Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to human and animal health today. Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens.
A dedicated research facility to investigate a new and cutting-edge technology with huge and exciting potential to reduce harmful chemicals and antibiotics in the food chain has been developed at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Institute for Global Food Safety (IGFS) in partnership with CIEL.
The Centre for Plasma in AgriFood is believed to be the first of its kind in Europe. AgriPlas builds on existing expertise in plasma knowledge at IGFS, and involves a multidisciplinary team of physicists, pharmacists, animal health experts, feed and food safety experts and analytical chemists. Its focus is not only pioneering research into cold plasma – ionised gases or liquids that have antimicrobial properties – but also its potential commercial applications across the agrifood supply chain.
The creation of AgriPlas was funded through CIEL with £350,000 investment from Innovate UK and a co-investment by Queen’s University Belfast.
Researchers at AgriPlas are working closely with the UK and European agrifood industry on a number of projects to explore the use of plasma technology in, for example, veterinary treatments, prolonging shelf-life of agrifood products and farm biosecurity.
Research reveals that cold plasmas are naturally non-toxic and don’t cause chemical residue formation. Because of their potential to reduce, or even bypass, the use of antibiotics, plasmas could be key in the fight against AMR. It also makes them ideally suited to applications in farm animal healthcare and biosecurity, feed safety, and food shelf-life extension.