Director Nigel French awarded MPI Food Safety Award

5 July 2018

Last night at the NZIFST conference dinner in Hamilton, Minister Damien O’Connor announced that Director Nigel French has won the annual MPI Award for Significant Contribution to Food Safety. 

His leadership has impacted on the whole food safety and science research system in New Zealand, and has had considerable impact internationally.

Through his mana and diplomacy, the Centre has brought together industry, government and researchers to enhance New Zealand's reputation with local and overseas consumers as a safe, quality, trustworthy food producer.  The Centre’s research spectrum is extensive and will ensure that New Zealand’s reputation is always based on reality.

Nigel arrived in New Zealand in 2004, already regarded as a world expert on infectious diseases, in particular zoonotic diseases and Campylobacter.  He immediately set about a complex research programme which pinpointed the sources of food-borne Campylobacter infections and informed interventions which halved the rate of infection by 2007/8. His innovative research programme and international standing gave him the authority and credibility to influence industry to make the necessary interventions.  His application of whole genome sequencing to the study of campylobacter evolution proved its worth during the waterborne outbreak in Havelock North.

Nigel has led research programmes that have made major advances in epidemiology, statistics and modelling, and the tools developed by this research have been applied to great effect to improve public health.

He has communicated practical messages about food safety and antimicrobial resistance to over half a million New Zealanders through large circulation, syndicated newspaper articles.

The Award came the day after the second very successful annual meeting of the Centre in Hamilton, and a panel discussion about the future of food, and what that future will mean for New Zealand producers and consumers.  It was chaired by Kim Hill, and will be broadcast soon by RNZ National.

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