We're applying technology and interdisciplinary research to improve food industry standards along the supply chain
The Quality Food Theme brings together expertise from the natural sciences, engineering, health sciences, social sciences, economics and business disciplines to holistically understand the processes involved in food production and consumption, from the farm-gate to the dinner plate and beyond. The Theme provides a portal for strategic partnerships in multidisciplinary research to address industry priorities and challenges.
The scope of research is broad. We have researchers working to establish new directions in quality differentiation and control. For example, the identification and control of nutritional and sensory traits, alongside the development of analytical techniques and sensor technologies to monitor these through the supply chain. We also have a major research effort into assessing microbial food safety risks and developing data-driven tools for risk management, which has been spurred by food-borne disease outbreaks within Australia and globally. Other researchers seek to understand the impacts of diet on human health, particularly the effects of food structure on the digestive system, microbiome, immune function and chronic disease. There are efforts to understand the industrial ecology of production, and to improve sustainability by reducing environmental footprints, increasing process efficiencies, and developing co-products from waste streams. Meanwhile social, economic and business researchers seek to understand the perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of stakeholders throughout the food system. Activities range from profiling the determinants of individuals’ food preferences and purchase behaviour, to exploring the impacts of advertising on nutrition, the market impact of regulations and labelling, and the adoption of new technologies by organisations.
Less than one in ten Australians eats the recommended amount of vegetables and that could be because – with the exception of vegetables such as carrots and spinach – there is a lack of understanding about specific benefits. Research suggests we could get closer to the standard of five serves a day through labelling.