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New funding announced to beat food poisoning bug

27 July 2010

Up to £2M is being made available today to tackle the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK - Campylobacter. Three of the UK's main public funders of food safety research have come together to invite research proposals to find out more about the organism and how best to control it. To provide safe and nutritious food for a growing world population it is important to reduce the incidence of food poisoning. Campylobacter species are responsible for more than 300,000 cases of food poisoning a year in England and Wales.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have joined forces to announce the call following the publication last week of a research strategy specifically targeted at understanding and tackling Campylobacter.

The call is intended to attract researchers from a variety of disciplines to look at Campylobacter across the food chain, from the organism itself, to how it spreads in farm animals through to how it ends up on peoples' plates.

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "Understanding Campylobacter is vital as it causes major health problems as well as having huge financial impact, costing the UK economy over £500M a year. This call is an exciting opportunity for researchers across the board to study different aspects of the organism and move us a step closer to being able to intervene at multiple points in the food chain to reduce the chances of food-poisoning and improve animal welfare. Ensuring food security for everyone is not just about putting more food on plates; it is about safe food for all."

Dr Andrew Wadge, Food Standards Agency Chief Scientist, said: "Campylobacter is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the UK. This joint call for research proposals brings together funding to start addressing key priorities identified in the Campylobacter research strategy. The overall aim of the programme is to support high quality research with a clear focus on delivering the evidence needed to allow us to tackle our key food safety objective of reducing Campylobacter contamination. I am particularly pleased that this is a joint research strategy, bringing together funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Defra and the FSA."

The recently launched Campylobacter strategy is published by BBSRC, Defra, FSA, the Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the Scottish Government. BBSRC, Defra, FSA and the Scottish Government are also all partners in the multi-agency Global Food Security programme, in which research underpinning the provision of safe food has been identified as a priority.



BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £470M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Studies (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.

About Global Food Security

Global Food Security is a multi-agency programme bringing together the research interests of the Research Councils, Executive Agencies and Government Departments.

Partner and sponsor organisations are:

  • Research Councils UK – comprising:
    • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
    • Economic and Social Research Council
    • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
    • Medical Research Council
    • Natural Environment Research Council
  • Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department for International Development
  • Food Standards Agency
  • Government Office for Science
  • Scottish Government
  • Technology Strategy Board

For more information about the food security challenge and Global Food Security visit: