Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

August 23, 2005 11:44 ET

AAFC: Tipsheet-August 2005

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 23, 2005) -

Blueberries in a bottle?

Research has revealed that blueberries have the ability to slow brain aging processes and protect the body against the degenerative effects of conditions such as stroke and Alzheimer's disease. But, what if all the beneficial antioxidant properties of blueberries could be available in a bottle? Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are participating in a research project in Atlantic Canada that is investigating what bioactive blueberry compounds can be beneficial against cardiovascular disease and diabetes and how these bioactive compounds benefit the body. One aspect of the research is determining how these properties can be maintained in dietary supplement forms. This aspect includes determining what product health claims can be made for blueberry based natural health product. The Atlantic Canada Network on Bioactive Compounds is headquartered at the University of Prince Edward Island as a five year project under the Atlantic Initiative Fund. Their website is www.upei.ca/acnbc.

Beneficial Bacteria leads to Cleaner Chickens

Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are on the verge of reducing the risk of salmonella in chicken. Scientist Dr. Jim Chambers has collaborated with Dr. Shayan Sharif, from Guelph University, to use probiotics to improve the immune system of chickens. Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria which improve the health of their host and they may be used as alternatives to antibiotics to resist pathogens. Since every year in Canada there are 6,000 to 12,000 reported cases of salmonellosis, the infection caused by the salmonella bacteria, this could be a major development which will lead to more salmonella-free chickens on store shelves. "This is the first step in identifying how the immune system has been involved with probiotics," says Dr. Chambers, who works with the Food Research Program in Guelph, Ont. Throughout the study, one probiotic preparation containing three beneficial bacteria, was administered to day old chicks and one day later salmonella was introduced. Improvements to the immune system were discovered weekly. In earlier research, chicks were sprinkled with a blend of 29 probiotic bacteria which led to a 95 per cent reduction of salmonella in the chicks' digestive tracts. There was also a reduction in the presence of salmonella in the non-treated pen-mates of the treated chicks.

A little sunshine goes a long way

An Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada solar powered irrigation system keeps the environment and farmers happy. Short crops, including vegetables and cereals have been grown successfully using a Solar Powered Mini-Pivot irrigation system. The system has two solar panels (0.56 metres squared) which power eight six-volt solar batteries. It provides enough energy to water 1.5 hectares of land. The Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre, in Outlook, Sask., is conducting trials to determine the practicality of using solar power to operate a centre pivot irrigation system. This system is ideal for remote areas that do not have access to a power grid and has the ability to maintain soil moisture in a range suitable for crop production throughout the growing season.

Treating Tomatoes

The tomato is the most important horticultural crop in Ontario, representing 30 per cent of the province's vegetable sales (2003 farm gate value of $64 million). In Canada, bacterial and fungal diseases seriously affect tomato production. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists in London, Ont., are finding new ways to control these diseases. For bacterial diseases, a screening method has been developed which can detect one bacterium in a 20,000 seed sample of raw, treated or pelleted tomato seeds. Destroying the contaminated seed before planting reduces the need for bactericide application later in the season. As for fungal diseases, a new technology is being developed to suppress damping-off diseases caused by fungal pathogens. This technology is based on the treatment of seed and potting mix with formulations of bacterial biocontrols discovered on the roots of healthy field tomatoes. Researchers are also targeting rotting fungi in seedling transplants.

Investing in Food Safety

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is investing in making food produced in Canada safer. In Saskatchewan, the department has committed $151,450 towards the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program, which will train technicians through a certificate program to meet the safety requirements of food manufacturers. The HACCP program consists of five-phases that combine both practical and technical training and provide technicians with the skills and knowledge they need to meet industry, government and consumer priorities in food safety, traceability and product origin. The program, which will be the first Canadian program to deliver training for HACCP technicians at this level, will be delivered by the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc. Future plans will involve retailers training processors on food safety. Dan Prefontaine, president of the Food Centre, says the program will benefit Saskatchewan. "Technically trained individuals will now be available to rural based processing facilities specifically for the purpose of maintaining HACCP based programming. In the long term, this could be the key to market access and business expansion into export markets."


Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Media Relations
    (613) 759-7972 or 1-866-345-7972
    media@agr.gc.ca