Sixteen PhD candidates and Prof Tjakko Abee of the Laboratory of Food Microbiology, Wageningen University (FHM, WU) visited Canada as our regularly biannual overseas study trip. A two-week program had been well planned mostly focusing on research exchange and local experience, with the contribution from committee and the rest of the participants. With kindly support from the department and our sponsors, we were able to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and reached the new continent during one of the most convenient season in this “country of maple”. Apart from the intensive urban Toronto area, Wageningen-like university town Guelph, the federal capital Ottawa to France-style Montreal, we had drawn a wonderful curve at eastern Canada. Besides the brief record in this booklet, more details and clips could be found in our special DVD and in all lucky participants’ brains. The presentations about our current research, were provided aiming to specific institutions at all stops; on the other side, we enrich our knowledge though hosts’ speeches, positively questioning and lab/plant tours.

We visited a few food production plants including Sunny Crunch Food, Cool Beer Brewery, Campbell Soup, Unilever (Rexdale), Nestle Water in the first week. These companies are all within great Toronto area, which is the biggest urban area in Canada, at northern shore of Ontario Lake and close to United States. As a result, not only Canadian market, but also U.S. market is easily reached by these companies, except the local beer brewery. However, after “9:11” terrorist attack, the control for exporting to the opposite side of the lake has been increasingly strict and complicated. In Canada, dual language (English and French) is required and the health claim is strictly authorized. Comparing to European market, the consumption of canned food and genetically modified product is much higher due to the extremely cold weather in winter and relevant policy. The trend of healthy or functional food is concerned quite often, such as pro/prebiotics, low sodium, trans-free and omega-3 rich products. Immigrants bring cheaper labor resource; at the same time, product diversity has to be focused on for these consumers from all over the world.

Furthermore, academic exchange in food microbiology is our main target in this trip. A symposium in food microbiology was held in University of Guelph (UofG) on Friday June 27th . More than 70 faculties and graduate students attended this successful and abstractive symposium during long summer holidays in Canada. After host’s opening and Prof Abee’s guest’s introduction, in total fourteen presentations were given by both sides. In bad bugs, to be different from our intensive research on Listeria monocytogenes and spore-formers, Staphylococcus spp., Salmonella and E. coli are paid more attention in Guelph. Pre/probiotics seems a hot issue in fermentation part, while we also focus on certain traditional fermented food, such as tempe and mung bean due to our long history of helping developing countries.
We also visited a series of institutes in Guelph including Agriculture and Agrifood Canada (AAFC), Laboratory of Food borne Zoonoses (LFZ), Guelph Food Technology Centre (GFTC), Canadian Institute of Food Safety (RIFS). In the second week, we also visited Food Safety Inspection Agency and the microbiology research division of Health Canada in Ottawa. McGill University at Montreal was our last stop and four presentations about characterization of glutelins, phenolic lipids as anti-oxidants and microbial safety in the pre-harvest environment were offered by the graduate students there.

During the weekend, we had amazing social activities including Niagara Falls, Toronto island, Toronto Science Centre, CN-Tower and adventurous ATV-driving and canoe-boating. Most interestingly, we spent a whole Tuesday and had a lot of fun in Ottawa during annual Canada Day.