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Industry and universities come together to support science in dairy

Under the partnership name Arla Food for Health (AFH), four key players from both industry and academia are exploring potential health effects of dairy and dairy ingredients. Three new re-search projects have been selected to receive financing for 2022.

The private-public partnership consists of Arla Foods, Arla Foods Ingredients, University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University. The two latter are both internationally recognized for their research within food and health science. The vision of the partnership, which was originally consolidated in 2015, is to Discover Health Effects of Dairy and Dairy Ingredients. To achieve this, new projects are financed every year and thereby supporting the high quality research environment already in place.

“We want to extend current knowledge on health effects of dairy and dairy ingredients to better understand their position in a healthy, sustainable diet. Financing new projects allows us, and the rest of the world, to make informed decisions on who should eat what and when in terms of dairy,” says Peter Wejse, interim Director of AFH.

And asking the universities there are still many things about dairy we have yet to discover, which is why this partnership is of great value to them:

“One mission for our universities is to contribute science based knowledge that support growth and welfare in society. The partnership in Arla Food for Health is a vehicle for both generating and transferring research based knowledge,” says Associate Dean for Private and Public Sector Services Erik Bisgaard Madsen from Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. He continues:

“In this way the partnership provides opportunities for incorporating knowledge on health aspects directly into dairy products. This benefits both consumers and business.”

13,5M DKK donated to research projects

A core task for the partnership is to each year select the research projects that will receive funding. In 2022, three different projects were granted with financial support in the total amount of 13,5M DKK (see fact box for details about the projects and the funding).

The projects apply via an open call and then go through a double screening process. First, the external scientific advisory board peer review all submitted research proposals and nominate the most suitable candidates for further review by the steering committee. The steering committee consists of two members from each of the four partners ensuring that the scientific quality and credibility is always put first.

“The universities’ collaboration with companies strengthens the basis for sustainable growth, welfare and development, and it provide exiting challenges for researchers,” says Vice-Dean Kurt Nielsen from Faculty of Technical Sciences at Aarhus University.

However, he emphasizes that clarity about the terms and conditions for research-based collaboration is very important, to ensure the integrity and impartiality of scientific research.

“For that reason, we have developed a partnership agreement in AFH that sets the stage for transparent decisions on project funding. Among other things this ensures that the researchers are responsible for and have the final say on research methods, conduct of research, and analysis of the results,” says Kurt Nielsen.

Projects that received funding in 2022

Project 1: “Lactate – the link between fermented dairy products and metabolic health” (LAMETA) aims to determine whether lactate improves postprandial glucose and lipid utilization in persons with obesity and insulin resistance. Led by Associate Professor Esben Søndergaard from Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University. The project is funded with 4,953,574 DKK.

Project 2: “Caseins for gut comport in infants” (CASGUT) aims to investigate how intact or hydrolyzed micellar casein isolate affects protein coagulation, gut comfort, and nutrient uptake in healthy newborns. The project is led by Professor Lotte Bach Larsen from Department of Food Science at Aarhus University and has received 5,091,000 DKK

Project 3: The final project aims to investigate the effect of conventional diabetes diet versus carbohydrate-reduced high-protein diet on the metabolic control and cardiovascular risk factors of type 2 diabetes patients. The project is entitled “The Meal Box Study” and is a follow up on a previous project financed by AFH entitled “CutDM – Cut down on carbohydrate in the dietary treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus”. “The Meal Box Study” is led by Professor Thure Krarup from Department of Endocrinology, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg and Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Copenhagen University. The project is funded with 3,500,000 DKK.

What is Arla Food for Health

Arla Food for Health is a joint research partnership between University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Arla Foods and Arla Foods Ingredients. It was founded in 2015 and has since funded 17 independent research projects.

Arla Foods puts 10M DKK into Arla Food for Health every year for the partnership to use to finance research projects. University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University co-finance the partnership by making resources such as staff and laboratories available.

Both universities are located in Denmark and globally recognized within health and dairy science. Arla Foods Ingredients is a market leader within dairy ingredients and a subsidiary to Arla Foods, one of the world’s largest dairy cooperatives owned by 9,400 dairy farmers spread across seven European countries.

For more information please reach out to interim Director of AFH Peter Wejse
pewej@arlafoods.com, +45 72177819