Gluten-free ingredient research receives funding

A project to improve the ingredients used in gluten-free bread has secured a funding boost.

The Heriot-Watt University project, which is developing three kinds of plant proteins, is one of three schemes to have shared a £750,000 funding pot set up by charity Coeliac UK and innovation agency Innovate UK.

Researchers at the university will be working with protein technology company Nandi Proteins, manufacturer Genius Foods, ingredients supplier AB Mauri and plant science and technology company Agrii.

They will be developing new proteins derived from crops that are underused in the UK – rapeseed cake, faba beans and naked oats. It is hoped these new ingredients could replace expensive egg and dairy-based ingredients currently used, improve the nutrient profile, taste and texture of gluten-free bread and reduce the need for E-number additives.

Coeliac UK said development of the ingredients could also open up new markets for UK-grown crops.

One of the other schemes to receive funding is looking at a less invasive way of diagnosing coeliac disease, and the third is developing software to help in the ongoing management of the disease.

“The research on innovative gluten-free ingredients will keep the UK ahead in the food industry’s expansion into gluten free,” said Coeliac UK chief executive Sarah Sleet.

“The research to create a different diagnostic test could help unlock a worldwide problem for millions of people without a proper diagnosis of coeliac disease, while our third funded project could offer real savings to the NHS in the management of the lifelong autoimmune condition that is coeliac disease.”

Innovate UK said innovation in the food and health sectors was a crucial component of the government’s industrial strategy.

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