The Richardson Centre for Food Technology and Research held an open house last month at the University of Manitoba.
"At the centre here, what we do is basically support the agri-food industry in Manitoba," said Director Dr. Rotimi Aluko. "One of the main things we do is grain milling. We have a Health Canada certified pilot plant where we can mill different types of grains into different grades of flour and then this flour can then be sold directly to the public. We can produce for example, high protein flours. Because we know these days, plant proteins are very important in the economy of the world. We are participating vigorously in that aspect by enabling Manitoba farmers to be able to mill their grains into high protein flours...We can also conduct human intervention trials to look at the potential nutritional benefits and health benefits of various types of crops and animal products."
Dr. Aluko commented further on some of the research going on at the centre.
"We have a Canada Research Chair that is specialized in protein extraction, protein processing and is supposed to help us to be able to support the food industry in value addition to their products to convert low protein seeds into high protein products. We also have scientists who are specialized in human nutrition, who can help us design various types of trails to evaluate the nutritional benefits of various types of crops, various types of food products but also very important is we have a scientist here who specialized in protein extrusion. Protein extrusion is the step involved in converting a plant protein into your regular meat alternative. Before you can go from a flour into a meat alternative like your 100 per cent plant based burger, you have to extrude it. We have a specialist here who actually has the skills to help us produce custom made extruded products than can be used for various types of food preformulation, in terms of formulating plant protein based foods."
When the centre first opened back in 2006, it was known as the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, but has since been renamed
"That was because at that time when the centre opened, that was a major emphasis in the research that we do here, but now we have diversified from just research on functional foods to various aspects of food processing," said Dr. Aluko. "Especially in terms of plant protein processing. We don't just do only functional foods anymore we do also functional foods but in addition to that we also do food processing, we do food formulation, we do various types of food product development, we do food analysis and so we are a food technology centre and not just a functional food centre."