Studying functional foods

It’s been less than a year since the Grenfell Campus Functional Foods Sensory Laboratory opened its doors, but it’s already making waves nationally and internationally.

Raising the profile of the campus nationally and internationally
Dr. Raymond Thomas, principal investigator of the functional foods research program, and lab manager Dr. Natalia Prieto Vidal, a post-doctoral fellow from the University of Basque Country (UPV/EHU) in Spain, as well as Dr. Thomas’s research team, are taking the “functional foods” industry by storm.


In essence, the lab is used to determine our perceptions of taste, our food choices and the information we use to make decisions about food. The Functional Foods Sensory Laboratory examines natural or processed food products with known health benefits beyond basic nutritional needs. Everyone knows blueberries are healthy, but why? Antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and probiotics: these are all on the menu at the foods lab.

The opening of the functional foods sensory lab was held Feb. 2019.

“It’s no surprise that functional foods are predicted to be one of the fastest growing trends in the next quarter century,” said Dr. Raymond Thomas, principal investigator of the functional foods research program and associate professor, who pointed to factors such as health-conscious consumers, increased research into functional foods’ health benefits and the ability of industry to use research findings to create new products as major drivers of the predicted growth of functional foods in the food industry.

You only have to look as far as the latest cover story for “Molecules” to see the impact the lab is having. The leading international peer-reviewed open access journal of chemistry published a study pointing caribou meat and antlers as being rich in functional lipids (fats) that are potentially useful to treat a number of conditions.

You can read more about this phenomenon in Molecules.