Food Safety Centre ready to tackle issues

Work is well underway to protect New Zealand's $50 billion-plus food sector with an agreed programme of work for the New Zealand Food Safety Science & Research Centre.

The Centre joins seven science research partners to pool existing resources across partner organisations to form a virtual research centre and aims to promote, co-ordinate, and deliver food safety science and research for all of New Zealand.

Launched in May of last year, the Centre will work on risks of relevance to the dairy, meat and horticulture industries and a number of specific research projects are already underway.

The Centre’s research programme will cover multiple sectors, span the food chain from farm to consumer, and incorporate elements of risk management and risk communication. It will also carry out research that will improve food safety and public health in New Zealand..

Centre director, Professor Nigel French says that the Centre provides a focal point for food safety science and research, “it brings together the best minds under a single umbrella as well as the considerable resources of each partner," he says.

"Food safety is important for New Zealand as food industry exports make a major contribution to our economy, and our ability to protect and increase our international trade in food products, as well as protect the health of New Zealanders who depend on our food safety system.

Science and research are essential for managing food safety risks and preventing new food safety issues arising. "It provides an internationally credible voice for food safety, providing a strong science base for decision making in public health and the food industry."

Collaborators include crown research institutes AgResearch, Environmental Science and Research, Plant and Food Research, as well as the private scientific research organisation the Cawthron Institute, and three universities –­ the University of Auckland, the University of Otago and Massey, the host institution. A science leadership team, containing leading scientists from each partner organisation, ensures the best teams are deployed from across New Zealand to develop and undertake collaborative research programmes.

There have been a number of successful bids aligned with the Food Safety Science & Research Centre such as the New Zealand-China Food Protection Network, one of three MBIE-funded China Research Collaboration Centres.

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