Swinburne and CSIRO cement new partnership

Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, AO has called for universities to act as engines of social change, preparing graduates to be job capable with the capacity to adapt to change.

Dr Finkel (pictured) was speaking at a special event in Swinburne University of Technology’s Factory of the Future to formally launch a new partnership between Swinburne and the CSIRO.

The Swinburne–CSIRO Strategic Research Alliancewas announced in April 2016. It is focused on creating impact in industry, supporting economic growth in Australia and providing new opportunities for students.

Speaking to a gathering of industry leaders, Dr Finkel said the role of universities was not to predict the future, but to train the people who make the future unpredictable.

“Which means that they have to be adaptable. Well trained students adapt to the jobs that are available. They transfer their skills. They capitalise on their core knowledge,” Dr Finkel said.

“We cannot know in detail what the jobs of tomorrow will require. What we offer is something worth having: the capacity to adapt to change – and the appetite to bring it about.

“We compare ourselves to Silicon Valley, but we need to look at the broader innovation landscape – of traditional as well as high-tech industries.

“We are not celebrating where we are innovative, for example the Australian resource sector leads the world in iron ore extraction, and it is not just about profit. They have improved their environmental impact profile and safety profile through innovation.

“Another example is the banking sector. We are part of the cashless economy ahead of many other economies as well as tourism and agriculture.”

Dr Finkel called on universities to increase work integrated learning opportunities for students.

He also spoke of his plans to establish a research infrastructure roadmap and support the Australian Research Council to develop research impact measures.

Dr Finkel’s speech was followed by a panel discussion on manufacturing futures, workforce capacity and research collaboration featuring industry leaders:

  • Jeff Connolly – CEO SIEMENS Australia and NZ
  • Mike Edwards – General Manager, Boeing Research & Technology Australia
  • Heidi Krebs – Co-owner & Director of Business Development, Cablex Pty Ltd
  • Samantha Read – CEO, (Plastics & Chemicals Industries Association) PACIA

Swinburne-CSIRO partnership

“Swinburne and CSIRO have a long standing relationship that is built on a commitment to excellence in science,” Professor Aleksandar Subic, Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development), said.

“Our shared vision and belief in the transformative power of research and innovation through collaboration, has brought us together; two likeminded organisations, bringing to bear our considerable complementary expertise on problems of national significance.

“This includes in particular areas of advanced manufacturing and materials, digital technologies, design and business innovation.”

“This commitment extends to our students as well. For example, our students engaged within the Swinburne Innovation Precinct will access the research internship program and accelerator program at CSIRO.”

From 2017 all Swinburne PhD students will have  embedded within their research programs a foundation in entrepreneurship and innovation skills combined with real-world industry placement experience.

Executive Director of CSIRO’s Future Industries, Dr Anita Hill, said CSIRO and Swinburne share a similar philosophy and collaborative research culture that naturally supports them entering into a Strategic Research Alliance.

“This launch celebrates the connection between CSIRO’s Lab 22 and Swinburne’s Factory of the Future – both of which provide access to industry to help them move into the future of manufacturing and engage with high tech R&D,” Dr Hill said.

Image: AAP

CSIRO to examine environmental impact of poor eating

CSIRO will use data from the country’s largest diet survey, the Healthy Diet Score, to look at the role food consumption contributes to our environmental footprint, as well as providing people with a score indicating the nutritional quality of their eating habits.

Improving the national diet can achieve both health benefits and environmental benefits, such as minimising harmful greenhouse gases via reducing processing, packaging and transport requirements.

CSIRO research has found that reducing overconsumption of kilojoules and eating whole foods at the levels recommended in the National Dietary Guidelines could cut the greenhouse gas contribution of the average diet by 25 per cent.

The survey evaluates diet based on food variety, frequency and quantity of the essential food groups, as well as other attributes to calculate greenhouse gas emissions related to food consumption.

This is the first year that the Healthy Diet Score will use survey data to measure the broader environmental impact of poor eating and the findings will be released later this year.

Professor Manny Noakes, CSIRO Research Director for Nutrition and Health and the co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, said the impact of poor eating habits reaches further than just an individual’s waistline.

“Obesity and poor nutrition habits negatively affects the broader community,” Professor Noakes said.

“This year’s Healthy Diet Score will help us better qualify the environmental footprint from individuals eating habits.

In addition to overeating kilojoules, the CSIRO estimates that junk food is one of the highest contributors to food related greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for up to 27 per cent of the 14.5 kilograms of diet-related greenhouse gas emissions produced by the average Australian each day.

Last year the country’s diet quality was given a rating of 61/100 using the scientifically validated survey which assesses people’s diet quality against the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Australia’s underwhelming performance in last year’s Healthy Diet Score was driven by the country’s addiction to junk food.

The 2015 survey found that junk food intake was three-times higher than the recommended daily limit.

The CSIRO Healthy Diet Score is a free 10-minute online assessment which evaluates diet quality and identifies areas of improvement and gives your diet a score out of 100.

Science and innovation award set to reduce incidence of dark meat


A key scourge of the meat industry – dark meat – could be improved thanks to research by CSIRO scientist, Joanne Hughes, awarded on Tuesday at the ABARES Outlook 2016 conference in Canberra.

Ms Hughes, a muscle biochemist at CSIRO Food and Nutrition, won the red meat processing category of the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, for her work on dark meat.

The award is sponsored by the Australian Meat Processor Corporation and will provide the funding for Ms Hughes' project.

Meat colour is the primary method consumes use to judge the quality of meat. Rather than bright red meat colours, dark meat not only looks a 'less-fresh' darker red or purple, it can also have a shorter shelf-life, variable tenderness and an off-flavour. 

Failure to comply with colour criteria downgrades carcasses dramatically and results in lost value for producers, processors, and retailers. 

Dark meat, or dark cutting meat, is usually caused by undue stress on-farm or in transport and until now most methods for improving meat colour have focused on pre-slaughter interventions.

However, Ms Hughes and the team seek to use cutting-edge high pressure processing technology (HPP) under low temperatures to lighten the colour of high-value primal meat cuts.

HPP is also used to extend shelf-life, and retain nutrtion and flavours in a range of other food products. 

"Sometimes people in the industry tell me that HPP on fresh meat generates a "cooked-like appearance, and meat goes brown in colour," Ms Hughes explains.

"However, this is not the case when using lower temperatures and pressures like we will be, So, using controlled conditions, we want to show that dark meat colours can be lightened with no adverse effects on eating quality,' she said.

By adopting this technology in their plants, meat processors could reduce carcass downgrading, improve the quality and colour of the product before it reaches supermarket shelves, and maximise carcass value for both the producer and processor.

"By improving the value of primals, such as the loin, we can help processors achieve a higher value for each carcass, in turn hopefully providing a solution to the dark meat colour problem."

Ms Hughes and the team also surveyed a number of meat processors, covering 43 per cent of the total cattle slaughtered, and found that dark meat could be costing the industry up to $500 million per year, or $1,000 per animal -much more than previous estimates.

‘Over the next five years, we aim to reduce this loss by 20% and save the beef meat industry alone up to $100 million per year,’ Ms Hughes said.

HPP machines can be expensive, but CSIRO have developed, in collaboration with Greenleaf Enterprises, a cost-benefit model to help processors determine the financial viability of adopting the technology.

Reducing the incidence of dark meat in the Australian industry will also ensure confidence in our product by export markets in Asia and elsewhere.

Tastier and safer foods with Goodman Fielder [VIDEO]


Goodman Fielder collaborated with CSIRO and Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) through their SME Solution Centre to create better tasting and healthier dressings, sauces and mayonnaises to meet changing consumer demands.

Goodman Fielder is a leading food company across Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific. They have an extensive portfolio of brands that consumers know and love, covering every meal of the day. 


Fonterra and CSIRO to drive sustainable dairy innovation

Global dairy giant, Fonterra has joined forces with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to drive sustainable innovation across the dairy sector.

The five-year strategic agreement with see the CSIRO apply its expertise in remote sensing, resource engineering, ecosystem, food and water to help propel Fonterra’s V3 strategy.

Fonterra’s V3 business strategy was developed in 2012 and according to Fonterra CEO, Theo Spierings, the strategy has accurately predicted the growing demand for dairy in emerging markets, and that demand would outstrip supply growth.

Fonterra chief technology officer, Dr Jeremy Hill, said that the partnership with CSIRO enable the development of a range of solutions to address Fonterra's science and technology needs.

“On-farm, CSIRO will turn their attention to herd productivity, effluent management and milk quality, and then work through our supply chain looking at processing and analytical technology, food structure and design, and consumer health benefits. We’re leaving no stone unturned to ensure Fonterra stays at the cutting edge of dairy innovation,” he said.

CSIRO’s executive director, agriculture, food and health, Maurice Moloney said that the partnership serves as a key component of CSIRO’s strategy to deliver research solutions across the global dairy industry.

“Our expertise provides significant opportunities across the entire dairy value-chain and by connecting with the likes of Fonterra we can speed delivery to market, and hence the positive impact, of this know-how,” he said.

“There are a great many possibilities to share expertise, knowledge and know-how between our two organisations that will build on Fonterra's current strengths in dairy science and technology and the broad capabilities that exist within CSIRO,” said Hill.  We’re looking forward to exploiting the full potential of this new partnership.”


CSIRO develops innovative biosensor technology for the dairy industry

Australia's national science agency, the CSIRO has developed a biosensor platform that could provide the dairy industry with the fast and sensitive detection of contaminants.

The platform has successfully detected proteases in milk at concentrations relevant to industry within a matter of minutes – a fraction of the time it takes using the current industry-standard test. In addition, the same platform has the potential to monitor a range of other natural components and contaminants in milk.

According to Dr Stephen Trowell, leader of the CSIRO’s biosensor research team, proteases in milk can affect the flavour of UHT milk and also cause it to curdle. While the bacteria that cause spoilage are eliminated through heat treatment, proteases can survive the treatment, so accurate and fast detection of these has significant implications for processing as well as product quality and shelf life.

“We’ve achieved fast and accurate detection of proteases in milk, which could give the dairy industry greater confidence in the shelf life of processed products. We would like to apply similar technology to fresh milk, which would not only assist in our domestic market but as we have seen in the media recently could help further open up the possibilities for Australian dairy exports,” said Trowell.

In addition to the efficient detection of proteases, Trowell says that his team is also looking at developing other sensors that could aid in the detection of adulterants such as melamine.

“We are developing a range of other sensors, which in the future we hope could be used to detect things like toxins, pesticide residues or adulterants like melamine.  Whilst the Australian industry produces a very high quality product, being able to quickly substantiate product safety and quality could provide our industry with a competitive advantage in overseas markets.  At the moment we can see a clear path to incorporating these sensors into processing facilities, but down the track they could even be used at the farm gate.”

Trowell says that the sensing platform is based on nature and mimics the function of an animal’s senses of taste and smell, and this Trowell explains, it is this biological basis that makes the sensors a significant achievement for industry.

“Our biosensors are faster and more sensitive than other, chemical alternatives, and don’t rely on a sensing surface, instead, the molecular sensors are mixed with the sample and they flow continuously through a channel. This means that each sensor is used only once and then replaced by others in real time, allowing accurate detection within minutes or even seconds,” Trowell said.

“Already, our technology can measure up to four different chemicals simultaneously from a tiny sample, and with our proof-of-concept studies in milk and other beverages, we are able to talk seriously about the future role of these sensors in beverage production.”

The CSIRO will be presenting the biosensor technology at the international Biosensors 2014 conference in Melbourne this week.


Virtual mouth to help CSIRO develop healthier foods

CSIRO has developed the world’s first 3D dynamic virtual mouth, with researchers hoping the technology will help them understand how to reduce fat, salt and sugar in food products.

Demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today (17 April), the virtual mouth was tested with a caramel filled Easter egg.

“In polite company, we can’t see inside someone’s mouth while they’re eating and, until now, it has not been possible to view how the chewing process alters food,” said CSIRO biomechanical engineer and computer modeller, Dr Simon Harrison.

The mouth was developed using a technique called smooth particle hydrodynamics and real data about the physics of chewing. The technology predicts how a particular food breaks down and how flavour is released in the mouth, while also showing the distribution and interaction of components such as salt, sugar and fat.

“Through this technology, we can view and analyse how food at the microscopic level works in the mouth, and how it influences our taste perception,” Harrison said.

According to the CSIRO this data is helping to develop foods lower in salt, sugar and fat without changing the taste, which could represent significant benefits for the food industry.

“This technology will give food and ingredient manufacturers the ability not only to model the breakdown of a complex food product, but also the individual components,” said CSIRO food materials scientist, Dr Leif Lundin.

“It can also model the costs of making changes to a product, and then calculate the cost benefit. This will save time and money, compared to using the traditional ‘cook and look’ approach.

“Our research should also help create new taste sensations that could find their way into new products on our supermarket shelves,” Lundin said.


Industry leaders prepare for GM debate

The Gold Coast will this weekend be hosting the 2013 Ausveg National Convention, the centrepiece of which will be a debate on the use of genetic modification in food production.

Arguing in favour of GM will be Paula Fitzgerald, manager of biotechnology at Dairy Australia and Professor T.J. Higgins, executive director at Agrifood Awareness and an Honorary Research Fellow at CSIRO’s Plant Industry department.

On the other side of the debate will be Scott Kinnear, director and co-founder at the Safe Food Foundation and Institute, and Maarten Stapper, director at BioLogic AgFood.

The debate will be held at Jupiters Gold Coast on Saturday 1 June at 11.50am, reports Queensland Country Life.

For more information or to register online, visit www.ausveg.com.au/convention.


New boss for CSIRO Land and Water

Internationally renowned scientist Paul Bertsch has been appointed as the new chief of CSIRO Land and Water.

The CSIRO said Professor Bertsch had been chosen from a field of national and international candidates, and he had a track record at the “highest level” in scientific research.

In a statement Bertsch said he was looking forward to heading up the CSIRO division, which was helping solve some of Australia’s biggest problems.

“Soil and water resources are at the nexus of every major global challenge from climate change and food and water security, to biodiversity and the function of natural, managed and built ecosystems,” he said.

“I am looking forward to shaping the scientific response that will help solve these challenges and contribute to a more sustainable future for Australia and the global community.”

Scientists at CSIRO Land and Water are currently working on finding solutions to the increasing scarcity of land and water resources in Australia.

They’re also working on efforts to help increase global food production by 75 per cent using the current area of arable land.

The issues of land degradation, climate change, and population growth underpin their work, which is used by Australian government and business to shape future policies.

Bertsch is currently director of the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, and will start in his new role at the CSIRO at the end of February next year.