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Australia's first dedicated fresh food safety centre established

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Australia and New Zealand’s first dedicated research centre into the safety of fresh food products has been established.

The Fresh Produce Safety Centre is designed to address research gaps in the food safety sector including how Australian wild animals may contaminate vegetables.

University of Sydney associate professor, Robyn McConchie, who has been instrumental in the development of the centre, says that we currently know very little about the impact the Australian wildlife may have on the safety of fresh food.

"We know what pigs and birds do in Europe and the United States," McConchie told ABC News. "But what about our wildlife?

"If they tramp through a field of lettuce are they likely to contaminate paddocks?

"…We have different salmonellas to those in Europe and the United States; so how do they survive in the soil? How long do they last? Are they pathogenic and are they going to make us really ill?"

The main goals of the centre are to:

  • Call for and oversee food safety research projects that are highly relevant to industry
  • Provide food safety information, news, education and outreach to the industry
  • Engage with regulatory and other organisations for effective and efficient food safety management leading to enhanced food safety outcomes.

The centre is funded, and will be led by the Australian and New Zealand fresh produce industries and is hosted by the University of Sydney.

The centre’s first conference will be held on 11 August, 2014 at the University of Sydney.

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