Bronze Prize for Queen's Student

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), June 9, 2001 | Go to article overview

Bronze Prize for Queen's Student


GROUNDBREAKING research by PhD student Amanda Smith in the Department of Food Science at Queen's University may help dairy food producers in the battle against various strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) that harbour toxin producing genes.

Seward, one of the UK's leading manufacturers of scientific equipment, introduced an award scheme last year to encourage the research and development in a range of disciplines including Food Microbiology.

This international competition was aimed exclusively at university departments and students. Needless to say, the School of Agriculture and Food Science at Queen's was delighted when PhD student Amanda Smith was awarded the bronze medal for her work.

Amanda (28), from Lisburn took the prize for `Innovations in Food Microbiology' based on her research work on the response of toxigenic E. coli to food preservatives.

It is not widely known that most strains of E. coli are harmless. They actually have an essential function in maintaining a healthy human gastrointestinal tract and enhance the absorption of vitamins.

Certain strains of E. coli may, however, produce toxins that cause gastrointestinal infections that lead to cramps, diarrhoea and further complications in more severe cases.

Studies have shown that E. coli can perpetuate and grow in temperature- abused raw milk and survive the production of cheeses made from raw milk. Amanda's project is directed at developing strategies whereby additional levels of safety can be engineered into such food products to further protect the consumer.

Some cheeses may undergo a series of physical treatments including heating, and cheese naturally contains ingredients that inhibit the growth of microorganisms.

Amanda's research focused on the individual and combined effects of these food ingredients and treatments in inhibiting the growth of toxin-producing E. …

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