Enhancing lamb flavour through diet and salmonella control in pork are among projects to be undertaken by Irish research bodies as part of a €6m investment aimed at boosting the sustainability and competitiveness of the agri-food sector in the Republic of Ireland.
Ranging from sustainable food production to processing innovations, the grant awards were announced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) last Friday.
"This research will play a key role in driving innovation within our sector, thus contributing to the growth targets outlined in the Food Harvest 2020 plan and ultimately making a positive contribution to the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs," said Simon Coveney, agriculture minister.
Proposals for the research grants, awarded under a number of research funding programmes operated by DAFM, including the Food Institutional Research Measure and the Research Stimulus Fund, were invited in late 2011 and 55 grants were approved in November 2012.
Seven of last week’s 12 grant awards, ranging from €200,000 to €900,000, involve research focused on meat production.
Among approved projects is the use of high-pressure processing to control pathogens in ready-to-eat traditional cooked meat products with reduced sodium, lower preservatives and no artificial colours or flavours, as well as marine-derived antibacterial agents to combat salmonella in pork products.
Research into packaging and chilling technologies to enhance meat quality and safety will also be undertaken while, at farming level, projects will include genetics of cost production traits, disease control, precision nutrition and the impact of gender, age and diet on lamb flavour.
Food Harvest 2020 is DAFM’s action plan for Irish agri-food and fisheries, and DAFM last week published ‘Milestones for Success 2013’, its report on progress made since the plan was launched in 2010.