Ending hunger and the availability of nutritious food for all is one of the sustainable development goals laid out by the United Nations. It is estimated that the millions of people around the world are unable to eat a healthy balanced diet regularly.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional 70-161 million people worldwide are likely to have experienced hunger in 2020.
Towards zero waste food processing and enhancing food security
Food security is an especially important area of sustainability in land-scarce countries like Singapore which have limited space to grow food. Through various research programmes and initiatives, NTU is proactive in addressing this issue. Sustainable food production and processing are key features of NTU’s Food Science and Technology (FST) Programme, with emphases on food circular economy and zero waste food processing. For example, NTU scientists led by Prof William Chen, Director of FST, have transformed durian husks into antibacterial bandages, recycled brewery waste to grow yeast and invented a biodegradable packaging made from soybean waste.
A hydrogel patch and plaster made from durian husk
In 2019, the F&N-NTU F&B Innovation Lab, spearheaded by FST and Fraser and Neave (F&N)’s Research & Development (R&D) department, was set up to develop new beverages with additional health benefits. Other research projects will also look into maintaining the freshness of products as well as developing new solutions for environmentally friendly packaging.
More recently, the Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH), a partnership between NTU, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), was launched in 2021 to drive food safety research for ‘Food Safety Science & Innovation’ under the Singapore Food Story (SFS) R&D Programme. It is also tasked with helping build local food safety science capabilities in support of Singapore’s growing food innovation ecosystem.
Converting food waste into useful products
According to NEA, food waste is one of the biggest waste streams in Singapore, accounting for about 11 per cent of the total waste generated in Singapore.
At the Environmental Chemistry and Materials Centre (ECMC), Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), scientists have turned bullfrog skin and fish scales into biomaterial for bone repair.
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