Massey chosen as site for food safety research centre

Food safety research centre to open next year

Massey University will be the site of the New Zealand Government’s Food Safety Science and Research Centre planned to open in mid-2015.

It will receive $5m funding for food safety research in the country and be managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Steven Joyce, Science and Innovation Minister, and Jo Goodhew, Food Safety Minister, said Massey was chosen by the Science Board after a number of proposals were considered.

Collaborative effort

The university submitted their proposal with support from research providers AgResearch, Cawthron Institute, Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Plant and Food Research, University of Auckland and University of Otago.

It will focus on biological, chemical, physical and radiological food safety hazards, hazards with substances added to food, risk assessment, management and communication of public good food safety issues; and links with science and research providers and programmes in New Zealand and internationally.

“New Zealand’s food exports are dependent on a robust and internationally credible food safety system,” said Joyce.

“It is vital therefore that New Zealand is a visible leader in food safety science and research, and remains a producer of trusted, high-quality food products.”

Fonterra WPC incident

The centre was a recommendation from the government inquiry into Fonterra’s whey protein concentrate (WPC) contamination scare last year.

The incident began when Fonterra warned eight customers that three batches of WPC contaminated with botulism-causing Clostridium botulinum had entered the supply chain in August 2013.

In response customers, including Danone-owned Dumex and Nutricia, initiated recalls across New Zealand, Asia, and the Middle East. Tests later revealed that the bacteria were a non-toxic Clostridium strain.

The centre will benefit from strong links with industry and will be co-funded by government and industry partners, Goodhew says. 

“By working with the food industry, the centre will ensure the delivery of excellent food safety science and research while reducing the risks of foodborne illness.”

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