November 2004 

F&HN Brief – November 2004

Website Up-date

We have upgraded the F&HN website to comply with the Disabilities Discrimination Act (DDA), which came into force in October. The site now passes Bobby 'A' Approved Status which equates to Web Accessibility Initiatives (WAI) Priority 1 guidelines.

Along with these changes we have incorporated a new security entry system for all our members. Members should have received their new log-in information last week. This system will come into effect this week. If you have any log-in problems please contact

F&HN Direct

Quality through Shelf-Life & PRIMA Clusters launch ‘F&HN Direct’. As part of the development of the Network we are visiting a member company on a confidential basis in December 2004. We are taking a small team, geared to the needs of the company, and staff from the two Clusters will listen in strict confidence, with the intention that we can offer assistance. If your company would like to try out ‘F&HN Direct’ please get in touch with Lesley Swift e-mail

Upcoming Meetings

Allergy Cluster meets 7th December – be there!

Following a very successful launch meeting with seven companies, the second meeting of the Allergy Cluster will take place at IFR next month.

F&HN members will have an unparalleled opportunity at this meeting to network with industrialists, scientists and regulators from across Europe. We are particularly pleased that representatives from the European Food Safety Authority - and the FSA – will be present.

Topic for the Day - Allergenic Risk Assessment
With IFR speakers, and external contributions from INRA, the Medical University of Vienna, the University of Athens, and Unilever SEAC. These are members of Allergest, an EU-funded project designed to understand the role digestion plays in food allergenicity.

Programme for the day is at

Remember, you can attend even if you are not an Allergy Cluster member, although there will be a fee. Contact Lesley Swift on 01603 255082 or e-mail for more information, or to reserve your place.

Further ahead...

Nutrition Cluster

The next meeting is planned for February 2005. The topic is still to be finalised – so if there is anything you particularly want to hear about, contact Richard Faulks – e-mail

PRIMA Cluster

The next meeting is planned for 9th March 2005, possibly in Nottingham. The topic is still to be finalised – so if there is anything you particularly want to hear about, contact Tim Brocklehurst – e-mail

Allergy Cluster

The 3rd meeting is planned for March 2005. The topic is either ‘Probiotics’ or ‘Detecting allergens in foods’ – e-mail for further information.

Towards Personalised Nutrition – a new F&HN Cluster

IFR, with IP Pragmatics, has just been funded by the East of England Development Agency to establish the NutGen Cluster – a cross-disciplinary network enabling life sciences, food and public health sectors in the region to take advantage of the advances in nutritional genomics.

This provides an opportunity to:

  • Support a forum for discussion and the exchange of information
  • Supply tailored information for external organisations and individuals
  • Facilitate interaction between academic and industrial members, national and regional Government, and other national and international organisations with interests in nutrigenomics
  • Develop a regional dimension to national and international nutrigenomics research, and commercial and public activities in this area
  • Ensure that sufficient financial resources are available to sustain the network beyond the initial funding provided by EEDA and the DTI

The cluster will draw membership primarily from academic and industrial organisations within the region and will be organised via the Food & Health Network. Further information will be available via the F&HN website shortly, and the first meeting is planned for February 2005.

If you’re interested in joining please get in touch with Siân Astley in IFR Communications Office – e-mail: (Siân is the Communications Manager for NuGo – the new Network of Excellence on nutrigenomics, funded by the EU, for which IFR is managing communications).

Recent News

Nutrition Cluster Meeting Summary

Eleven companies signed up for the meeting on 27 October, which combined very lively round-table discussion with presentations by a number of IFR staff and Michelle Smyth from “Which?” the topic for the day was “Food Labelling”.

1st Allergy Cluster Meeting Summary

This meeting combined round-table presentations with energetic discussion on the current state of Allergen Labelling, and the perception by consumers of the ‘may contain’ labels. Discussion then turned to the impact on the food industry of the proposed new EU Legislation (Allergen Labelling) and the logistics of delivering the proposed labelling changes.

A demonstration was also given of the EU-funded Allergens Database, which is currently being constructed, consisting of information on each foodstuff, detailed clinical information and biochemical descriptions of the relevant allergens. The database is currently in the final stages of refereeing and will be published in the New Year on the Food Allergy Information Platform

PRIMA Cluster – Combase Workshop

Eight companies signed up for training to use the new Combase database at the meeting hosted by the Food Standards Agency on 4 November. This workshop has been run 9 times now - as far afield as Malaysia and the USA, and we plan to run it again – probably at IFR. If you want to find out more contact Lesley Swift – e-mail

New technologies from IFR

Rapid Assessment of Shelf-life

Early detection of physical separation in emulsions and suspensions (food or non-food) is a crucial issue in understanding storage stability. Experience in monitoring and data interpretation enables us to identify the mechanisms of separation, leading to improved strategies for product design. We have recently commissioned an automated monitor which detects instability long before it is visible to the eye.
If you would like your product(s) to undergo short-term trials on a consultancy basis, or to take part in longer term studies or LINK consortia, please get in touch.

Contact: Margaret Robins - e-mail

Perfringens Predictor – new software tool freely available

Clostridium perfringens is a major cause of foodborne illness and associated death in the UK. Many outbreaks of illness are due to improper cooling of meats, which allows rapid growth of C. perfringens. We have developed and validated a user-friendly software tool - Perfringens Predictor - to predict growth of C. perfringens during cooling and identify safe (and unsafe) cooling practices. Users of Perfringens Predictor input cooling profiles, and the software then provides a prediction of growth under the specified cooling conditions, and FSA-interpretation advice about the safety of the specified cooling profile. This software tool complements the existing Growth Predictor.

Contact: Mike Peck or József Baranyi at IFR e-mail or József.


White Paper

If you haven’t caught up with the new Government White Paper visit

New measures in the White Paper include:

  • Radical action to increase the number of smoke-free workplaces
  • Curbs on the promotion of unhealthy foods to children
  • Clear, unambiguous labelling of the nutritional content of food
  • NHS Health Trainers to provide advice to individuals on how to improve their lifestyle
  • A wide range of measures to tackle social and geographical inequalities in health

The White Paper is published on the Department of Health website

Food Ethics

If you’re not aware of the Food Ethics Council, you may wish to visit to see what they are doing.

The next 'Brief' will come out in January 2005

Food & Health Network, IFR Enterprises Ltd, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, NR4 7UA, UK
Email: Tel: +44 (0) 1603 255000 Fax: +44 (0) 1603 507723