The introduction of Covid-19 vaccination mandates for workers has stimulated international discussion on whether we should mandate vaccines to protect consumers against other viruses, such as Hepatitis A (HAV).​

While there is no evidence that food or food packaging are significant transmission pathways for Covid-19, there are steps that food companies can take to reduce the risk of contamination, argues Professor Phil Bremer, Dr Catherine McLeod, Dr Joanne Kingsbury and Dr Rob Lake.

Covid-19 got in the way of many events this year, including the Centre’s annual symposium.  However, some of the action from the 2019 meeting features in a documentary about the PM’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Dame Juliet Gerrard.  It is screening in Wellington as part of the NZ International Film Festival.

The Centre welcomes a new connection with the many great scientists at Lincoln University through foremost food safety researcher, Associate Professor Stephen On.  Stephen is Associate Dean of research and heads Lincoln’s wine, food and molecular biosciences department.

Although horizon scanning and future-proofing is an established function in most organisations, the Centre can play an important role for its members by coordinating and  sharing information.

We have decided to deliver the annual symposium presentations via a series of (free) webinars.  The first, on

The Centre will routinely record and make available all the webinar presentations which were to be part of the annual symposium programme.

Sorry folks - you won’t be surprised by our decision to postpone our symposium by a few weeks, including the women’s breakfast and evening panel sessions, and the follow-on NZ-China Food Protection Network workshop.

Centre and ESR scientists submitted an article to news outlet Stuff warning consumers about the incursion of Salmonella Enteritidis, which has been linked to 114 cases of salmonellosis since 2019.  Forty percent of those infected ended up in hospital.

The Centre warmly congratulates Denver McGregor, well-deserved recipient of MPI’s New Zealand Food Safety “Significant Contribution to Food Safety Award”.

The Centre’s annual one-day forum is a must for anyone with a professional interest in food safety. See the full programme here.

The Centre has been working alongside MPI, ESR and Ministry of Health staff to investigate the presence of Salmonella Enteritidis at a North Island hatchery, which supplies a number of egg producers.

Dr Kevin Marshall was founding chair of the NZ Food Safety Science & Research Centre, steering it through to the successful operating model we have today.  It was no easy task bringing together all the different parties in government, industry and science.

Director Dr Catherine McLeod is pleased to welcome three new members to the Centre.

Centre chief scientist, Distinguished Professor Nigel French, appears in this newly released documentary on whole genome sequencing, which is part of a series (Science & ...) about the work of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor, Dame Juliet Gerrard.  It has been supported by the Centre.

Centre Chief Scientist, Distinguished Professor Nigel French, has been appointed as a member of the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (

Listen to this radio interview with Laura Biessy, who is completing her Centre co-funded PhD research into the shellfish toxin, Tetrodotoxin, which you may recall killed several dogs on Auckland beaches.

As if prescient, Centre Director Dr Catherine McLeod had just submitted an article to the Stuff science editor about norovirus when news broke of a cluster of infections at early childcare centres in Auckland. The article was published on Monday, and a shortened version posted on their website.

The Centre, in partnership with Plant & Food Research, won a $100,000 MBIE Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund (VMCF) grant to help the Uawa/Tolaga Bay community grow a safe watercress supply for the community.

The Centre warmly congratulates Professor Phil Bremer on receiving the 2020 J C Andrews Award, the most prestigious award given by NZIFST.  It is presented annually in memory of Massey University's first Chancellor, Dr Jack Clark Andrews, who proposed that a food technology degree course be established at Massey.

Excitement is building as results come in from Centre Associate Director Dr Gale Brightwell’s experiments to produce a novel coronavirus disinfectant that is safer to use or more effective than conventional UV light.

In 2014, an outbreak of yersiniosis affecting around 220 people was attributed to fresh produce, probably lettuce and carrots, although this could not be confirmed.

With a doubling of reported yersiniosis cases in under five years, ESR science leader Dr Brent Gilpin will be using a $1.3m grant from the Health Research Council (HRC) to learn more about the bacterium,Yersinia enterocolitica, its effects on people, and likely sources of infection, including undercooked pork, pets, farm anima

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, turned their attention to food science and technology on 17 September, the day that the country’s second quarter GDP results showed a 12.2% contraction.  The good economic news was that food sector returns were hardly dented by the pandemic.  

Distinguished Professor Nigel French is the Centre’s chief science advisor.  Under the auspices of the Centre, and at the invitation of The Conversation, he wrote a feature on the powerful applications of genome sequencing in infectious disease control, with reference to COVID-19 and Mycoplasma bovis.

FoodNZ magazine has published a feature article on the Centre, explaining its scope, and dramatic recent events to support industry through Covid-19 and lockdown.

The Centre is now preparing for a possible return of community transmission by advising members on what PPE to use. 

The Centre’s deputy director and leader of the Seafood Safety research programme, Dr Tim Harwood, has been seconded by the Ministry for Primary Industries to spend a couple of days a fortnight at their head office in Wellington, starting in October.

Director of the Centre, Dr Catherine McLeod, is pleased to welcome two very interesting new members into the food safety science fold:
Scientists from AgResearch and Massey University will work with Christchurch firm Energylight Group Ltd to research light combinations that can be used to sanitise surfaces and circulating air.
The Centre is delighted to welcome Mr Collier Isaacs as Chair of the Board, for a two-year term, effective 1 July.
Helping members (and the wider food industry) prevent food spoilage is a research priority for the Centre.

The Centre and United Fresh ran a well-attended and practical food safety science workshop in Auckland on 12 March.

The Centre members and ESR have clubbed together to produce an urgent review of the literature about coronaviruses and examination of the accumulating evidence about COVID-19 (as at 11 March), which answers questions many of our members have about the risks of food producers and handlers transmitting the virus.

Dr Catherine McLeod, Director of the New Zealand Food Safety Science & Research Centre is delighted to announce new industry members Fonterra, Tatua Cooperative Dairy Company, Kono NZ LP, Trust Codes and affiliate member AsureQuality.

On Friday 28 February, Dr Catherine McLeod, Director of the Centre, used the wonders of digital connectivity to deliver an information-rich presentation on foodborne viruses to the national food safety community. No one had to budge from their desks.

Dr Anne Astin, well known to the food safety science communities in Australia and New Zealand, has been honoured in this year’s Order of Australia awards “for significant service to the dairy industry, and to food safety regulations.”  Anne is a member of the Centre’s international science advisory panel, and has been an invol

Centre Chief Scientist, Distinguished Professor Nigel French, is an international authority on zoonotic diseases and currently one of the experts consulted by news media on the coronavirus outbreak.

Centre Deputy Director, Dr Tim Harwood, talks to RNZ Nine to Noon presenter, Lynn Freeman, about a new method Cawthron Institute researchers have developed to detect toxins in seafood, setting a world standard for the industry globally.

As part of the response to the mid-term review, the Board is transitioning towards skills-based governance for the Centre. Three new independent board members have been appointed.

Following an extensive search and recruitment process, we are delighted to advise that Dr Catherine McLeod  will be commencing in the role of Director, New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre as of 23 September. She will take up the role on a full-time basis and will be based in Nelson.

The Centre is pleased to announce that the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ) has become one of the first industry members to sign up with the Centre under the new funding regime.

The Centre's annual symposium in Christchurch, on 1 July, comprised a rich menu of presentations on global and national food safety science, focusing on developments with whole genome sequencing, and emerging risks and opportunities.  It includes a statement by Chair Kevin Marshall about the outcome of the Centre's mid-term re

At the Centre's annual symposium in Christchurch on 1 July, the after lunch slot was enlivened by 11 superbly concise, informative and entertaining three-minute thesis presentations.  There have to be winners; there were certainly no losers. 

Chair Miranda Mirosa, University of Otago, announced the winners:

See the latest article co-authored by Professor Nigel French in the widely read Catalyst section, which appeared on Monday 3 June. 

The NZ Food Safety Science & Research Centre (NZFSSRC) is organising a special breakfast for women attending its annual symposium in Christchurch on 1 July, 7.15am to 8.45am, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Thanks to support from Zespri, the breakfast and inspiration that comes with it are complimentary.

Register here for the Centre’s annual symposium, this year at the Christchurch Town Hall on Monday 1 July.

Tracking the origin of foods to the farm, the orchard, the factory, is vital to dealing with food safety events. There are many other qualitative marketing reasons for wanting to validate the provenance of foods.

Yersinia infections in humans and farm animals have been steadily increasing in the last 10 years.  It is the third most prevalent foodborne bacterial infection, with 1200 cases reported last year.  In 2014 there was a significant outbreak in Canterbury, Auckland, Wellington and the Bay of Plenty, which made 351 people sick an

Associate Professor Miranda Mirosa (University of Otago) has been appointed as an Independent Specialist Advisor to Parliament’s Environment Select Committee, which has asked for a briefing on food waste.  Miranda has observed representations to the committee and read the submissions, and will make a report with recommendation

In an article published in the Otago Daily Times, Dr Miranda Mirosa reported on some of the new forms of packaging scientists are developing to deliver food in the best possible condition, and in response to consumer demand to get rid of plastic.  She and University of Otago colleagues Professor Phil Bremer and PhD student Eri

Marine toxin specialist at the Cawthron Institute, Dr Tim Harwood, has been appointed the deputy director of the Centre.  Tim has been involved with the Centre since its inception in 2016 and leads the chemical diagnostics capability platform.

Listen to this informative (and entertaining) interview with US foodborne disease expert, Dr Robert Tauxe, on RNZ National, following his tour of New Zealand as a guest of NZFSSRC.

NZFSSRC Director Nigel French was privileged to be the only New Zealander (as far as he could tell)  out of 2000 invited to attend the Gates Foundation Summit in Berlin in October.  This was likely in recognition of his role as technical adviser on a Bill and Melinda Gates research project to study the effect of pathogens, esp

Eminent US food safety scientist, Dr Robert Tauxe, will be touring New Zealand late October/early November and will give free public talks in Palmerston North (24/10), Tauranga (25/10), Christchurch (30/10) Dunedin (31/10), Wellington (01/11), hosted by NZFSSRC, please reserve a seat at

This report is from the New Zealand Food Safety and The Food Safety Assurance and Advisory Council research report

The first cases of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) from eating shellfish were reported in New Zealand in the mid-1990s.  Shellfish accumulate the biotoxin through filter-feeding on dinoflagellates containing the poison saxitoxin.  The shellfish are not harmed by it.  The Cawthron Institute has developed very fast and effic

Kim Hill discusses The Future of Food and what it means for NZ producers and consumers, with Professor Martin Cole, Professor Caroline Saunders, Dr Miranda Mirosa, and Masterchef, Ray McVinnie.  Recorded for broadcast by RNZ National in association with the NZFSSRC, as part of its annual meeting in Hamilton on 2 July.

5 July 2018

Last night at the NZIFST conference dinner in Hamilton, Minister Damien O’Connor announced that Director Nigel French has won the annual MPI Award for Significant Contribution to Food Safety. 

Food safety is a major concern worldwide and in New Zealand. Ensuring our food is safe to consume incorporates many facets of research from microbiology to traceability, including detection of adulterants.

An industry-led CRC launched last week is helping Australia’s farmers, food producers and food industry businesses embrace digital technologies to improve their productivity, strengthen their branding and create new jobs and export opportunities.

Hear RNZ National presenter Kim Hill discuss ‘The Future of Food…and what it means for New Zealand producers and consumers’, with four experts: Martin Cole (CSIRO), Caroline Saunders (Lincoln University), Miranda Mirosa (University of Otago) and Ray McVinnie (chef, food writer and food safety adviser)

No evidence that Mycoplasma bovis can affect humans through the food chain, and therefore is not a food safety risk

Please join us in Hamilton on Monday 02 July 2018 for our Annual Symposium that is being held in conjunction with the NZIFST Conference (3-5 July 2018).

On Monday, 7 May, the Ministry for Primary Industries launched the NZ Food Safety Business Unit. NZFSSRC congratulates Paul Dansted and Allan Kinsella on their appointments.


Paul Dansted – Director, Food Regulation

Join us for this year's workshop

Welcome to the Data Analytics for Food Safety Workshop. Food safety is a major concern worldwide and in New Zealand. Ensuring our food is safe to consume incorporates many facets of research from microbiology to traceability, including detection of adulterants.

At the Department of Food Science at the University of Otago, we are finding ways to control the germination of B. cereus spores in heat sensitive foods such as egg white.

It is a huge pleasure to announce that Nigel has been awarded the title of Distinguished Professor, which is the highest honour Massey University can bestow on a member of its academic staff and reflects the importance it places on the work and achievement of the recipients.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has launched a new Postgraduate Science Scholarship. The scholarship is open to Masters and PhD candidates who are or will be engaged in primary industry relevant research at a New Zealand tertiary education institution.

In response to concerns about the fragmented nature of research in the food safety science research area, and a possible lack of coordination, the Centre has compiled an inventory of who’s doing what in which organisation.

Ever growing public safety concerns about food safety means that New Zealand must keep pace with global food safety testing and diagnostic technologies.

The public may have many questions and concerns following the serious case of food poisoning, apparently from Clostridium botulinum, that has paralysed three people in the Waikato since mid-November.  It is suspected, but not yet confirmed, that the source was the wild pork they ate just minutes before they became violently ill and collapsed.

The millions of plastic water bottles we use each year, and all other clear no 1 plastics, can now go to Flight Plastics Ltd, Lower Hutt, for recycling and rebirth as food grade packaging and other products, which can be recycled again, indefinitely. The recycling technology comes from Europe.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) recently conducted a study on New Zealand foods that analysed 74 different packaged and takeaway foods and tested them to see whether chemicals from the packaging had been transferred onto the food.

Many infectious diseases of people, including Ebola virus, HIV/AIDS, and pandemic influenza, are of animal origin (zoonoses). New diseases are emerging as humans encroach upon wildlife habitats. Dr Hayman is trying to understand when and why these pathogens jump to humans.

Professor Charles Eason received the Thomson Medal at this year’s Research Honours Dinner in Auckland on 10 October.

ESR is researching ways to improve Yersinia laboratory methods so that potential food sources or reservoirs harbouring Yersinia can be identified.

It seems that sewage-contaminated mussels may be the culprit in an outbreak of Paratyphoid Fever in Hawke's Bay which has so far (as at 26 September) hospitalised five out of the six people infected. Three of these people ate shellfish collected from Ahuriri, Napier.

"Although many studies have demonstrated an association between raw milk consumption and lower rates of diseases such as allergies and asthma, the evidence to date is still considered inconclusive, with observed associations being prone to confounding by other exposures. In contrast, the evidence that the consumption of raw milk is associated with ill-health is indisputable - the consumption of unpasteurised milk has been associated with a large number of outbreaks of infectious disease around the world, including New Zealand."

Bringing together infectious diseases scientists and professionals from the fields of human, animal and environmental health.

13 -14 December 2017, Nordmeyer Theatre University of Otago, Wellington

Click here to view the latest news from the Australia & New Zealand Fresh Produce Safety Centre

Kathryn Ryan, Nine to Noon programme, Radio NZ National, talks to Dr Andrew Kralicek about his idea for a general purpose bio-sensor based on insects' phenomenal sense of smell. Andrew leads the molecular sensing team at Plant & Food Research.

Lynn Freeman, Radio NZ National Nine to Noon programme, talks to Dr Anne Astin about why the Centre was established and scopes its roles.  Dr Astin is a member of the NZFSSRC International Advisory Board, and attended the annual meeting of the Centre on 3 July.

Ms Kim Hill. Radio NZ National, interviews Professor Arie Havelaar, about a range of food safety issues, following the Centre's annual meeting in Nelson, 3 July. Professor Havelaar is on the Centre's International Science Advisory Panel.

Who wasn't at the first annual meeting of the NZ Food Safety Science & Research Centre, held in sunny Nelson on 3 July? What a great first gathering of people from industry, government and science interested in protecting public health and the integrity and reputation of our food exports.

The team at NZFSSRC congratulate Dr Lesley Rhodes on her for her appointment as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) “For services to science and marine farming”.

Dr Andrew Kralicek, Plant and Food Research, Auckland

Andrew Kralicek’s dream is in view.  A portable, affordable, accurate device to detect tiny concentrations of volatile organic compounds.  Such a biosensor could be used to indicate:

To be held in Auckland on 28 and 29 June 2017, the 2017 Food Integrity Conference will focus on how to protect the integrity of NZ food exports to the rest of the world.

Please join us in Nelson on Monday 03 July 2017 for our inaugural annual meeting that is being held in conjunction with the NZIFST Conference (4-6 July 2017).

On a wharf in Mapua, overlooking the largest estuary in New Zealand, began a company that uses brick kilns, manuka shavings, smoke, and a simple brine to turn out premium seafood.

More than 20% of fresh-cut sliced apples in the US are now processed using New Zealand technology.

Cawthron has been helping the Tasmanian seafood industry improve testing for paralytic shellfish toxins – a recurring problem for their shellfish aquaculture sector.

A food safety test recently developed by scientists at Cawthron Institute and the UK's Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is proving valuable to shellfish industry and consumers.

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.