Fresh Produce Safety Centre launched for Australia and New Zealand

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 22nd January 2013

An innovative research centre to better manage fresh produce safety issues in Australia and New Zealand has just been launched.

Run by the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and PMA (Produce Marketing Association) Australia-New Zealand, the Fresh Produce Safety Centre has been established as part of a major project to identify a model and priorities for fresh produce safety research, awareness and the importance of enhancing current safety practices.

The project, using voluntary funds from both organisations, with matched funding from the Australian Government through Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL), focuses on three critical objectives.

The first objective of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre is to plan how the fresh produce industry will handle major food safety outbreaks in the region, particularly in crisis mitigation and management, and consumer communication.

Secondly, the Fresh Produce Safety Centre aims to identify research needs that are specific to the Australian and New Zealand fresh produce industry and to develop local or international collaborative partnerships in research, outreach and education to address these needs.

Further, the Fresh Produce Safety Centre aims to translate relevant research outcomes from the Center for Produce Safety at the University of California-Davis for application in the Australasian fresh produce industries.

Associate Professor Robyn McConchie, head of the Plant and Food Sciences department of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Sydney said that previous food safety issues confirmed the importance of the new Centre.

“The 2006 spinach crisis in the US and the European sprout problems of 2011 demonstrate the importance of our industry working together from paddock to plate to ensure continued fresh food safety in Australia and New Zealand,” Professor McConchie said.

“We anticipate developing a research model where we will be utilising existing research and information, as well as bringing together international experts, representatives of government, industry associations, growers, packers and processers, wholesalers and retailers, food safety trainers and practitioners,” Professor McConchie added.

A Food Safety Taskforce initiated by PMA Australia-New Zealand and comprising of representatives from all sectors of the supply chain, has also been appointed to assist in the project.

The website of the new Fresh Produce Safety Centre can be found here.

The Fresh Produce Safety Centre has been launched in Australia.