A World Class Research Facility to Support Production of Safe, High Quality, and Nutritious Food

The Guelph Food Research Centre (GFRC) is located in Guelph, Ontario, at the heart of Canada’s largest concentration of expertise dedicated to food research and development.  Established in 1997, it is one of a network of 18 Federal research centres across Canada created by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).  The Centre employs about 60 full time staff including 17 Research Scientists with support staff.  Scientific activities at GFRC are managed by Dr.Gabriel Piette, Director Research, Development, and Technology Transfer (RDT), and by Dr. Puni Piyasena, Associate Director RDT.

The mandate of the GFRC is “to contribute to a sustainable and profitable agri-food sector in Canada by carrying out world class research in food safety and quality.”  Research is undertaken in two main areas.  The first of these is food safety which is targeted at reducing the risks at the farm and processing levels from pathogens (e.g. C. Perfringens) and spoilage microorganisms and minimizing the creation of adulterants (e.g. acrylamide). The centre also investigates the special attributes of Canadian food that will enable the agrifood sector to seek new opportunities and enhance its competitiveness through innovation. This includes, for example, the development and enhancement of functional foods, with proven specific health benefits.

The Centre has a unique pilot-scale food processing plant, rated at Risk Level 2. This rating allows the GFRC to conduct research on foods known to contain or inoculated with pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli 0157. The facility, the most up-to-date in Canada, houses equipment for the evaluation of techniques like high pressure and high temperature processing and for documenting the extent of pathogen inactivation with commercial or novel manufacturing processes. The GFRC also has research underway with a specialized Genomics Research Unit for both the study of harmful bacteria and the outcomes of health enhancing applications.

The areas of specific research undertaken by GFRC scientists are wide ranging and too numerous to expand upon here.  Recent successes include support in the substantiation of the physical effects for oat beta-glucan which allowed the food industry to make a health claim for cholesterol reduction and thus increase potential sales for Canadian crops. Another success is in the demonstrated antioxidant capacity of purple vegetables over non-purple.  High antioxidants may reduce chronic disease risk.

The work which goes on at the GFRC helps the agri-food industry in many ways. These include increasing profitability through value added products for new markets, increasing markets through identifying new agricultural bio-products, preserving and identifying new nutritional and therapeutic uses for foods and ingredients, and finally increasing Canada’s competitive position by working with other research bodies to share problems and solutions.

The GFRC has a history of collaborating with Canadian industry and farm organizations, the University of Guelph and other universities and research groups here and abroad. The Centre has an ongoing relationship with the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety (CRIFS) and jointly provides an annual seminar with this Guelph-based group.

Under the first round of Growing Forward funding provided by AAFC, GFRC conducted research to support the agriculture and food industry under the Agricultural Innovations Program and the Canadian Agri-Science Clusters Initiative.  These funding sources were available for projects in the pre-commercialization and commercialization stages of innovation.

The programs have been replaced with the AgriInnovation Program (AIP) announced under Growing Forward 2. Second round of this five year program “Growing Forward 2” is now in place until March 31, 2018. Of the $698 million in total funding, $468 million is available for funding projects from industry. There are two streams: the Industry-lead Research and Development Stream and the Enabling Commercialization and Adoption Stream. The first of these streams requires a collaborative effort and encourages a cluster approach, where the GFRC is well-suited to participate.

The GFRC will continue to be a partner in projects with industry, farm groups and Universities. The Centre is committed to ensuring that Canadian food ranks among the safest and highest quality worldwide.

For the first time the GFRC is participating in the Doors Open Guelph event on Saturday, May 3, 2014.  Public tours of this unique facility will be available from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

For further information contact the GFRC at 93 Stone Rd West, Guelph, ON, N1G 5C9, phone (519) 829-2400, or Ms. Margaret Boyd, Regional Communications Officer at the AAFC Ontario office, 174 Stone Rd. West, Guelph, ON, N1G 4S9, phone (226) 217-8193.