The Institute of Food Research faces rationalisation following a research council probe which concludes that the institute's two-site structure has "compromised" key multidisciplinary research.
The institute, allied to the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, is located at Norwich and Reading and has a workforce of 390.
The report, from a working group set up by the BBSRC, says the split site has also led to difficulties in the institute maintaining a critical mass in key areas of research. The institute's work focuses on three areas: food safety; food choice, diet and health; and food materials science.
The working group, chaired by Bernard Atkinson, a BBSRC council member, says a simplified structure of senior management should be introduced and that the institute governing body "should become more closely involved with both the work of the institute and the BBSRC". The report calls for a new strategic research plan to be developed in close partnership with the major users and beneficiaries. The institute should have discussions as soon as possible with the new Food Standards Agency to ensure its research effectively underpins the work of the agency.
BBSRC chief executive Ray Baker says the council will consider the findings of the working group: "We shall be considering a range of possible changes which will optimise the institute's performance and secure its ability to contribute to the work of the Food Standards Agency when it is established." The council's Pounds 8 million per annum funding for the institute is to be maintained over the next 12 months.