Food sciences

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Food Sciences Research Division addresses the increasing need for:

  • transparent, scientifically objective risk assessment approaches in the food industry
  • quality research to underpin the objectives of public health legislation and market access health criteria
  • innovative technologies for process optimisation and value-adding throughout the supply chain.

The program supports public health and the economic development of agri-food industries.

We provide specialist risk assessment and research capability applicable to all commodities and industry sectors.

Key areas of expertise

  • Risk analysis.
  • Trade and market access
  • Marine biotoxins, food microbiology and molecular biology; novel diagnostics for food safety hazards.
  • New food product development, product integrity and quality: Troubleshooting.
  • Value-adding, sensory evaluation, shelf-life extension.
  • Food chain statistical services and modelling.

Subprograms

Seafood Safety and Market Access

The Seafood Safety and Market Access program sits within the SARDI Food Sciences Research Division. The program themes are Seafood Safety and Market Access, and Seafood Innovation and Value Adding.

The Seafood and Market Access program conducts research for industry and regulators to:

  • Protect the health of seafood consumers and enhance Australia’s position as a trusted supplier of seafood.
  • Develop new products, enhancing product quality and improve cold chain and processing efficiencies to maximise the post-harvest value and commercial competitiveness of Australian seafood industries.

Risk analysis

Identification of food safety hazards across the supply chain, ranking of hazards in terms of risk, and quantitative risk assessment to support improvement in risk management practices across the supply chain and market access.

Technical market access

Research to allow resolution of technical barriers to trade, maintaining international market access.

Technical input into the development of new international regulatory seafood standards to ensure they are risk commensurate and cost effective. Provision of information on existing international regulatory standards for Australian seafood exporters.

Marine biotoxins and harmful algal blooms

Assessment of biotoxin risk in Australian seafood and research into improved methods for risk management.

Seafood microbiology and molecular biology

Analysis of seafood in PC2 rated laboratories for microbiological pathogens and indicator organisms. These can be used for optimisation of seafood processing performance, shelf-life assessment, industry benchmarking, and safety evaluations of new product types.

Chemical residues

Testing residues and contaminants in seafood, including product safety verification and selection of residue test methods to facilitate quality control and export of seafood products.

Post-harvest handling

Optimise processing efficiencies and Investigation of the impacts of post-harvest handling on product quality and resultant shelf-life.

New product development

The development of new products, that are safe and cost effective. These include alternative products from waste materials, by-catch or under-utilised lower grade fish.

Packaging

Application of new and existing packaging technologies to seafood to maximise product quality and shelf-life and access new markets.

Shelf-life assessment

Microbiological, chemical and sensory techniques to evaluate impacts of post-harvest handling, processing and packaging.

Contact

Dr Stephan Pahl
Phone: (08) 8429 2298
Email: stephan.pahl@sa.gov.au

Seafood Safety and Market Access capability statement (PDF 443.5 KB)

Meat Safety and Market Access

The Meat Safety and Market Access Science program sits within the SARDI Food Sciences Research Division.

We assist the meat industry by:

  • Developing effective solutions to current and emerging industry issues and problems of national importance to the Australian meat industry
  • Carrying out applied research and development projects for meat processors and other clients
  • Providing a rapid-response advisory service to industry and government organisations
  • Contributing to key industry advisory committees and industry meetings.

Risk analysis

Identification of food safety hazards across the supply chain, ranking of hazards in terms of risk and quantitative risk assessment to support improvement in risk management practices across the supply chain and market access.

Technical market access

Research and technical input into the development of new international regulatory meat standards and national monitoring programs to ensure they are risk commensurate and cost effective.

Meat microbiology and molecular biology

Analysis of meat in PC2 rated laboratories for microbiological pathogens and indicator organisms. These can be used for optimisation of meat processing performance, shelf-life assessment, industry benchmarking and safety evaluations of new product types.

Post-slaughter handling

Investigation of the impacts of post-slaughter handling on product quality and resultant shelf-life.

Process optimisation

Evaluation of new cooling and processing technologies to enhance product quality and shelf-life, minimise wastage and optimise efficiencies.

Statistical process control

Statistical process control deals with monitoring processes and using statistics to determine when processes are in control. A statistical process control program identifies process problems, whether physical, chemical or microbiological.

Shelf-life assessment

Microbiological, chemical and sensory techniques to evaluate impacts of post-slaughter handling, processing and packaging.

Animal health feedback from processors to producers

Development of a standardised approach to data collection on disease-related carcase and offal condemnations and a nationally agreed, consistent feedback system to producers from meat processors.

Rodent control and use of rodenticides

Investigation of the effect of anticoagulant rodenticides on the excretion, feeding and exploratory behaviour of rats. Risks associated with the use of anticoagulant rodenticides, rodent control practices in intensive livestock industries and alternative options for rodent control.

Contact

Jessica Jolley
Phone: (08) 8429 2362
Email: jessica.jolley@sa.gov.au

Meat Safety and Market Access capability statement (PDF 265.4 KB)

Food Technology

The Food Technology Program (FTP) is located at the Waite Institute, which is the state’s main precinct for food research.

The facilities include:

  • Analytical and sensory laboratories
  • Product development kitchen
  • Small-scale packaging and processing equipment

The primary objectives are to provide technical support and assistance to food businesses and to improve product quality, increasing the competitive advantage of existing food industries.

Main activities

Research and Development – new product development, shelf life, and sensory evaluation.

Processing – process improvement, advice on equipment and packaging suitable for developed prototypes.

Product Quality – ingredients, product composition, shelf-life testing, product analysis, food safety, allergens and nutrition information panels.

Under a state Government funding arrangement, food technology service is provided to South Australian food businesses in close collaboration with Food South Australia to facilitate innovation and solve minor technical issues.

The program also provides fee-for-service work in each of the above areas for larger projects and for non-South Australian food businesses.

New product development

Complete NPD service available starting with ideation through to prototype product development. Advice on ingredient selection, processing, packaging options, product shelf life, chemical and microbiological testing requirements and evaluation of the final product.

Sensory and consumer testing

Consumer research including designing and administering questionnaires, focus groups and consumer acceptance testing are used.

Sensory evaluation methods providing a range of tests from simple triangle testing to more complex sensory profiling of products using trained panels.

Food processing

Optimized for increased productivity and cost reduction. Working with food businesses to evaluate existing processes and provide alternate processing solutions.

Market access / value-adding

Evaluation of the food safety impact of new production systems in relation to existing standards and levels of competitors.

Packaging

Assessment of existing technologies and advice on novel technologies to improve product safety and shelf life.

Shelf-life assessment

Shelf-life studies to determine approximate date marking of packaged products.

Functional foods

Modification of processes and formulations to preserve biological activity of functional ingredients supported by sensory and analytical testing. Applications in minimally processed foods.

Lean manufacturing

Evaluation of existing and novel processes and technologies to reduce food waste, increase productivity and assist in waste transformation from concept to test marketing.

Food safety and quality control

Assistance with food safety plans (HACCP), analytical techniques and quality control procedures to ensure product quality.

Contact

Andrew Maronich
Phone: (08) 8429 2260
Email: andrew.maronich@sa.gov.au

Food Technology capability statement (PDF 247.8 KB)

Food Microbiology

The SARDI Food Sciences laboratories have provided a testing facility in traditional and molecular microbiology for researchers and industry clients since 2002. Testing is performed in a cost-effective manner and in accordance with the Australian and international standards.

The laboratories run a comprehensive internal quality assurance program and regularly participate in external proficiency testing. Testing protocols are developed for a wide range of food commodities and processing environments. These can be modified to address unique product characteristics and developmental needs. Additional services such as shelf-life testing, chemical residue testing, advice on testing protocols, risk management practices and research methodologies are provided.

Range of samples

  • Meat, meat products and processing environment
  • Poultry, eggs, associated products and environmental samples
  • Seafood, seafood products and processing environment
  • Grains, nuts and seeds
  • Fresh produce
  • Animal feeds

Microbiological tests

  • Total Viable Counts
  • Yeast and Mould Counts
  • Coliforms, Esherichia coli and Enterobacteriaceae
  • Salmonella species
  • Campylobacter species
  • Listeria species
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Bacillus cereus
  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Vibrio species
  • Clostridium species

Molecular biological tests and services

  • Real-time PCR for detection and quantification of food-borne micro-organisms
  • Real-time PCR diagnostic assay development
  • Microbial community analysis and characterisation
  • Norovirus and Hepatitis A virus testing in shellfish and horticultural products
  • Toxoplasma testing in meat and meat products
  • Novel bioreceptor development for food safety hazards (chemical and pathogen)
  • Bacteriophage as biocontrol agents of food-borne bacteria
  • Bacteriophage as environmental indicators of faecal pollution
  • Serological testing for food-borne hazards

These tests and services can be carried out in conjunction with:

  • Surveys for prevalence of food-borne micro- organisms (bacterial, protozoan and viral)
  • Process validation
  • HACCP
  • Hygiene assessment
  • Sanitation validation
  • Challenge tests
  • Storage trial and shelf-life determination

Contact

Valeria Torok
Phone: (08) 8429 0912
Email: valeria.torok@sa.gov.au

Food Microbiology capability statement (PDF 277.1 KB)

Food Statistical Services

The SARDI Food Sciences Research Program provides specialist risk assessment and research capability applicable to all commodities and industry sectors. The Food Statistical Services (FSS) form an integral part of the capabilities within the research program by providing expert statistical knowledge and skills for food related industries.

Experimental design

Experiments are often used to identify and quantify variables that are important for product quality and integrity. Experiments that look at only one variable at a time can be highly inefficient and can lead to misleading results. FSS can design experiments to investigate many variables at a time, while still maintaining the required level of accuracy.

Experiments can also be designed to:

  • validate Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points
  • validate the effectiveness of process
  • interventions and process control procedures
  • validate performance criteria

Analysis of results

Skills include analysing and interpreting microbiological data, sensory scores and the results of surveys in order to draw accurate conclusions from the data. FSS has extensive experience dealing with data arising from many types of experiments and can succinctly and visually depict the results for effective communication to clients, customers and company management.

Sampling plans

Sampling plans and frameworks to detect unacceptable levels of contaminants or non-conformities. Examples of sampling plans include the presence or unacceptable levels of micro-organisms or the presence of disease in food (import/export certification).

Surveillance programs and surveys

Surveillance programs are used by Government agencies to investigate compliance with the Food Standards Code or other legislation. In addition, regulatory authorities use surveys to benchmark industry sectors and products with respect to levels of microbiological and chemical contamination.

It is important to understand the variables of interest and incorporate product pathways and potential sources of variability. Statistical design of such surveys can help achieve aims while minimising costs.

Statistical process control

Statistical process control deals with monitoring processes and using statistics to determine when processes are in control. FSS can design a Statistical Process Control program which identifies process problems, whether physical, chemical or microbiological.

Process and predictive modelling

FSS has experience in modelling and simulating processes/flows in manufacturing and food industry companies, as well as mathematically modelling different inputs and the effect on the output when inputs are varied, informing risk management decisions and cost-benefit analysis.

Contact

Jessica Jolley
Phone: (08) 8429 2362
Email: jessica.jolley@sa.gov.au

Food Statistical Services capability statement (PDF 200.6 KB)

Contact

Dr Maria Saarela
Director, Food Sciences Research
GPO Box 397 Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: (08) 8429 3534
Email: maria.saarela@sa.gov.au

Food Sciences capability statement (PDF 386.2 KB)

Page Last Reviewed: 27 Apr 2020
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