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Supporting research into Australian bush foods

The Darwin-based company, Karen Sheldon Catering, has teamed up with researchers from the University of Queensland on a project to extend the shelf life of food using natural preservatives from native plants.

With Innovation Connections funding the company has been able to draw on the expertise of University of Queensland researchers to improve the shelf life and nutritional value of the frozen food items they produce for remote community stores.

“Our collaboration with the University of Queensland has provided us with invaluable knowledge on the nutritional, antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities of Kakadu Plum and other native bush foods,” says company director, Sarah Hickey.

“Left to our own devices and without the support of Innovation Connections, we would not have been able to acquire this type of food science and knowledge.”

Earlier research collaboration between the company and the university, supported by the Australian Government, provided scientific proof that the Kakadu Plum (and the native Davidson Plum) could extend the shelf life of frozen meals by up to 18 months.

The company accessed an Innovation Connections grant in 2016 to continue working with the university to develop products to commercially produce nutritious par-baked breads using native plant ingredients.