the University of Guelph's Laboratory Services division.
"Our research spans a broad range of applied work, from animal and plant agriculture to food safety," said Dr. Joseph Odumeru, Research Co-ordination Unit, Laboratory Services.
Areas under study include the microbiological quality of foods, food processing technologies, drug residues, food chemistry, nutraceuticals and functional foods, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, trace contaminants, animal health and pest management.
Highlights of research at Laboratory Services include:
-- The development of molecular and immunological tests for food-borne diseases by Odumeru.
-- The advancement of molecular methods for agriculture and food improvement, headed by Shu Chen at the Guelph Molecular Supercentre.
-- The development of methods for the measurement of antibiotic residues in milk and meat.
-- Methods for the measurement of carbohydrates and fibre in foods, and the validation of analytical methods for food allergens, additives and nutritional supplements.
-- Studies on the composition of nutraceuticals and functional foods, headed by Chung-Ja Jackson.
-- Research headed by Brian Ripley on pesticide, herbicide and trace contaminants to identify organic compounds in food and food packaging materials and to develop analytical methods for new pesticides.
-- Animal health surveys in support of public health, trade and industry by Grant Maxie and scientists at the Animal Health Laboratory.
-- The development of molecular methods for the diagnosis of veterinary diseases and analytical methods for the diagnosis of plant diseases.
-- An Advanced Analytical Network in 1999, which will co-ordinate research expertise and its advanced equipment.
Laboratory Services, originally a service division of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, (OMAFRA), conducted regulatory testing and diagnostics for the food and agricultural industries. An enhanced partnership between the University and OMAFRA in 1997 moved these services to U of G. Laboratory Services now conducts proprietary, contractual and collaborative research with clients from the food industry, government and universities, with more than 80 per cent of the research designed to enhance service to OMAFRA.
Research collaborations also exist with Health Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment Canada, departments at U of G and universities in Canada and abroad, and industry partners.
For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120 Ext. 3338.