Global Food Systems

The UCD Institute of Food and Health has a reputation for excellence in research, bringing together the best of UCD in the food and health space.

Our 60 Principal Investigators (faculty) and their teams are drawn from across UCD for their multidisciplinary expertise in food and health research.

We take a holistic approach to future-proofing global food systems, covering five key areas.

The UCD Institute of Food and Health brings together research staff from different disciplines across UCD, all working together to deliver pioneering research in the area of food and health.

Food Safety

Securing food safety throughout the food chain

Our researchers are working to develop new technologies that will ensure the safety of the food chain and the protection of public health.

Focus areas include:

Whole Genome Sequencing, with the objective of creating a National Digital Centre for Whole Genome Sequencing Data and risk assessment, supported by our bioinformatics experts.

Antimicrobial Resistance Genotypes from farm-to-fork as part of an extensive collaboration with stakeholders including the China National Centre for Food Safety & Risk Assessment.

Risk Assessment along the food chain to quantify threats caused to human health by food-borne hazards, identifying, assessing and implementing intervention and control measures.

Advanced Modelling Tools to investigate the impact of climate change on food safety.

Microbiological Risks: We apply and develop novel technologies that rapidly identify, characterise and locate the microbiological risks in the food chain (eg multi-scale and multi-spectral hyperspectral analysis). Our research also focuses on novel technologies that decontaminate without leaving residues and that are not prone to microbial resistance (eg cold plasma and light-based technologies).

Food Sustainability

Enabling the technological transformations to underpin environmentally, socially and economically sustainable food systems

Our researchers are working to develop the theory, tools and practices to enable the technological transformation of Irish and European food systems to an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable system.

Focus areas include:

  • Technology Development through life cycle thinking.
  • Shaping Policy through stakeholder engagement that considers consumers, industry and regulators.
  • Sustainable production, processing and consumption.

We integrate sustainability thinking as early as possible in the knowledge discovery and innovation cycle, while also addressing social/consumer/business acceptance of sustainable food production, processing and consumption.

We draw on expertise in the areas of life cycle assessment, supply chain management, social impact assessment, policy landscaping and evaluation, environmental technology, business, and economics.

Primary Production Systems

Enhancing primary production systems to supply safe, nutritious, sustainable foods

Our researchers are working to meet the challenge of increasing global food supply with greater resource-use efficiency, while preserving diverse and natural ecosystems.

Focus areas include:

Innovative Animal Production Systems to improve animal welfare and address significant challenges faced by the Irish agri-food industry. This includes identifying alternatives to antibiotics in livestock production, developing alternative forage systems (eg multiswards), reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts, and enhancing the health attributes of meat and milk products through precision animal nutrition.

Sustainable Crop Production Systems to promote human health and ensure security of food and plant-derived materials. This includes developing superior small grain crops, using precision agriculture to improve crop production and resilience, and enhancing disease resistance.

Smart Agri Technologies, with the aim of facilitating development of machine learning systems and decision support tools to assess and improve crop production. The research will draw on a wide range of data-capturing technologies (eg machinery telemetry, proximal and remote sensing, input applications, yield mapping, weather monitoring, multi and hyperspectral imagery, pest and disease pressures, and Farm Management Systems software) to optimise returns on input investment while conserving valuable resources.

Innovative Processing & Food Quality

Innovative processing to improve food safety, quality and sensory appeal to consumers

Our researchers work with innovations in sourcing, processing and delivery of foods and food ingredients to deliver a wide range of benefits to the agri-food industry, consumers, and society, including improved taste, texture and health attributes with reduced costs and environmental impact.

Focus areas include:

Innovative Processing Technologies that use gentle regimes to retain key organoleptic properties; that convert food waste into bio-based products (and other zero-waste processing); and that validate improved models to predict the effects of new processing methods on the retention and transformation of nutrients, the bioavailability of micronutrients and macronutrients, and physiological effects.

Versatile and Affordable Sensors to be applied for the quantitative, real-time, on-line or in-line control of critical quality and performance attributes for raw and in-process materials during food processing in the context of Process Analytical Technology.

Design of new food structures to enhance the bioavailability of macro and micronutrients and sensory characteristics. Enhanced functionality of food in terms of taste and nutrition may be achieved by innovations in the assembly of food ingredients into a food matrix through synergistic effects between ingredients and processes.

Nutrition & Health

Advancing nutrition research, to enable healthy living and promote wellbeing throughout the life course

Our researchers work across all aspects of nutrition from molecular to public health.

Focus areas include:

Biomarker Research to establish new biomarkers of long-term dietary exposure and identify new or novel biomarkers of health.

Lifecourse Studies to examine the impact of diet and lifestyle factors on disease risk across the life-course and generations. We also collate, analyse and interrogate data arising from national food consumption surveys across the life course.

Personalised or Precision Nutrition to develop strategies for the delivery of dietary advice at a personal level, as well as development of new food bioactives for improvement of health, such as glycaemic management, lipid metabolism and inflammation.

Healthy Ageing to develop nutrition intervention strategies that promote healthy ageing, while targeting malnutrition in older populations.

About Us

We harness expertise across UCD and with international partners to deliver pioneering research in food and health.

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Our People

We bring together a team of more than 200 highly skilled academic staff and students across multiple disciplines, delivering world-class research.

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Work With Us

Our world-class infrastructure spans soil to society, and our experience with a wide range of funding mechanisms helps us support successful partnerships with industry.

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