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Vancouver researcher honoured with food safety award

Yaxi Hu, a 24-year-old PhD student, was honoured for her quick and accurate method for detecting industrial and naturally occurring food contaminants


yaxi-huA Vancouver researcher has been honoured with an award for her efforts to tackle food fraud and keep contaminants out of the food supply. Yaxi Hu, a 24-year-old PhD student in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia, has developed a quick and accurate method for detecting industrial and naturally occurring food contaminants, including banned food dyes and potentially harmful biotoxins.

Her work stands out because it applies solid state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (a technology typically used in biology and medical research) to food science.

Presented in Ottawa on November 14, the award — called the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation–PhD — was given to Hu by Mitacs, a national non-profit organization that partners companies, government, and academia to promote Canadian research and training.

“Maintaining consumer confidence is essential to our food supply,” says Hu. “The method we are developing is less labour-intensive, and more fast and accurate, making it a viable platform for food inspection agencies, the food industry and researchers as they work to prevent food adulteration and ensure contaminants remain well below what are considered harmful levels.”


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