Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye have announced the request for expressions of interest for a Food Safety Science and Research Centre.
Establishing a New Zealand centre of food safety science and research is one of the 29 recommendations from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, released in December last year.
“The centre will ensure delivery of excellent food safety science and research while also minimising the risks of foodborne illness and maximising economic growth opportunities,” Mr Joyce says.
“When the Government accepted the recommendations of the WPC Inquiry we undertook to make funding available for food safety science and research with a view to having further funding contributions from industry.
“The centre will be funded by at least $5 million per year made up of contributions from Government and industry.
“The first step in establishing the centre is to seek expressions of interest from existing research organisations.”
Ms Kaye said the centre would ensure New Zealand’s food safety system remained among the best in the world.
“It will focus on cutting-edge, internationally recognised research into key aspects of food safety.
“In addition to being able to contribute funding to the centre, key industry people will be asked to be part of an advisory panel to inform the centre’s work. This ensures the centre’s work is directly relevant to industry.
“The new centre is part of an overall Government package of improvements to ensure New Zealand’s food safety system remains at the forefront internationally. It will sit alongside the new Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council. The council will set the context and provide high-level guidance to the Food Safety Science and Research Centre.
“I believe this investment and the centre will enable an increased level of food safety knowledge and capability across the science sector, industry and government,” Ms Kaye says.
From the expressions of interest, a shortlist of organisations will be invited to attend a workshop to refine the centre’s scope, structure and functions. The outputs of the workshop will be used to design the second step, which is a request for proposal process from organisations which attended the workshop and are interested in hosting the centre.
The centre is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.