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Coughlan re-iterates commitment to Food Research and calls on industry to be innovative and consumer focused


The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today re-iterated her commitment to building an innovative, competitive and consumer focussed agri-food industry and called on industry to work closely with the research institutes in driving forward their research agendas.

Speaking at Dublin Castle where she launched her Department's publication "Quality Food founded on Science", Minister Coughlan said that research was a priority funding area for her Department in 2006 and will continue under the next National Development Plan. Under the Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM), record levels of awards, €31 million in respect of 57 projects to be undertaken by Teagasc, universities and Institutes of Technology, had been made in recent weeks, bringing to €94 million the total funding approved for public good food research projects under FIRM in the period of the NDP 2000-2006.

"2006 has been a very significant and exciting year for agri-food research. The launch of my Department's Agri Vision 2015 Plan of Action in March, followed in July by the launch of the National 'Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013', have brought investment in Research and Development to the forefront. In addition to the record level of project awards this year, funding has been earmarked for a number of strategic initiatives in food research in the areas of 'Strategic Equipment', 'Graduate Development', and 'Networking and Team Building'," the Minister stated.

On launching the publication 'Quality Food founded on Science', which features a snapshot of projects funded under FIRM which completed in 2005, Minister Coughlan paid tribute to the young researchers who obtained professional qualifications for research work carried out under the programme. On the 13 laboratory based projects featured in the publication, 22 Ph D degrees and ten Master degrees were obtained, while 24 outcomes with commercial potential were identified and nine innovations adopted by industry.

"It is particularly pleasing to note is that the research projects featured in the publication, like those selected for funding in 2006, are novel and innovative in nature and reflect consumer interest in quality foods and healthy lifestyles. The research findings will assist the Irish food industry to meet the opportunities and challenges provided by the modern global marketplace. The outputs of the research will also ensure a supply of well-trained graduates and a base of knowledge to the food sector for the years ahead," the Minister concluded.

The attendance at the Dublin Castle event, which included representatives of research institutes, industry and consumers, were also addressed by Mr Aidan Cotter - Chief Executive of Bord Bia, Dr John O'Brien - CEO Food Safety Authority of Ireland and Dr Eoin Desmond - Research Manager of All-in-All Ingredients, on the benefits of a strong public good research programme from a marketing, food safety and industry viewpoints. The event also included a poster display highlighting the research outputs of the projects featured in the publication, and a prize of €1,000 was awarded to the team involved in putting together the best poster presentation.

The list of projects featured in 'Quality Food Founded on Science' (pdf 1,708Kb)  are set out in Annex I. Copies of the publication are available from the Food Division of the Department of Agriculture and Food (Phone 01-6072142) and on the Department's website.

28 November 2006


FIRM is part of the Productive Sector Operational Programme of the National Development Plan 2000-2006. FIRM finances public good research by qualified research institutions. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis and projects involving collaboration between institutions are encouraged in order to build up centres of excellence. The research results are disseminated through the RELAY project to food companies and institutions throughout Ireland.



Research Theme Area - Prepared Consumer Foods

  • Natural enzyme found to improve bread quality
  • Drink to your health - development of functional foods and beverages
  • Healthy snacks - innovative tasty hand-held cheese snacks
  • Beneficial bacteria in the diet

Research Theme Area - Food Safety

  • Safety of Irish Beef
  • How to lower acrylamide in food
  • Detecting antibiotics in milk
  • Detecting toxins in food
  • Survey of children's food - Europe's most comprehensive database
  • A common cause of food poisoning - progress in identifying strains

Research Theme Area - Protecting the food chain from TSE's (Transmissable spongiform encephalopathies)

  • Testing for BSE in cattle - development of laboratory test to detect BSE
  • Rapid screening for scrapie and BSE in sheep - tests now available to industry
  • Using ultrasound to detect infectious prions - development of rapid test

Date Released: 28 November 2006