Nigel French, first director of Food Safety Centre

Nigel French, inaugural director of the NZ Food Safety Research Centre.

The meat industry has welcomed the news of the appointment of the NZ Food Safety Science and Research Centre’s inaugural director.

Massey University’s Professor Nigel French, a world leader in molecular epidemiology and public health research, has been appointed to the role.

The centre, launched three months ago, is jointly funded by the meat industry through the Meat Industry Association, together with other food industry partners,  and the Government to deliver world-class strategic scientific research that benefits consumers.

It is a partnership between Crown Research Institutes AgResearch Limited, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited and the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited, as well as the private scientific research organisation the Cawthron Institute, and three universities – AucklandOtago and Massey.

It brings together top scientists to collaborate on work programmes to deliver food safety science and research that cuts across different food and beverage sectors.

Professor French has been the centre’s establishment director since last year. He has led large interdisciplinary research groups in Britain and New Zealand. His world-leading research has significantly advanced New Zealand’s capability in microbiology, molecular biology, epidemiology and public health.

Since its establishment the centre led successful bids for $500,000 for development of its business and research plans, $21 million for the centre and $1.25 million for the New Zealand-China Food Protection Network.

Centre chairman Dr Kevin Marshall says he and other members of the centre’s Governance Board are delighted to recruit someone of Professor French’s calibre, international standing and enthusiasm. “Professor French’s work is highly respected by New Zealand food industries and research providers alike and his appointment augers well for the future success of the work of the centre.”

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie says Professor French is highly regarded in his field. “Our association is looking forward to his leadership of the centre to deliver the science and research industry needs to support the ongoing success of New Zealand’s red meat sector.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) deputy-director of general policy and trade Deborah Roche says, “Professor French has already made a significant contribution to food safety science and the food safety system as a whole in New Zealand, including as a member of the MPI Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council. MPI is therefore delighted that Nigel will be heading up the centre.”

AgResearch research director and inaugural chair of the centre’s committee Professor Warren McNabb says, “Professor French’s appointment to the role is absolutely supported by all partners in the centre and we wish him every success in the new role.”

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