Pilot Plant Program

AAFC’s Guelph Research and Development Centre is home to a unique, pilot-scale, food research facility. In the pilot plant, our scientists test new and existing food processing technologies, helping Canadian food processing companies meet very high food safety standards. They work in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, university scientists and partners from the food processing sector. And they are improving food safety for all Canadians.

Take a look at this short video to find out more.

Video transcript

[Sci-fi music starts to play.]

Text on screen: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada

Text on screen: Pilot Plant Program

[Small animated symbols appear next to the text on screen, including a beaker, a microscope, a biological hazard symbol, etc.]

[An aerial view of the Guelph Research and Development Centre. Text on screen appears in an animated font, hovering over the research centre.]

Text on screen: Guelph Research and Development Centre

Sampathkumar Balamurugan speaks: The Guelph Research and Development Centre's Pilot Plant is a level two certified pilot plant…

Text on screen: S. Balamurugan, Ph.D. – Research Scientist – Guelph Research and Development Centre

[Balamurugan talks to the camera, while he stands in the hallway of the research centre.]

…whose purpose is to support the food processing industry vet their food safety requirements and develop and validate food processing technologies to mitigate food safety issues.

[An inside view of a laboratory room filled with lab equipment and three research scientists working in the background. A close-up view of a research scientist cutting up a large piece of raw meat. He places the pieces of raw meat in a container filled with clear liquid. Balamurugan talks with the director as they walk through the research centre.]

[Jeffrey Farber talks to the camera with a lab room filled with lab equipment behind him.]

Text on screen: Jeffrey Farber, Ph.D. – Director – Canadian Research Institute in Food Safety

Jeffrey Farber: This is the only pilot plant of its kind funded by public dollars that is housed really where it's needed most.

[A close-up view of corn moving along a conveyer belt as workers hover and work around the corn. Cut to a close-up view of multiple blocks of cheese moving along a conveyer belt. A close-up view of a worker handling and cutting hanging linked meat sausages.]

Southern Ontario has many food processors so really this facility is ideally located.

[An aerial view of the research centre surrounded by the city of Guelph.]

[A researcher handles lab equipment and works while he sits at a work station. A close-up view of the researcher handling test tubes filled with fluids.]

Daphne Nuys-Hall speaks: Research has always been a mystery for our members, so this kind of takes the mystery out of it, they work collaboratively with the researchers to understand what the requirements are.

[Daphne Nuys-Hall talks to the camera.]

Text on screen: Daphne Nuys-Hall – Technical Director – Ontario Independent Meat Processors

[An overhead view of multiple workers working at conveyer belts with large pieces of raw meat. Cut to a close-up view of the workers cutting the pieces of raw meat.]

Balamurugan: They can deal with commercial size food products, in commercial packaging and handle large volumes of pathogens that have been involved in outbreaks.

[A close-up view of a worker placing meat sausages in packages that are grouped together on a conveyer belt. A close-up view of a researcher placing labelled cards in a row on a counter. A researcher handles test tubes filled with fluid and uses a dropper to drop clear fluid the labelled cards. Then they place glass plates over top of the labels. A close-up view of a container of frozen test tubes.]

[Jeffrey Farber talks to the camera.]

Jeffrey Farber: Here you can actually make the food with the pathogen already in it…

[Printed labels stuck against a glass door that read ‘Pathogens in use: Salmonella Typhimurium’ and ‘Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC)’. A blurred out view of a researcher works in the background. Cut to a close-up view of a researcher handling lab equipment and writes on glass plates.]

…and this really more closely simulates what actually happens out there in the real world.

[Jennifer Pacan talks to the camera.]

Text on screen: Jennifer Pacan – Pilot Plant Manager, Biological Safety Officer – Guelph Research and Development Centre

Jennifer Pacan: We have to use some specialized equipment to make certain that any aerosols generated within the pilot plant are retained within the pilot plant…

[An overhead view of a worker pushing a trolley through an entrance of the pilot plant. A close-up view of a wall mounted thermometer. Cut to a time lapse of the thermometer and the worker entering the pilot plant with the trolley. An inside view of the pilot plant. A time lapse continues of the researchers working with equipment in the pilot plant.]

…And once in the pilot plant all the equipment is handled inside primary containment units, which function in the same manner…

[A montage of researchers working with lab equipment within the pilot plant. Cut to a view of one of the containment units.]

…as the much smaller scale biological safety cabinets, that you see in the laboratory.

[A view of the containment units and the biological safety cabinets within the laboratory.]

Balamurugan: There's two primary areas of focus in the pilot plant.

[Balamurugan puts on a hair net.]

One is mitigation of food safety risks for the industry, and the second is the development and validation of food processing technologies from a food safety perspective.

[A close-up view of him stepping on a foot mat while wearing boots. Cut to a view of a researcher working at a station and another researcher taking a picture of a piece of raw meat and then cutting into the meat. The researcher places a piece of the meat in some food processing technologies.]

[A time-lapse montage includes researchers working with raw meat and other various lab equipment.]

Daphne Nuys-Hall: The pilot plant affords the industry an opportunity to send their products, hand over their processes to the facility to be validated to ensure, they're meeting the food safety…

[A close-up view of researchers working together within the pilot plant. Cut to a close-up view of a researcher sprinkling seasoning on pieces of raw meat that is stored in a container.]

…and regulatory requirement, for both the domestic and international markets.

[A montage of several researchers handling pieces of raw meat and placing the meat in bags and sealing containers filled with the meat. They transfer and store the containers of meat in a large freezer.]

Sampathkumar Balamurugan: The partnership is dependent on the industry coming to us with an issue and giving us enough information for us to understand, how the product is manufactured, so we can actually replicate the entire process.

[A close-up view of researchers hanging pieces of raw meat. Cut to researchers handling the raw meat and hanging the meat in a meat curing chamber.]

Jennifer Pacan: Our industry partners can expect discretion and take confidence in our robust standard operating procedures and significant documentation

[An aerial view of the research centre. A view of two researchers walking through a laboratory. The researchers spray liquid onto containers.]

Jeffrey Farber: In addition this pilot plant can provide training for the next generation of food safety leaders and scientists.

[A montage of researchers working and using various lab equipment. A close-up view of data on a screen and frozen test tubes covered in frost.]

[An aerial view of the research centre in Guelph.]

Balamurugan: I think it's useful and important for the industry to understand that a containment facility such as the pilot plant exists…

[An overhead view of four researchers handling raw meat. Cut to a researcher working in the pilot plant.]

…for the industry to come so we can assist them with their food safety requirements.

[An aerial view of the research centre.]

Text on screen: For improved food safety and process validation… Contact us today… aafc.grdcpilotplant-rdcgusinepilote.aac@canada.ca

[Music ends]


93 Stone Road West
Guelph, ON N1G 5C9
(226) 217-8200

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