A host of major food and beverage manufacturers have chipped in to fund a new, $6.4 million (£4 million) initiative to uncover links between diet and health.
The UK-based Diet & Health Research Industry Club (DRINC) is a public-private partnership between three research councils and 13 food and drink companies, including big names such as Coca-Cola, Danone, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever.
The new projects will tackle issues such as fortification of food and drink with bioactive compounds, including Omega-3 and antioxidants; increasing the dietary fibre content of white bread; and reducing fat levels in food.
DRINC will be managed and led by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Council (BBSRC). The nine projects will be run independently in universities and research institutes and will produce publicly available information designed to be of use to the whole food industry.
Celia Caulcott, BBSRC director of innovation and skills, said: "DRINC is a great chance for us to ensure the maximum opportunity for fundamental bioscience research to lead to real consumer benefits, including improvements to public health. The value of a public-private partnership like DRINC is that we ensure that industry are aware of and have access to the results from basic science so that they can use this knowledge to develop real products and processes."
Among the nine projects undertaken will be one investigating whether the diet can slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Researchers from the University of East Anglia will be investigating the potential for compounds in broccoli and garlic to slow or prevent cartilage destruction.
Another, to take place at the Universities of Oxford?and Manchester, will seek to identify bacteria that may control activation of the immune system in the gut. A further study, at the University of Liverpool will examine whether polyphenols from fruit and vegetables are able to prevent oxidation that leads to inflammation in the elderly.