News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Top scientist appointed food safety director

Monday 15 August, 2016

Top scientist appointed food safety director

Massey University’s Professor Nigel French, a world leader in molecular epidemiology and public health research, has been appointed the inaugural director of the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre.

The centre, launched three months ago, is jointly funded by industry 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 –¬ Auckland, Otago 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 Britan 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 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.”


Professor French was appointed Professor of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health at Massey University in 2004. He has led research programmes that have informed the control of infectious diseases in New Zealand, with a focus on reducing the public health impact of food and water-borne pathogens. He has supervised 37 PhD students to successful completion and 21 postdoctoral research fellows and is the author is 241 peer-reviewed journal articles and six book chapters. In 2012, he received the Massey University Research Medal, the University’s highest award for an individual researcher, in recognition of his work on food safety and the control of infectious disease.

He founded the Molecular Epidemiology and Public Health laboratory in 2005, which has grown to become one of the most successful research groups in New Zealand. In 2012 he established the Infectious Disease Research Centre bringing together six research groups across Massey University, including mEpiLab and the EpiCentre, in a multidisciplinary network, comprising mathematical modellers and statisticians, micro and molecular biologists and evolutionary biologists. In 2014 he was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, in recognition of his contribution to the control of foodborne disease, both in New Zealand and overseas. His work has seen him acquire $60 million in research funding since 1998, including two prestigious Royal Society Marsden Fund grants.

When he became establishment director last year, he handed over the leadership of mEpiLab to Dr David Hayman and Dr Jackie Benschop, while retaining an executive role in the group.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Ockhams: Pip Adam Wins Premier Book Award

A novel which judges say ‘will bring readers back from the dead’ has won the 2018 $50,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize in the country’s premier book awards. More>>


Voyager Award Winner: “Sempy’s Xmas”

Congratulations to Kent Blechynden, who won a Voyager Media Award for this photo essay, published on Scoop in December.

Michael “Semp” Semple is an old school punk rocker from New Plymouth who is on the methadone programme... On Christmas day he thought he would be alone but two of his mates, “Mikey” and “Stacey”, turned up for some banter. More>>


Auckland & Christchurch: Bob Dylan Returns To NZ

The cross-generational icon will take in Auckland’s Spark Arena on Sunday 26th August and Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena on Tuesday 28th August. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Who Killed Jane?

This is an important book. Why? Because any publication that soberly and sensibly attempts to cast light on an unsolved murder is important, for the very real reasons that not only do the bereaved require and deserve a sense of closure, but that the murderer or murderers may be closer to being confirmed, arrested, tried. More>>

Comedy Fest: A Tasty Programme

2018 NZ INTERNATIONAL 26 APRIL – 20 MAY This April and May the 2018 NZ International Comedy Festival with Best Foods Mayo, hits Auckland and Wellington with one of the tastiest comedy line-ups of its 26-year-old history!... More>>


Max Rashbrooke Review: Ravishing Berlioz And Ravel

In this engaging, French-inflected performance, full of strengths, perhaps the standout was the mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke. Wellington has been visited by a few high profile singers recently, notably Anne Sofie von Otter, but few have impressed me as much ... More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland