Oxford academics to help get functional foods to market

A university in England has established a Functional Food Centre designed to help companies get their products off the ground.

The centre, at Oxford Brookes University, will be managed by the Nutrition and Food Research Group, which is led by Professor Jeya Henry. The group is internationally renowned for its work in developing the largest glycaemic index testing centre in Europe. It now plans to build on this success, by offering commercially-funded research designed to meet the growing need for research into functional food ingredients.

Set up in the University's School of Life Sciences, the new centre will work with consumer groups, companies, governments and NGOs. The university said it was particularly interested in helping companies which did not have large budgets to conduct their own research.

"Few companies, with the exception of the very largest, have the in-house capability to undertake the research needed under new UK and international regulations for functional food health claims," it said in a statement. "The new centre will meet an unmet need in this large and expanding market, working closely with each client to ensure that optimal solutions are found to customers' technical and commercial requirements."

The centre will offer a range of services, including:

  • identification and testing of ingredients suitable as functional foods;
  • feasibility studies for large scale production and cost effectiveness;
  • studies to obtain data to support health claims, including conducting clinical trials.

"Our primary goal is to improve the health and well-being of people around the world," said Professor Henry, speaking at the official opening of the new centre. "At a time of growing interest in food and nutrition there is a wave of misinformation and mistrust. It will be a centre that provides evidence-based science and knowledge to consumers and industry."

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