Canada opens upgraded food-safety facility

by Bryan Salvage
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GUELPH, Ontario – On Nov. 9, a new pilot plant research facility opened at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Guelph Food Research Centre (GFRC), designed to help Canadian farmers and consumers benefit from food-safety technologies. The upgrades to the facility were funded by the $1.15 million investment under the Modernizing Federal Laboratories Initiative of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan.

"This upgraded laboratory, the only one of its kind in Canada, will help our scientists test-drive the latest food processing technologies and help us improve Canada's food safety system," said Harold Albrecht, a member of Parliament (Kitchener-Conestoga) on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

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

Three special containment units, called BioBubbles, within the facility will contain any contaminated materials produced while testing processes and prevent release of pathogens in the environment. A microbiology lab and a cold-storage unit are dedicated to the lab's activities.

Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the University of Guelph and the food industry will use this facility. It will foster numerous collaborative opportunities among industry, government and academic partners.
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