Wanganui Chronicle

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

LAST WEEK I attended the launch of the Food Safety Science and Research Centre at Massey University in Palmerston North, with Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew.

The Food Safety Science and Research Centre was formed as a partnership between the Government, industry organisations and research institutions. Its focus is to ensure New Zealand's foodsafety system remains among the best in the world. It's an initiative that evolved from recommendations following the Fonterra botulism scare in 2013.

Industry funders the Dairy Companies Association, the Meat Industry Association and Zespri have committed $2.05 million per annum.

The Government will match this contribution, bringing total funding to $4.1 million a year.

The centre will use the best science available to protect and enhance our international reputation as a producer of safe and trustworthy food.

The research will meet the needs of industry by helping to grow exports and ensuring local food and beverage businesses have consistent access to foreign markets.

The aim is to get further industry organisations on board over time, both to boost funding and to ensure the research is relevant, with broad commercial applications.

New Zealand prides itself as a producer of safe, high-quality food. Our exports are dependent on a robust and internationally credible food-safety system.

The Food Safety Science and Research Centre will see some of our best scientists collaborating on work programmes that cut across different food and beverage sectors, placing us as a global leader in food-safety science.

The research that will be conducted by centre partners also aims to protect New Zealanders by minimising the risks of foodborne illness such as salmonella and campylobacter.

It will go beyond short-term, reactive issues to include research aimed at pre-empting emerging food-safety risks across multiple sectors.

Research partners include hosts Massey University along with AgResearch, Cawthron Institute, ESR, Plant and Food Research, the University of Auckland and the University of Otago.

By working together to share and co-ordinate resources, we have an opportunity to both deliver excellent food-safety science and research and to boost our capability and international reputation in this field. We must continue to lead the world as producers of the safest foods possible.

We also had Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman in the Rangitikei last week.

He visited a number of different health entities throughout the region. He spoke of the challenges faced by a burgeoning health budget in a sector that will continue to experience increasing demands because of unprecedented scientific and technological advancement and an ageing population.

Tomorrow, Minister of Finance Bill English will present his eighth Budget.

While we know some of the content, it's not too long to wait and find out what else it contains.