Food In Canada


New lab to help advance food safety technology

A new pilot plant research facility will help industry find new solutions to prevent foodborne pathogens

A laboratory has opened up in Guelph, Ont. that will help improve Canada’s food safety system.

The newly refurbished laboratory is a pilot plant research facility at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Guelph Food Research Centre (GFRC).

Gabriel Piette (left), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Science director, and on behalf of the agriculture minister, Harold Albrecht, member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga, cutting the ribbon at the pilot plant.

The upgrades to the facility were funded by a $1.15 million investment under the Modernizing Federal Laboratories Initiative of the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) says the laboratory is the only one of its kind in Canada and will help scientists test-drive the latest food processing technologies.

The research undertaken at the facility will help create products with a longer shelf life and improved quality, benefiting farmers, food processors and consumers, adds the AAFC.

A story on adds that the facility will provide an environment in which foodborne pathogens can be introduced into new food-processing technologies so scientists can evaluate how long the pathogen survives and how it can be eliminated.

Unique facility

The pilot plant facility is unique in Canada for being able to work with pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Listeria and Salmonella to validate emerging food safety technologies in the country.

Some of the emerging food safety technologies to be investigated in the new laboratory involve treatment of pathogens with ultra high-pressure, ultra-violet light, microwaves, ultrasounds and ozone.

Within the facility, three special containment units, called BioBubbles, will contain any contaminated materials produced while testing processes and prevent release of pathogens in the environment. As well, a microbiology lab and a cold storage unit are dedicated to the lab’s activities.

Scientists at AAFC, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the University of Guelph and the food industry will have use of the facility. AAFC says the aim is to foster numerous collaborative opportunities among industry, government and academic partners.