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8th Cheese Symposium opens in Cork

Over 170 delegates have arrived in Cork to participate at the 8th Cheese Symposium jointly organised as part of the UCC/Teagasc Strategic Alliance in Food Research in collaboration with INRA, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research. Over 2 days, thirty delegates from 10 countries will present studies on the most recent developments in fundamental and applied research in cheese in the thematic areas of; “Flavour Development”, “Diversification”, “Health and Nutrition, and “Quality”. The 8th Symposium has attracted a number of key sponsors and exhibitors and has provided a unique platform for debate and discussion between academia and industry.

Opening the conference today, Wednesday, 28 September, Professor Paul Ross, Head of the Teagasc Food Programme said: ”Cheese represents a major and growing part of our dairy industry. Indeed 30% of whole milk is utilised for cheese making and €500 million worth of cheese was produced in 2010. In an era where the milk pool is going to expand by up to 50%, it is essential that we continue to innovate and be inventive in the cheeses we make.”

Dr Tim Coolbear, Fonterra Research Centre, Palmerston North, New Zealand outlined potential targets for the future manufacture of a cheese food. Such cheeses would be required to be more natural, contain less additives, E-number free, GM free, healthier, more convenient but also be low cost. The technological and legislative hurdles to achieve these targets are considerable, but may not be insurmountable. Dr Coolbear believes that enzyme technology may be the solution and has highlighted existing enzyme solutions already on the market that have overcome significant problems in cheese products.

Dr Anne Thierry from INRA, France and Dr John Hannon, Teagasc outlined the significant advances in techniques used to identify and quantify key flavour compounds in cheese and how these can be used to advance our understanding of the flavour development process. Teagasc has recently completed the development of a flavour chemistry facility at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark which is not only utilised for academic research but is also available as a resource for industry for all foods and beverages.

Dr. Kieran Kilcawley, from Teagasc who is Chairperson of Cheese Symposium said: ”It is very noteworthy that this 8th Symposium has attracted such a high calibre of research scientists from both academia and industry, and highlights the international reputation of both the Teagasc Food Research Centre and University College Cork in cheese research. It is imperative that this reputation is maintained through effective funding and resource management especially in the current economic climate where food and agriculture have been identified as significant growth areas of the Irish economy.

The conference is organised as part of the Teagasc/UCC Strategic Alliance in Food Research in collaboration with INRA (France).