Fresh Produce Safety Centre addresses gap in industry

Tuesday, 03 June, 2014

The University of Sydney is hosting a new industry-funded centre aimed at ensuring the safety of fresh food produced in Australia and New Zealand.

“The University of Sydney is delighted to host the new industry-funded Fresh Produce Safety Centre. We see the centre as the embodiment of the university’s desire to reach out to industry, identify research gaps and address research priorities in fresh produce safety,” said Professor Mark Adams, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the university.

The centre will work with each sector of the fresh produce supply chain, from growers and processors through to researchers and peak industry bodies.

According to the centre’s newly appointed board of directors, the centre was established to address an important gap in the industry: the need to promote research, outreach and education about fresh produce safety throughout Australia and New Zealand.

“Australia’s fruit and vegetable industry is worth over $7 billion and international markets seek out Australian products because of its record of food safety. We want to ensure our supply chains continue to operate on the best available information,” said Associate Professor Robyn McConchie, from the university’s Faculty of Agriculture and Environment.

Working with Horticulture Australia, Professor McConchie and Michael Worthington, CEO of Produce Marketing Association A-NZ, have brought together the support of industry stakeholders.

“While government, industry and quality assurance agencies are implementing protocols based on the best available information, there is a lack of general awareness of the risk of microbial contamination of fresh produce and more importantly, there is a lack of Australian-based research to inform the Australian industry of best practice,” Professor McConchie said.

“This centre will not only enhance our produce safety practices but will also deal with outbreaks in the region, particularly crisis mitigation, management and consumer communication.”

The research for the Fresh Produce Safety Centre is being conducted in partnership with researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The Fresh Produce Safety Conference will be held at the University of Sydney on 11 August 2014.

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