New ARC Centre to future-proof Australia's fresh food supply

5 March 2019
The centre will train industry-ready food safety researchers
Supporting an industry increasingly innovated by scientific advancements, the University of Sydney has launched a specialist training hub which will conduct research into food safety and develop methods to safeguard Australia's fruit and vegetable industries.

The centre was officially launched at the University of Sydney by Professor Martin Cole (CSIRO), Dr Robert Mun (Australian Research Council), Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence (University of Sydney), the Hon Julian Leeser (Member for Berowra), Professor Robyn McConchie (University of Sydney), and Dr Mirjana Prica (Food Innovation Australia).

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry has been funded by the Australian Research Council, the NSW Food Authority and eighteen industry partners from agricultural and retail sectors, that have aligned to promote food safety practices across all levels of food production and supply chains.

The centre is administered by the University of Sydney and consists of a multi-disciplinary team of academics with research areas spanning genome editing, water management, horticulture, pathogen detection and food safety.

Officially opening the training centre was Centre Director and Professor of Horticulture Robyn McConchie who highlighted the University’s role in driving high-level research and researcher training that will be used to improve industry practices and standards.

“Working with a multidisciplinary team and a range of industry partners, the centre will be working towards improving commercial food safety practices, whilst minimising and preventing food safety risks such as human pathogen outbreaks,” she said.

As Australia’s population grows and our country’s role as a global food producer increases, future-proofing our food supply and competitiveness through scientific and engineering advancements is a welcome move.
Professor Robyn McConchie

Speaking at the launch, University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence drew on the vital role that researchers play in developing safety practices and maintaining integrity within Australia’s agricultural and food-production industry.

“Maintaining food safety in our supply chains is crucial for the future of Australia and our region. The new Training Centre is a tremendous opportunity for the University and our researchers to work and learn from real-world professionals who are already grappling with these issues,’ he said.

“A big thank you to the Minister and the Federal Government for their support on this important project,” he concluded.

Internationally recognised food scientist, CSIRO Agriculture and Food Deputy Director Professor Martin Cole welcomed the new centre, drawing on the importance of bolstering Australia's food production capacity at a time increasingly impacted by environmental shifts and globalisation.

“There are several key trends impacting the way food is consumed both in Australia and our major export markets. Climate change and shifts in dietary behaviour are two major drivers impacting the way food is cultivated and distributed," he said.

"To build resilience it's essential we invest in the technology, science and practices which allow us to innovate all levels of supply chains, to decrease risks of food-borne diseases, strengthen our future food supply and promote Australia's economic growth within this industry," he concluded.

The ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry is funded by the Australian Government and industry partners, and is administered by the University of Sydney.

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