Lab Canada

Food research centre opens its doors

Winnipeg, MB – The University of Manitoba has officially opened the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals (RCFFN), a $31-million facility that will enable researchers to identify and enhance health-promoting compounds in prairie crops and develop them into marketable food supplements and products.

“The Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals is the most advanced centre of its kind in the country,” says Dr Emke Szathmry, University of Manitoba president and vice-chancellor. “The research that is going to be and is already being conducted here will certainly confirm that the University of Manitoba is a national and international leader in the agricultural life sciences.”

Work at the new centre will focus on several steps in the research and development of food supplements extracted from crops grown in the prairie region – from identifying useful compounds in plants, enhancing these compounds, developing ways to process and incorporate them into food products and considering the consumer acceptability of the final products.

Researchers from different disciplines will work in partnership with scientists from the Faculties of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Human Ecology, Medicine and Pharmacy to develop functional foods based on scientific evidence that will test their efficiency and safety for consumer consumption. Work will focus on products derived from crops important to the prairie region, including oats, wheat, buckwheat, canola, flax and hemp.

“Functional foods and nutraceuticals are growing in popularity with consumers, so it is essential that claims regarding their health value be based on evidence. Research is necessary to test these claims, and development of new products that work is also necessary,” says Dr Szathmry. “This new centre is a testament to what can happen when scientific research is married to technology transfer and business development.”