Food New Zealand magazine February/March23

Page 1

February/March 2023



Laboratory Suppliers – instruments, equipment, consumables

Lawson Williams’ National Staff Turnover and Employment Survey



ISSN 2744-7308 (ONLINE) ISSN 1175-4621 (PRINT)

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Food New Zealand 2 NZ’S AUTHORITY ON FOOD TECHNOLOGY, RESEARCH AND MANUFACTURING Contents 17 4 EDIT ORIAL 5 NEW SBITES 8 OVERVIEW Laboratory instruments, equipment and consumables 17 PACKAGING 2022 AIP Career & Salary Report 18 SLIDING ON Gloves don’t make you bulletproof 19 FOOD SAFETY Summer of food safety Vincent Arbuckle, Deputy Director General, New Zealand Food Safety 20 FOOD SAFETY FSANZ and your food safety enquiries Ben Sutherland, Principal Food Technologist | Standards & Surveillance, FSANZ
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Vibrio – the barometer of climate change

Graham Fletcher, Nicola King, Tim Harwood


Transforming food waste into animal feed


News from the world of lipids

Laurence Eyres FNZIFST


Staff turnover survey results released

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On the cover

A strong wrist and a pestle and mortar are seldom used in analytical labs nowadays. See pg. 9 for our Laboratory Supplies Overview.

Next editorial and advertising deadline: March 20th, 2023

Features for April/May 2023

Overview: Food Ingredients – flavours, colours, functional ingredients, core ingredients, clean label

February / March 2023 3
20 34 24

It’s been an interesting start to 2023.

Personally I started the New Year out at Kawau Island in the Waitemata Gulf, a trip that was shortened by weather (a trip home in face of a building easterly wind) and a family member having a fall that necessitated a visit to the emergency Doctor (all good now!).

So we started 2023 with a “hang in there” and “things can only get better” mantra.

The dark clouds of Covid are lifting in many areas but for all businesses the shortage of willing and able staff is biting hard. And of course for our food industry, burgeoning costs of shipping, fuel and compliance are digging deep into profits – necessitating price increases which always are a balancing act between re-building cash-flow and loss of sales. Supply chain issues are much in evidence, although I doubt many consumers realise just why supermarket shelves are no longer the cornucopia of everything you want.

I know that things will get better.

Pandemic disruptions are affecting the whole world, reminding us that our society is fragile – at all levels, from struggling low-wage earners to international corporates and governments.

As a food producing nation we export food commodities (and high value products) that support the New Zealand economy far more strongly than many Kiwis recognise. Without our (food) industry we are a third world nation, with a huge gap in our ability to support ourselves through trading in the world economy. Commodity meat and dairy demand and prices are supporting us more strongly than ever in the face of disruptive changes in commerce and trade. On the other side of the coin, labour shortages and supply chain disruptions are compromising the viability of labour-intensive and smaller operations that cannot invest in automated solutions. We are all aware that labour shortages are compounded by Covid restrictions on work attendance.

We cannot deny the effects of climate change, although the myriad points of view, with supporting data and modelling (which must always contain an element of crystal-ball-gazing), merely point the way: there is no one pathway out of this.

It is not all bad. The human race is astonishingly resilient and over millennia has overcome challenges to its survival countless, unknowable times and will do so again. In the face of the doomsayers regarding the effect of human activity on climate I suggest we remember that in spite of our ubiquity, the human race are passengers on a rock that circles the sun every year that has survived for a very long time and recovered from major disasters: we are powerless to change that. Human society will adapt to the changing climate, our home planet will continue to go its own way.

Where does that leave us? Recognising that humankind’s future will be far different than was imagined even as recently as 10 or 20 years ago. The lives we live in 2023 are unimaginably different than those lived even 30 years ago.

Can you imagine a world without your smartphone? The first smartphone was the IBM Simon, dating back to 1994. It was an analogue cellular phone but had email, calendar and fax functions. The touch screen user interface even included predictive text. Not a pocket phone by any means. The “smartphone” Wikipedia page, Smartphone makes very interesting reading.

The first iPhone was launched as recently as 2007 – barely 15 years ago!

My point is that society and technology are now changing faster than ever before. The added element of climate change is one factor driving change: Homo Sapien’s ability to adapt and create solutions is also a driver of change. So, 2023, onwards and upwards. Have a good one.

Food New Zealand 4 EDITORIAL
Anne Scott FNZIFST, Editor


Newsbites is Food New Zealand’s pick of the news stories about NZIFST members, about companies with relationships with NZIFST plus items that catch our interest.

Healthy vegan diets, costed

Authors: Dr Michael C. Morris, Royal Agricultural University, Auckland, Dr John H. Livesey, Independent Scientist, Christchurch, Roger J.H. Welsh, Independent Researcher, Christchurch

A study published last year by Bruce Kidd and others from the University of Auckland (1) concludes that healthy vegan diets are more expensive than the current omnivorous diet practiced in New Zealand. The authors state that there must be a trade off in terms of expense versus health and environmental effects.

The authors provide no costing from externalities, such as the higher health and environmental clean-up costs of the current diet (2). However, even under their own terms, the cost to the consumer for a healthy whole-foods plant-based diet as advocated by the EAT Lancet recommendations (3) is actually cheaper than the current omnivorous New Zealand diet.

In 2020 we conducted a survey of animal-based and plant-based protein foods in Auckland and Christchurch, New Zealand's two biggest cities, which was published in this journal (4). We checked prices in supermarkets and Asian food stores and we calculated cost per gram of digestible protein. Our findings were that the cheapest six sources of protein in Auckland were plant-based. The relative paucity of Asian stores in Christchurch meant that plant protein sources were slightly more expensive, but food such as red lentils and oats were still cheaper than animal products.

This survey was conducted before the price rises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. An updated survey in Christchurch during 2022 revealed that although all prices had gone up, red lentils were the cheapest form of protein at NZD0.75 per 100g protein, and the cheapest 5 protein sources were plant based.

Of course, if one substitutes meat products with highly processed plant-based processed burgers as in the scenario proposed by Kidd (1), then the cost of protein goes up, but this is not a realistic scenario for health-conscious vegans on a budget.

Kidd also assumed that vegans would substitute plant-based dairy substitutes for dairy milk, another questionable choice. There are several cultures, including the very long lived Japanese, who traditionally use few dairy products. It is not necessary to include these (expensive) dairy substitutes (3) – especially almond milk, which is pretty much nutritionally useless.

We congratulate Bruce Kidd’s team (1) for raising awareness of the need for a transformation of eating habits in Aotearoa, for reasons of personal, public and planetary health. If this is to be achieved, we need to put to rest the fallacy that eating a nutritious and tasty wholefoods plant-based diet is more expensive.


1.Kidd B, Mackay S, Vandevijvere S, et al. Cost and greenhouse gas emissions of current, healthy, flexitarian and vegan diets in Aotearoa (New Zealand). BMJ

Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2021;4:doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000262.

2.Drew J, Cleghorn C, Macmillan A, et al Healthy and climate-friendly eating patterns in the New Zealand context. Environmental Health Perspectives 2020;128:17007. doi:10.1289/EHP5996 pmid: pubmed/31967488.

3. Willett W, Rockström J, Loken B, et al Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Lancet 2019;393:447–92. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31788-4 pmid: /30660336

4. (Authors) Plant-based protein cost survey. Food New Zealand Oct/Nov 2020: 4244.

Research funding paves way for advanced milk products

Consumers will benefit from new research at the Riddet Institute in Palmerston North that hopes to improve the digestion properties of milk-based products.

The Riddet Institute has been awarded $476,000 by Fonterra Limited for a twoyear project looking at the particulars of nutrient digestion in cow and non-cow milk components, with an emphasis on new formulations for specific age groups.

The new project builds upon the Riddet Institute’s CoRE-funded work on the development and validation of in-vitro digestion simulator technology, and fundamental knowledge on milk digestion.

Project leader Dr Alejandra Acevedo-Fani says the project will investigate different milk protein-based formulations and research what happens in the stomach with the release of macronutrients and micronutrients. A gastric simulator machine that replicates the human digestive system will be used in the research.

“The information will help us learn about the importance of gastric structure on digestion,” Dr Acevedo-Fani says. “The project will generate new knowledge about the contribution milk components such as proteins and lipids have on digestion and nutrient absorption.”

She says this knowledge can then be used to design structurally advanced milk prototypes or formulations with superior nutritional outcomes to meet specific consumer needs. New milk products with enhanced digestibility are expected to follow.

It is expected the work will generate new knowledge and identify opportunities for delivering foods that will grow the New Zealand economy.

The industry-funded project has led to the creation of a new Postdoctoral Fellow position at the Riddet Institute to undertake research on dairy foods digestion. Dr Faith Bernadette Descallar joined the team in September.

February / March 2023 5 Newsbites
Project Leader, Dr Alejandra Acevedo-Fani

Industry faces UPF challenge – and a ‘real food’ opportunity

Consumers’ expectations that convenient, packaged foods should be simpler and less processed are set to become more important over the rest of this decade, predicts food industry expert Julian Mellentin. He says there’s growing evidence that consumers are increasingly shunning ultra-processed foods (UPFs) and looking for more ‘real foods’. In a recent survey of consumers1 by New Nutrition Business, of which Mellentin is director, 20% of Americans and 40% of Spanish consumers said they were trying to avoid UPFs2, the highest numbers since the consultancy began asking this question.

“The growing consumer interest in ‘less processed’ has grown out of the clean label trend of identifying something undesirable in our food and avoiding it,” says Mellentin. “What’s different is that we are entering a new phase. Brands will have to do more to reinvent “ultraprocessed foods” and to deliver products that get closer to consumers’ expectations of ‘real food’.”

Avoiding UPFs means, to a growing number of consumers, choosing fresh and natural foods. When the International Food Information Council (IFIC) asked Americans about the most common attributes of a healthy food, the top answer, given by 37% of people, was ‘fresh’, while 20% of consumers said ‘minimal or no processing’3.

“The opportunity over the next 3-5 years is for packaged food companies – gradually, step-by-step – to renovate products,” says Mellentin. “That will require a focus on ingredients and processing technologies which deliver the safety, convenience and palatability people seek while doing so with as little processing as possible – or at least with a type of processing that people accept.”

Companies do not need to renovate their entire product line, says Mellentin: “A significant percentage of mainstream consumers want to continue enjoying their favourite foods just as they are. The result may be that companies will have some products within their portfolio that meet consumer expectations for less processed and real food –just as today they have free-from or gluten-free lines in their portfolio.”

In his recent report, 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2023 4, Mellentin notes that there are many companies for whom ‘simply processed’ and ‘real’ are already part of strategy:

Technology has an important role to perform in enabling packaged products to deliver on consumer expectations. US-based plant milk marketer Elmhurst has developed a technology called HydroRelease, which enables it to create a two-ingredient, nutritionally-dense plant milk which delivers on consumer expectations of simple processing and few ingredients, in marked contrast to most plant milks on the market.

References and notes to text

1. New Nutrition Business 5-country Survey 2022. Available January 2023.

2. There is no one agreed definition of UPF and no scientific, legal or regulatory definition. However, university researchers and the media mostly use a definition of UPF which originated with researchers at Sao Paolo University in Brazil. They created the NOVA system, which classifies foods into four categories. The UPF category is used to describe foods:

a. “With little to no whole foods”

b. “Use many ingredients including food additives that improve palatability, processed raw materials and ingredients that are not used in home kitchens such as protein isolate, flavours, colours, emulsifiers...”

c. “Processing involves multiple steps – examples: packaged snacks, cookies, ready-to-eat meals, candy, soft drinks.”

“Real food”, on the other hand, is defined in the minds of consumers, not by university researchers or regulation. Broadly it means fewer ingredients, simpler ingredients, less processed.

3. International Food Information Council (IFIC), 2022 Food & Health Survey.

4. 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2023 is available here:


“There is also a very high level of engagement with a broad range of stakeholders across New Zealand and internationally which is ensuring their results are being used for policy design and monitoring.”

The team - led by senior scientists Cecile de Klein, Tony van der Weerden, Jiafa Luo, Stefan Muetzel and Arjan Jonker - has been able to show through its work that estimates of nitrous oxide and methane emissions should be significantly adjusted, compared to previous calculations using former standard methods from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

With support of partners, the AgResearch scientists guided the development of what is known as country-specific “emission factors” to improve the accuracy of calculating New Zealand’s agricultural greenhouse gas emissions estimates. Emission factors relate the quantity of an emitted greenhouse gas to a specific activity, such as fertiliser application.

This is critical for New Zealand given methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture make up approximately half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared to about only 10% in other developed countries. The IPCC prepared guidelines in 2006 for assessing national greenhouse gas emissions, however many of the IPCC’s default values were based on Northern Hemisphere research, where farming systems are different to those in New Zealand. The NZ-specific emission factors developed by the team were incorporated into the Ministry for Primary Industries’ national agricultural inventory, which is now considered one of the best in the world. And with every new update, the accuracy of the estimates has been improved by the research from the team.

“It is fantastic to have the work of the team recognised like this,” says AgResearch senior scientist Tony van der Weerden. “But the biggest thrill of all for us is knowing that the research is making a real difference for New Zealand. We all know the challenge of climate change, and that agriculture is New Zealand’s single biggest contributor, so we all need to act. By better understanding the challenge and the extent of these greenhouse gases, we can not only better understand how we are tracking as a country, but also what tools and approaches could be most effective in reducing emissions.”

“This award is truly the result of a team effort from people across AgResearch, supported by our collaborators at Manaaki Whenua –Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research, Lincoln University, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and the Ministry for Primary Industries.”

This is the second consecutive year that AgResearch has won the Supreme Award in the Science New Zealand Awards. Last year AgResearch’s low methane sheep breeding team won the award. The full list of Science New Zealand Award winners for 2022 can be found at: awards-2022/

The winning team: Stefan Muetzel, Tony van der Weerden, Cecile de Klein, Jiafa Luo and Arjan Jonker

Overview: Laboratory instruments, equipment and consumables

Food New Zealand's annual roundup of new products for laboratories working in the food space – from QC labs on site, to product testing for reformulation and compliance, to testing for process management and within research facilities

Alphatech Systems

Alphatech Systems, 100% New Zealand owned and operated, is now celebrating 40 years in the food science community.

Testing of chemicals is essential to understanding their fate and potential environmental impact.

Alphatech brings you quality brands:

• Biochrom/WPA’s range of Libra Scanning UV/Vis spectros, including double beam and variable bandwidth.

• Cooper-Atkins’ thermometry, including their outstanding meters and probe/sensor customisations for use in the food and beverage sectors.

• Eutech Instruments’ renowned food and water analysis instruments including pH/mV/Ion-specific, temperature, conductivity/resistivity/TDS and salinity, DO, turbidity and colorimeter meters.

• Horiba’s high-quality equipment for water and food testing. They will also create applications to use these meters with your sample (pH, ORP, EC, TDS, DO).

• Human Corporation’s laboratory and high-capacity RO water systems, from Type 1 Ultra-Pure to high capacity RO systems for research, general lab and industrial applications.

• Laboratoires Dujardin-Salleron’s traditional range of wine analysis apparatus including ebulliometers, sulfilysers, hydrometers and titrators.

• Multisensor Systems’ water and air analysers specialising in hydrocarbon analysis, oil-in-water detection, THM and ammonia analysis, for use in protecting potable and wastewater.

• Optika’s specialty instruments for refractometry, sugar purity, optical rotation, and polarimetry.

• Pratt Safety’s UN-certified DG cabinets from 30L-425L. The range covers Classes 3, flammable liquids, 4, flammable solids, 5, oxidizing agents, 5.1, organic peroxides, 6, toxic substances, and 8, corrosives.

• Precisa’s Balances with capacity/resolutions ranging from 125g (0.01mg) to 12.2kg (0.1g). The range extends to industrial scales, moisture balances and automatic ashing. The new 390

and 520 Series Balances with Tablet Style Touch Screens are so intuitive you hardly need a manual!

• VICAM offers a complete line of qualitative and quantitative rapid diagnostic test kits, strips, and instruments for testing mycotoxins in food, feed, and grain products.

….and also, talk to us for Waters Corporation chromatographic solutions (HPLC, mass spectrometry, HPLC columns, vials, filters, etc), and OnQ LIMS solutions. Web:

Food New Zealand 8
Laboratory Suppliers
The Precisa 390 Series Balance

ATA Scientific

Easy-to-use tools to optimise additives and their interaction with food products.

The Phenom Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) is an essential tool used to study the relationship between food processing conditions and morphological changes in food components, given the structure of foods can influence nutritional value.

The new Phenom XL G2 desktop SEM is easy-to-use and offers superfast imaging with fully integrated X-ray analysis to enable both food structures to be examined and their elemental composition determined. With the fastest time to image (less than 40 sec from sample loading) up to 200,000 times magnification and <10nm resolution, the Phenom SEM is an essential tool for any laboratory.

New automation solutions for quality control (QC) replace manual, repetitive tasks, allowing a high volume of samples to be quickly processed. Particles, pores, fibres or large SEM images up to 100 by 100 millimetres can be characterised and foreign contaminants identified and evaluated for chemical composition.

The Malvern Mastersizer particle size analyser is used to determine particle size and size distribution for foods and additives. Particle size defines mouth feel and is important for controlling manufacturing costs.

The Mastersizer 3000 is the premier instrument for performance and software user experience. With a dynamic range spanning 0.01 to 3500 microns, the Mastersizer 3000 delivers precise, robust, wet and dry particle size measurements tailored to the operator’s application needs.

The Malvern Zetasizer Ultra is used for the measurement of particle and molecular size, particle charge and particle concentration. Determine optimal concentrations of food additives for desired taste and smell performance or improve emulsion stabilisation of flavourings.

The new Zetasizer Ultra delivers enhanced speed and ease of use, accelerating sample throughput. Multi-Angle Dynamic Light Scattering (MADLS) technology provides higher resolution and calibration-free particle concentration analysis to enable even greater insight into your samples.

For further details contact ATA Scientific Pty Ltd.

John Morris Group

Food, feed and beverage solutions.

We supply, install and service quality scientific and specialised equipment from trusted brands, helping you discover solutions and achieve reliable results.

• CEM provides new technologies that transform how compositional food testing is carried out for fat (Oracle), protein (Sprint), moisture (Smart) and ash (Phoenix). Simple rapid and direct methods that eliminate extensive calibration and replace outdated wet chemistry techniques. CEM pioneered microwave chemistry and have microwave instruments (MARS) to acid-digest samples for elemental analysis.

• Fritsch instruments have been used for decades worldwide for sample preparation and particle sizing in industry and research laboratories. Fritsch offer laboratory tools for cutting, milling, sieving and sizing solid materials.

• Ankom are helping to feed the world with their dietary fibre, solvent fat extractors, vitamin and cholesterol analyte extractors. Ankom’s crude fibre analyser studies the digestibility of feed, and gas production monitoring modules measure the degradation and fermentation kinetics of soluble and insoluble factions of feed or food.

• Bruker’s solutions optimise food quality and food safety throughout the whole supply chain from field to fork. FoodScreener tests honey, wine and juice for origin authenticity, species purity and fraud. The MiniSpec determines total fat and droplet size of dairy products like margarine or mayonnaise and analyses oil and moisture in seeds and nuts with no sample preparation, independent of sample texture or colour.

• The YSI 2900 makes it practical to measure glucose, sucrose, lactose, ethanol and many more analytes, compared to traditional methods such as HPLC and GC/MS. Results are obtained in about one-minute with little or no sample preparation making the YSI 2900 ideal for process monitoring.

• Atago manufactures hand-held refractometers used in analysis of fruit, salt, brix, coffee and acidity.

Contact John Morris Group via our website or LinkedIn and let us help you succeed with technology.

February / March 2023 9 Laboratory Suppliers

Leaders United in Food Safety: 3M and Neogen Merge

Neogen Australasia, a subsidiary of Neogen Corporation, based in Queensland, is leading the way in food safety solutions for businesses in the food processing, animal protein and agriculture industries.

Recently, Neogen Corporation completed a merger with 3M’s Food Safety business, creating a comprehensive product portfolio, and an enhanced global footprint. This has allowed Neogen to expand its presence in allergen, indicator testing and pathogen detection areas, complementing its existing microbiology lines.

Neogen Australasia has a strong presence in the region and offers a wide range of solutions for the food processing, animal protein and agriculture industries. The company has long-standing relationships with these industries and serves the Australian and New Zealand markets through both distributors and directly.

Our Food Safety product range includes solutions for the Agribusiness sector such as rapid diagnostic kits to detect foodborne bacteria, food allergens, and hygiene indicators. Additionally, our food quality

range, which was expanded through the acquisition of Megazyme, includes high-quality assay kits and enzyme substrate products for use in analytical and research laboratories.

Neogen Australasia also offers solutions in animal safety and genomics. The company’s animal safety range includes biosecurity products, pest control solutions and more. The genomics division is the region’s largest genomic testing facility in Queensland, offering advanced comprehensive genomic testing solutions including sequencing, for livestock, companion animals and plants and even humans.

At Neogen Australasia, we closely with you to create custom packages that suit your needs, creating more value for your business. With a strong presence in New Zealand, Neogen Australasia is dedicated to ensuring that its products and services meet the specific needs of the market and can be reached directly or through their distributor partners.


Founded in 1943 by engineer Bertold Suhner in Herisau, Switzerland, Metrohm is one of the world’s most trusted manufacturers of high-precision instruments for chemical analysis. Metrohm ANZ offers a full portfolio of analytical instrumentation and services. Metrohm’s solutions comprise methods and instrumentation for modern titration, ion chromatography, pH and conductivity measurement, NIR and Raman spectroscopy, spectroscopy, material testing, research instruments and more. The company is also the exclusive distributor for Retsch and Retsch Technology solutions such as milling, sieving, assisting and dynamic image analysis. Food quality and enology solutions (reagents and analysers) from BioSystems S.A. are also provided and supported exclusively in the region.

Metrohm ANZ is present in all major cities with offices and application laboratories across Australia (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, and WA) and New Zealand (Auckland and Christchurch).

Food New Zealand 10
Laboratory Suppliers

Onelab: Results Matter

Onelab offers a range of products for food manufacturers, from the laboratory through to process optimisation and finished product testing.

Onelab’s market position is to support the New Zealand market with high quality products that are imperative to your success.

Key to our food testing product range is R-Biopharm. R-Biopharm’s speciality is competence in food and feed analysis, offering innovative products and user-friendly solutions for the analysis of allergens, mycotoxins, microbiological contaminants and more. Technologies include Lateral flow, ELISA, Enzymatic, purification columns and Real-Time PCR.

Key products in our wide range include:

• R-Biopharm – Allergens, mycotoxins, microbiological contaminants, constituents, GMO’s, vitamins

• BUCHI – Kjeldahl, NIR, Evaporation, Freeze Dryers, Fat Extraction etc

• Mettler Toledo laboratory range – balances, electrochemistry, spectrophotometers, titrators, density, refractometers etc

• Gerber Instruments – dairy testing equipment

• NEW! Nasco : Whirl Pak sample bags

• NEW! Masterflex – pumps and tubing

• NEW! Air Samplers and accessories

• Integra – Media Preparators, plate pourers, dispensing pumps, vacuum aspirators

• Omni International – homogenisers and bead mills

• SSI Bio and Technoplas – Plastic laboratory consumables

• Brand – consumables including volumetric glass, digital burettes, bottle top dispensers

• IKA – mixing, shaking, stirring, viscometers, ovens etc

• Grant Instruments – water baths, bench top equipment, dataloggers etc

MiTech for Witt Gas analysers

Witt gas analysers are fast, precise and multifunctional. They can be used as stationary or portable units for sample or continuous gas analysis for many applications in fruit and vegetable production. Intuitive and easy handling of Witt gas analysers is provided by intelligent operating controls. Stateof-the-art sensors and intelligent software solutions guarantee accurate measurement results and secure the quality of your processes. To suit your applications, the gas analysers can be delivered as stand-alone units or integrated in gas mixing systems. Retain control when using carbon dioxide in your storage, control the ripeness of your fruit using ethylene and ensure the quality of your products by sample testing of your modified atmosphere packages with WITT gas analysers. More information at

• Labconco – Class II and Laminar Flow hoods, dry block evaporators, vacuum concentrators

• Interscience – blenders, diluters, pourers, colony counters, dispensing pumps etc

• Milestone – Sample prep for metal analysis, mercury, fat extraction, fragrances and flavours

• Seal Analytical – discrete and segmented flow analysers, robotic sample prep automation – food and beverage analysers

• Hettich – centrifuges and incubators

• Cole-Parmer – everything laboratory!

• Rainin – liquid handling – pipettors, tips

• Tecan and Tecan Genomics – liquid handling and NGS Library prep kits and automation

• Service – Onelab Service all brands we sell – Nationwide!

Onelab believe Results Matter. Contact us for your Laboratory requirements.

Laboratory Suppliers

Laboratory Suppliers

• Priorclave: Wide range of autoclaves for all your sterilisation needs.

• Hamilton Company: Sensors for process analytics in the food and beverage industries. Their optical DO and pH process sensors offer lower operating costs, tighter process control; seamless calibration, troubleshooting and connectivity; quick recovery from SIP, CIP or autoclaving.

• Esco: Ovens and incubators from 32L to 240L as well as a wide range of Laminar Airflow Cabinets in either horizontal or vertical airflow formats providing ULPA filtered clean air.

• BioEcho Life Sciences- nucleic acid extraction solutions for animal breeding and veterinary research that are simple, scalable, affordable, and for a wide range of animal species and sample types.


Multiple solutions for the New Zealand food and dairy industry.

• Jasco – FTIR Application in Food Analysis; FT/IR-4X for maintenance-free design – self-diagnosis function, base isolation structure, optional detectors. For component analysis of dairy product and identification testing of food additives.

• Rad Source – Rad Source’s patented Quastar® Photonic Decontamination technology provides the cannabis industry with the only technology to safely inactivate mould, powdery mildew, Aspergillus, BTGN, yeast, Salmonella, E. coli, Coliforms and other challenging microbes. The roomtemperature process maintains flower integrity with nominal to no effect on terpenes, potency or moisture.

• Molecular Devices: Absorbance microplate readers to streamline your beer, wine and food safety analyses using industry-standard approved methods. Including: Gluten level testing, yeast metabolism, colour and bitterness (IBU's); L-Malic acid and phenolic compounds and Endotoxin testing and melamine detection in GLP/GMP environments.

• Hamilton Robotics – Hamilton® foodInspect™ NIMBUS® for superior precision, accuracy, and reproducibility. A powerful, personalised automation solution for quality pipetting.

• PHCbi – temperature-controlled incubators, designed for precision and accuracy to facilitate the stringent demands of perishable food quality testing.

• IKA – IKA mixing techniques give products exclusive organoleptic qualities and an especially appetising appearance. IKA has extensive expertise in the diverse mixing processes used in the food industry.

• Ohaus – a wide range of high-performance instruments, including balances/scales, benchtop/portable pH meters, shakers, and moisture analysers designed to deliver in harsh packaging, processing, or laboratory environments.

• Miele Professional: Under-bench and stand-alone laboratory washers/disinfectors with a large range of accessories for both wide neck and narrow neck glassware. Available in passive drying or active HEPA filtered drying models.

In addition, Bio-Strategy offer a wide range of quality consumables.


LabwareHouse has been supplying laboratory equipment for more than 15 years to all sectors throughout New Zealand: Industrial, dairy, food, education and individuals. Glassware is available in certified options where accuracy is vital and economy options for budget conscious schools and industrial labs. There is also a wide variety of plastic labware and measuring equipment available to ensure the testing and production of all your products goes smoothly.

We import and stock a range of quality products, ready to ship within 24 hours. This ensures you receive your purchases promptly, often overnight.

With over 2000 products in stock LabwareHouse can supply all your laboratory basics and consumables including:

Beakers Measuring cylinders Flasks Pipettes and tips

Balances, scales and centrifuges by Ohaus

Filtration and testing papers

Thermometers Porcelain basins, crucibles and funnels

Test tubes Forceps Spoons and spatulas pH meters

If you need one or one hundred, we can help keep you supplied and we offer discounts for bulk orders.

As a proudly 100% New Zealand owned company, our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint, by recycling, and importing by sea where possible. We give back to our community by supporting Science based events and contributing to conservation projects.

Our comprehensive website makes selecting and purchasing your items straightforward and the friendly and helpful people at LabwareHouse are waiting to assist you with all your queries and purchases.

Ngaio Diagnostics

Ngaio Diagnostics is an established, New Zealand- owned supply company specialising in market leading hygiene, microbiology, allergen, food and drink testing solutions, plus general laboratory products. Our vast range of products allows us to offer complete solutions to fulfil every customer need.

Our range includes, but is not limited to:

• Hygiena ATP systems – the gold standard solution for ATP testing, with added capabilities for same-day microbiology testing, pasteurisation verification, water testing and cooking efficiency testing (raw meat).

• CertaBlue – real-time microbiology testing, ready-to-use vials and simplified testing procedures.

• MicroFast – a full range of affordable and easy-to-use sheet media.

• Hygiena BAX – a leading molecular system, providing rapid and reproducible results.

Food Tech Solutions A Focus to Food Safety!

Food Tech Solutions is a niche supplier of quality testing solutions to the New Zealand food and dairy industry. Our long history of working closely with leading milk processors has helped position New Zealand as a global leader in the dairy industry,

Since 1998 we have fulfilled demands within the food industry for a superb source of products contributing to Food Safety and quality programmes monitoring manufacturing cleanliness, ensuring our food industry produces only quality products with a maximum shelflife, whilst minimising recalls!

Our Product Range Includes:

• Air Monitoring – Bacterial air monitoring instrumentation –TRIO.BAS™

• Product Sterility Testing (EPIC) – UHT, ESL (soft dairy, personal care) – Charm Sciences.

• ATP Detection Systems – Superior science for advanced hygiene control – Charm Sciences.

• Texture Analysis – Food profiling and packaging testing –Stable Micro Systems.

• Enzymatic Test kits and Enzymes – Wine, beverage, food and research – Megazyme.

• Instruments – Automation – Rapid wine component analysis –Awareness Technology Inc.

• Allergens – Wide range of ELISA and rapid tests for testing food and environments.

• Pasteurisation Confirmation – Milk (cow, goat, sheep), soft cheeses – Charm Sciences.

• Rapid Antibiotic Residue Testing – Raw milk and other food matrices – Charm Sciences.

We work closely with our clients, delivering solutions, ongoing relevant training, providing rapid essential technical support, loan instruments, educational seminars, focus groups, and regular instrument demonstrations.

• Allergen kits – for all requirements, lateral flow tests and ELISA kits.

• Microbium MPN Analyser – automated detection and quantification of E. coli and coliform bacteria in water.

• Solus Pathogen Detection System – one day Listeria and Salmonella testing, offering cost, time and performance benefits over molecular systems.

Ngaio also assists with specialised systems for constituent, mycotoxin, dairy, industrial contaminant, pesticide, toxin and drug analysis.

Proud to supply top customer service, trusted solutions and great pricing to all customers.

Contact Ngaio ( with any enquires or technical assistance.

Please Contact: Jo Kelly-Tuckey, General Manager, for inquiries. Tell us how we can facilitate making the most out of your quality control!

February / March 2023 13 Laboratory Suppliers

Merck RQflex® 20: Testing on the go at Mataura Valley Milk

For food and beverage production facilities, a reliable, precise system to perform critical analyses at any stage of the production process, directly on-site, is invaluable. That’s where the RQflex® 20 comes in.

Strip – Dip – Read – Record – Action

Designed by Merck, the RQflex® 20 provides an inexpensive, mobile laboratory for performing analyses of chemical parameters in water, food & beverage samples, and environmental samples in the laboratory, on the production line or in the field.

The RQflex® 20 reflectometer combines the simplicity of test strips and test kits with the accuracy of mobile on-site instrumental analysis—for more than 20 parameters in various fields of application. Examples include rapid quantitative detection of hydroxymethylfurfural in honey, testing Vitamin C in food & beverages, monitoring acrylamide formation, analysing chemical disinfectant parameters after disinfection of production lines, and more.

The full range consists of test strips, reflectometer, and accessories, combining ease-of-use with the accuracy of instrumental analysis.

Creating tomorrow’s nutrition with Mataura Valley Milk

Mataura Valley Milk sources milk from one of the finest grassproducing regions in the world – Southland, New Zealand – to produce exceptional nutrition for a growing world.

For Mataura Valley Milk, it’s all about quality, reliability, and expertise

– with milk sourced from a select group of suppliers, processed in the most up-to-date nutritional plant in the world, and used by well-known international brands in the manufacture of nutritional products.

RQflex® 20 in action – CIP cycles

As a food, dairy, or beverage processor, the importance of maintaining a hygienic process environment with a robust Clean-in-Place (CIP) system is vital. Mataura, like many dairy production plants, uses an acid wash cycle on process equipment and tankers used for milk collection.

CIP Acid is a low foaming heavy duty acid-based cleaning fluid that is particularly suited for dissolving mineral scale from hard water deposits and protein residue build up from stainless steel surfaces. Nitric acid is the most commonly utilised wash for scale removal and pH stabilisation after a caustic wash.

The RQflex® 20 is used after the rinse step of the CIP cycle, with rinse water samples tested to determine if nitric acid residue has been flushed from the plant equipment. On the Reflectoquant® nitrate test strip, nitrate ions are reduced to nitrite ions by a reducing agent. In the presence of an acidic buffer, these nitrite ions react with an aromatic amine to form a diazonium salt, which in turn reacts with N-(1naphthyl)-ethylene-diamine to form a red-violet azo dye that is determined reflectometrically on the RQflex. Quick, easy, and precise!

Lab Supply – supporting science and discovery across Aotearoa

Lab Supply is a privately held, family-owned and operated distributor of scientific equipment and consumables, with offices and warehouses in Dunedin and Auckland. Established in 2010, the company is known for its personalised approach and commitment to quality, integrity, and service.

Their expansive product range is sourced from over 75 global brands, like Eppendorf, Memmert, Greiner Bio-One and Technoplas, with more than 5000 SKUs available for customers to order from. Lab Supply is also an authorised distributor for the Merck and Sigma range of products, giving customers access to industry-leading laboratory products.

Food New Zealand 14 Case Study
Mataura Valley Lab Technician tests rinse water samples RQflex® 20 in action: Strip – Dip – Read – Record – Action

Lab Supply

Supporting science and discovery across Aotearoa

Who we are

We are a family-owned and operated New Zealand laboratory distribution company, with offices and warehouses in Dunedin and Auckland.

We work behind the scenes, enabling scientists across New Zealand to take their work the extra mile, helping translate it into tangible benefits for society. We support our food and beverage customers with the right solutions to help grow their production capacity and lead the way in food safety and quality.

We partner with over 75 global brands, including Eppendorf, Memmert, Greiner Bio-One, Technoplas, GVS Filtration, and Ahlstrom (Munktell), to bring you industry-leading scientific tech.

We have also recently announced an enhanced partnership with Merck, to increase coverage in the F&B market and offer customers better access to the Merck and Sigma product range.

What we do

We supply what the F&B industry needs to successfully innovate, process, and manufacture their products. Our portfolio includes a range of products for media and sample preparation, rapid chemical

testing, bioburden and pathogen testing, environmental monitoring, analytical technologies, product testing, and more.

We also support what we sell with in-house servicing, calibration, and repair capabilities for a wide range of laboratory equipment, including liquid handling instruments.

With our expertise in the setup of labs, we can install your equipment, ensure it works within the necessary parameters, and upskill staff on usage.

Why partner with us

We understand the importance of accuracy and rigour and are committed to helping you maintain the integrity of your work through:

• Supplying reliable and best-in-class products.

• Knowledgeable, responsive customer service and infield support.

• Online customer portal and 24/7 ordering capability.

• Maintaining optimum stock levels of our most popular products for quick delivery.

We are a supplier of choice for the scientific community across New Zealand and look forward to being of service to you. Talk to our team today!

Laboratory Suppliers

NZMS Scientific

Rapid tests for ensuring food quality help producers to stay agile in a changing world.

The world has changed in the 40 years since Richard Plowright founded New Zealand Medical and Scientific (NZMS) from his home in Auckland. But some things never change.

“We pride ourselves on the expertise of our staff…That’s always had a lot of emphasis, so the expertise can then be provided in the marketplace” says Richard.

Despite rising costs and shifting economic conditions, New Zealand’s food manufacturers continue to maintain high standards for food safety. The friendly team of microbiologists at NZMS Scientific are here to support producers with finding the right products to stay nimble without sacrificing quality.

According to Stephanie Lavill, the Division manager at NZMS Scientific, “We’ve hand-picked testing solutions utilising innovative methods that are intuitive to use and produce faster, more accurate, actionable results. In this current environment, businesses cannot afford to be waiting 7 days for results from traditional testing methods.”

Mätt Solutions

Proper process control could double your profits

It’s estimated that improper measurement, lack of control during production and a “guess and check” attitude, costs some businesses as much as 43% of their annual profit. Proper control of inputs and monitoring of the process can save the expense of “reworks”, dramatically reduce wasted product, get you closer to quality control checkpoints and save everybody a lot of time. They key to this success and increased profitability, is measurement at line. By having a quality metric for each input or stage of production and then measuring and ensuring that metric is met you can have confidence in the final product. At the same time, you will be able to address problems in a more timely manner –fixing out of spec readings before the next stage of production.

Bob Olayo, manager at Mätt Solutions, specialists in food quality measurement tools, notes, “If you’re not measuring it then you

NZMS Scientific offers a range of products to support all facets of in-house testing, giving local manufacturers a clearer picture of the issues affecting their products; detecting problems earlier and responding faster.

“Our favourite is the MVP Icon,” says Stephanie. “It’s a smart system keeping records of ATP and HACCP parameters so it’s all in one place – it’s a really simple way to track cleanliness.”

Pathogen and hygiene testing

Regular monitoring of the final product and the facility environment can help ensure a high standard of food safety. A range of products are available for rapidly detecting foodborne pathogens, spoilage organisms, and environmental hygiene monitoring.

Allergen detection

When food is around, the risk of cross-contamination of food allergens abounds. Romer Labs’ AgraStrip tests provide instant results for action, while AgraQuant can detect more sensitive trace allergens in less than 2 hours. While it takes an hour to incubate, by utilising the modern ELISA method, the results are highly sensitive and accurate.

can’t control it. The way to avoid unwelcome surprises is by testing and checking at each stage of the process”.

Specialists in the field, Mätt Solutions have a wide array of testing solutions available that can help monitor and manage the production process. This includes robust, at line tools for use by production line managers and highly accurate lab-grade instruments for final product verification and release, which can include 21 CFR part 11 and GMP compliance.

If you are looking for measurement solution that is proving challenging or uncommon, Mätt Solutions may be able to help, they have been in the industry for more than 20 years and have built a valuable store of knowledge on how to achieve usable results, even with the most challenging of measurements. For the more common of solutions, such as brix, salinity, pH, water activity, gas analysis, DO, EC, fat, protein, moisture, viscosity and more, you should also call Mätt Solutions, the team will listen to you and tailor a solution to your specific needs.

Food New Zealand 16
Laboratory Suppliers
RomerLabs | AgraStrip Rapid Allergen Test Kits Merck | MVP Icon ATP & HACCP Management Dimanco | Dipslide Rapid Bacterial Test Kits Nissui | Compact Dry Rapid Bacterial Tests Kits

News from the Australian Institute of Packaging

2022 AIP Career & Salary Report now available

For the second consecutive year the AIP has released the key findings from the 2022 Career & Salary Survey for the Food & Beverage industries.

According to AIP Executive Director, Nerida Kelton MAIP, the AIP 2022 Career & Salary Survey report was developed in partnership with the IoPP, to provide a more detailed breakdown of the people who make up the industry, including their roles, education, experience, career satisfaction, concerns and salaries. The survey covers Australia and New Zealand and also all roles within the industries. The Australia and New Zealand report aligns with the same offering developed by the IoPP for the rest of the world.

“The 2022 Career & Salary report has some interesting findings and certainly highlights one of the key challenges that the industry has right now which is upskilling industry professionals in the science and technical side of all materials and pack formats,” Mrs Kelton said.

AIP Education Director, Prof. Pierre Pienaar FAIP, CPP added, “The Report provides a summary of salary levels for packaging technologists, but also gives a general indication of the qualifications of those who are currently working in the packaging industry. The data indicates that although well qualified, i.e., post graduate degrees, they may not be qualified in the science, engineering and/or technology of packaging.”

“We need to see more of those working in the packaging industry, undertaking courses such as the Certificate in Packaging Technology, Diploma in Packaging Technology, the Fundamentals of Packaging Technology and the Master of Food & Packaging Innovation degree. Attaining these qualifications will go a long way towards improving the overall knowledge and skillset in the industry and ensuring that the technical knowledge void is filled with suitably qualified people. We need more packaging professionals. Education helps us get exposure to new ideas and concepts that we can use to appreciate and improve the world around us, and the world within us,” Prof. Pienaar said.

Some of the key findings:


• 46% of the total respondents work in food

• 13% work in the beverage industry.

• 11% indicated that they work in packaging materials.

Job Function

30% of the total respondents indicated that they work in Packaging Technology/Design. This was followed by Marketing/Sales at 15.90% and 11.20% in Research & Development.

Qualifications of respondents working in packaging in Australia and NZ

What is your highest level of education?

46% of the total respondents have a Graduate Degree and 23% have an Undergraduate Degree. This is a continued indication that the industry is highly educated at degree level qualifications.

Do you have any of the following packaging-related degrees?

• 21% of the respondents have a Diploma in Packaging Technology.

• 10% have completed the Master of Food & Packaging Innovation.

• 9% have a Certificate in Packaging and 2% the Fundamentals of Packaging Technology.

This is a positive sign that more packaging professionals are coming to the AIP to further their education.


58% of the total respondents have more than 20 years’ experience in the packaging industry which is an indication of longevity in the industry and stable careers.

Satisfaction with Job Security

38% of the total respondents are very secure with their job, while 33% are ‘somewhat secure’.

The complete 2022 AIP Career & Salary Survey report is available to AIP Members and respondents of the survey.

An executive summary is available to the wider industry upon request. The next AIP Salary Survey will be made available to complete in early 2023 and the AIP encourages all of industry to complete the survey to strengthen the results.

February / March 2023 17 Packaging

Sliding on

Gloves don’t make you bulletproof

John Brooks' view of the food world through the lens of a microbiologist.

Have you noticed that now everyone uses disposable gloves for everything? Doctors, nurses, dentists, customs officers, microbiologists and, of course, food handlers are routinely gloved. Have you also observed the way that they are used?

Many years ago, when I first started teaching food microbiology, O.P Snyder used to write regularly about the hazards associated with handling food with bare hands or with gloves. He argued that the use of clean hands was less hazardous than unchanged gloves. The critical words here are “clean hands”. Indeed, New Zealand law does not require gloves to be worn but does require that certain food be prepared and served without bare-hand contact. Wearing disposable sanitary gloves is one of several acceptable ways to comply with this law.

Councils frequently receive complaints from customers that food workers handle food, then take money and operate cash registers or credit card scanners without changing gloves. Surprisingly, investigations have revealed that handling money is not the cause of illness.

A company that started out in New Zealand, but is now based in California, recently presented the findings of a 5-year study on the hazards of contamination in the disposable glove industry. If gloves are to be used to prevent cross-contamination of food by bare hands, then the gloves should be of high quality and not contribute to contamination. Unbelievably, FDA’s current standards for disposable gloves are insufficient because there is no requirement that they are clean or intact and inspection procedures are weak. The study found human faecal indicators on 50% of new and unused, off-theshelf gloves and other microbes, including Bacillus cereus, Bacillus anthracis, Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridiocles difficile, Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Streptococcus pneumoniae on the inside and outside of disposable gloves. These data show that the contamination occurred during manufacture and packaging.

Does the use of disposable gloves engender a false sense of safety?

Gloves become contaminated at the same rate as hands, but there may be a temptation not to change them, as hands don’t feel dirty. Crosscontamination between raw and cooked foods, therefore, becomes an obvious hazard. How often should gloves be changed and how should that be done? If we wear gloves for an hour, our hands become sweaty

and bacteria in the skin are likely to be shed. When we take off the gloves, do we wash our hands again? If not, then there is a strong chance of contaminating the outside of the new gloves. There is no doubt that cross-contamination can occur by manual handling of food. Some regulatory authorities require that food handlers wear gloves and do not permit contact between bare hands and ready-to-eat foods.

Gloves didn’t become common in restaurant kitchens in USA until the ‘90s, when a few high-profile E. coli outbreaks made food safety a major public concern. However, chefs don’t like wearing them and claim that they lose their feeling of contact with food such as sushi. Some also claim that gloves are hazardous while handling hot pans. Simple observations in kitchens and service areas show that chefs often use their fingers to assemble food: counter staff handle food while wearing gloves and then clean the counters before going back to handling food – without changing the gloves. A friend suggested that gloves will be changed between serving every customer in superior food service operations. I highly doubt that this is common practice and the food handler would be washing hands every few minutes. My wife observed a commercial caterer setting up a room for conference meals. One of the girls was setting out plates with her bare hands. She then returned to the room with plastic-wrapped bananas on a pile of plates. She was wearing one plastic glove and contrived to remove the plastic wrap from the bananas with the ungloved hand. She then carefully separated the individual bananas using her gloved hand. But people don't eat banana skins and anyway, how many hands touched the skins during harvesting and transport?

A study to assess the bacterial contamination of the hands of hospital food handlers found that although bacterial loads on gloved hand samples were significantly lower (p<0.05) than ungloved hand samples, these loads were still not within acceptable limits. High levels of S. aureus and E. coli were found on samples taken from bare and gloved hands (1).

Dirty gloves are just as dirty as dirty hands. Wearing gloves does not make you bulletproof. You have to keep your brain engaged when handling food.

Food New Zealand 18 Sliding On
1. Hasan Ayçiçek et al 2004. Assessment of the bacterial contamination on hands of hospital food handlers.

Summer of food safety

Presented by Vincent Arbuckle, Deputy Director General, New Zealand Food Safety

Our summer months are synonymous with getting outdoors and sharing good kai with whānau and friends. While we can’t control the sunshine, we can plan to have a safe and healthy summer of eating with a bit of vigilance in the kitchen and on the barbeque.

Foodborne illness is a risk year-round, but every summer, there is a rise in cases and hospitalisations from people getting sick from food. As the temperatures rise we cook and eat more outside, gather and consume more kai moana, and often prepare food for large groups at celebrations and get-togethers.

New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) wants Kiwis to have an enjoyable summer while helping them develop good habits that will carry over into other seasons.

That’s why we have invested in two key food safety campaigns running over the summer months. We have extended the reach of our messaging in an effort to prevent as many people as possible becoming ill or seriously ill (particularly in the case of those with underlying health conditions, pregnant and older people, and younger children).

We have focused on two leading causes of foodborne illness in the summer months: Vibrio and Campylobacter

Collecting shellfish? Cook it

Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vibrio) is a bacteria naturally living in the sea, and some strains can make people sick with gastroenteritis when consumed in raw or undercooked shellfish.

New Zealand has started to see more cases of illness from Vibrio, in recent years. In the most recent outbreak, there were 60 cases reported between November 2021 and May 2022, with the concerningly high hospitalisation rate of 42%. This is a notable increase in reported cases from previous years, with 24 cases reported earlier in 2021, 16 cases in 2020 and 23 cases in 2019.

The reason for the increase is unclear at this stage – it could be caused by environmental change, increased testing and reporting, or a combination of these and other factors – but it is clear that cooking shellfish kills the bacteria that makes people sick.

Our campaign educates people about the heightened risk and encourages them to thoroughly cook any shellfish they gather to make it safe for eating. The more people know how to collect, store, prepare and cook shellfish safely, the more they can look out for both themselves and others in their communities who may be more vulnerable.

To help spread this message, we worked with a community chef to develop easy, tasty recipes that make kai moana safe for eating, and we shared them on our website and social media. The recipes include a kina and watercress omelette and pan-fried pāua with kawakawa and lemon. While this campaign has an important message for anyone gathering shellfish, it was also developed to reach Māori and Pasifika communities specifically, as they traditionally gather and eat more kai moana. Focus groups in these communities were very helpful in informing the direction of our campaign.

With a simple tagline, “Collecting shellfish? Cook it”, NZFS hopes to minimise the number of cases of vibriosis this summer.

Chicken Scene Investigators are on the case

The most reported foodborne illness is campylobacteriosis, with our youngest and oldest having the highest rates of infection. The illness is caused by Campylobacter bacteria. While there are several ways to come in contact with the bacteria, the most common source of Campylobacter from food is raw or undercooked chicken.

There were 5729 confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis in 2021, with 846 people needing hospital treatment, up from 718 hospitalisations in 2020. And 2022 looked set to follow a similar trajectory, with more than 5300 cases nationally before the year had reached a close. NZFS is committed to reducing foodborne illness caused by Campylobacter. Our target is a reduction in rates by 20% by the end of 2024. That means a reduction from 88 to 70 cases per 100,000 population in just over two years.

In summer, case numbers go up, possibly due to a more relaxed food preparation and cooking atmosphere, which can lead to increased cross-contamination during food preparation and to chicken being undercooked.

To help spread the message of safe handling and cooking of chicken, we brought in the Chicken Scene Investigators. Our two detectives, created for our latest campaign, are reminding consumers to remain vigilant about food safety in the kitchen, using three common points of contamination (or scenes of the crime) when preparing raw chicken as examples: tongs, tea towels, and knife. The short, punchy videos and still images are light-hearted with a serious message, and we have so far seen rewarding engagement with higher-thanaverage viewership and interaction on social media. We have also shared important tips on safely storing, defrosting, preparing and barbequing chicken on our website.

Early data shows that this serious message, playfully delivered, is sticking with Kiwis, and we hope it will endure throughout the year. Join us in spreading the food safety word – you can find more information about vibriosis and campylobacteriosis, including our campaigns, on our website.

February / March 2023 19 Food Safety
The chicken-scene investigators in action

FSANZ and your food safety enquiries

Ben Sutherland, Principal Food Technologist | Standards & Surveillance, FSANZ

Ever wondered where your food safety enquiry to FSANZ ends up? The answer is with a living, breathing human being. We have a dedicated guru – Peter “Kegs” Keegan who has over 20 years’ experience in Code related matters and has assisted thousands of food business to adhere to and understand Code requirements. In addition to Kegs, there’s a network of experts within FSANZ who deal with enquiries on all sorts of food related issues – from cell-based meat one day to Methyl acrylate-divinylbenzene-diethylene glycol divinyl, aminolysed with dimethaminopropylamine and quaternised with methyl chloride the next!

We refer many of our enquirers to our website, which houses over 3000 pages of information relating to food and food safety. But we do occasionally get enquiries which need extra consideration and a more fulsome response!

A recent enquiry to FSANZ asked how a particular Health Star Rating (HSR) is possible on a product that contains an ingredient “banned” in other countries, with a suggestion money must have changed hands. If we break this down, the ingredient in question is a food colour assessed as being safe by The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, so this poses no real risk to consumers. Our regulation is mature, risk based and independent from other countries and although we have regard to overseas regulators’ views, we maintain our independence. The algorithm that calculates the HSR provides transparency and was developed in collaboration with technical and nutrition experts from government (including FSANZ), industry, public health and consumer organisations. Interestingly enough, the algorithm doesn’t consider colours in its calculation, so the ingredient could not contribute to the HSR. And to my knowledge the food industry doesn’t pay anyone off to secure a higher HSR!

The old saying “the customer is always right” remains a guiding principle. However with enquiries like these, we are able to provide additional information and guidance to our valued stakeholders. We can also provide suggested reading material and reinforce our commitment to developing and maintaining world-leading food standards. Part of our role, in addition to ensuring the food supply is safe and suitable, is to make sure information is provided so that the consumer is not misled as to the representation of a food via its

label. Labelling certainly provides detailed information on any food additives such as colours and can help assure people that the HSR rating displayed provides a true representation of the food.

In some instances, we are asked to interpret the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code for compliance or enforcement purposes. While FSANZ develops the standards in the Code, it does not enforce them. In certain instances, we need to hand enquirers over to our jurisdictional colleagues at MPI who are charged with interpreting the Code, for which we thank them.

We also get some more quirky enquiries such as what height a food serving window has to be from the ground, whether dogs (or other animals) are allowed in cafes, or whether using rusty cutlery is hazardous. We get food service workers filling us in on their employer’s poor hygiene practices or letting us know they wear stickon eyelashes. We’re notified when someone comes across research which indicates that chocolate bars on average contain 8 pieces of insect and we are asked what regulation is required on freeze dried human breastmilk. Conversely, there are more serious enquiries, such as the allergen status and labelling requirements for various foods, guidance on micro limits for foods, questions around infant formula products and what they are can and can’t contain, and what foods should be limited during pregnancy.

Then there’s the wonderful consumer comments which really make our day, like this one: “Good day, it is a truly a profound privilege to connect. I greatly appreciate your highly gracious and generous willingness to send over this truly substantive response. I am highly confident in you and your best-in-class team.” Got to take credit where credit’s due!

FSANZ continues to invest in our relationships and is stepping-up engagement with our stakeholders to maintain our focus on achieving excellence in client service delivery. This includes the consumers that take the time to reach out to us. Last year we asked how we can better meet our stakeholder needs via a new satisfaction survey. Our survey results which included feedback from consumers showed FSANZ stakeholder satisfaction rating is 72%. Let’s see if we can beat that figure this year!

Food New Zealand 20 Food Safety

Vibrio – the barometer of climate change

This article was written exclusively for Food NZ magazine by the NZ Food Safety Science & Research Centre

On the 5th of January, RadioNZ announced that the severe marine heatwave the lower South Island was experiencing was expected to peak around 4 degrees above average*. Great news for Southland swimmers, but also a warning to shellfish lovers. Many waterborne pathogens enjoy warmer temperatures too. Shellfish, being filter feeders, absorb and accumulate bacteria in their delicious flesh, with no harm to themselves, but sometimes serious consequences for their human predators.

Just before Christmas and the mass exodus to coastal holiday spots, NZ Food Safety (NZFS) launched a nationwide, targeted campaign to alert shellfish harvesters to the increased risk, in response to a series of outbreaks of gastroenteritis caused by the marine bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus. These bacteria live naturally in coastal and estuarine environments.

Graham Fletcher, a microbiologist and award-winning food safety scientist at Plant & Food Research who has studied Vibrio for forty years, was not surprised by the outbreaks. “I’ve just been waiting,” he said.

In a paper on the human pathogen, UK scientists dubbed Vibrio the “microbial barometer of climate change”. Water temperature is the main environmental factor affecting their population growth.

The most recent and largest outbreak in New Zealand, November 2021 to May 2022 (referred to as the 2022 outbreak), affected 60 people, that we know of, and hospitalised 25. Half of those infected were Māori or Pasifika, which could simply be due to the fact that they gather and share more shellfish. Outbreaks in 2019, 2020, and

2021 involved 23, 16, and 24 people and, unusually, two of them occurred in winter.

Enquiries identified undercooked mussels, both wild and commercially sourced, as the common link in all outbreaks, although a wide range of other seafoods were also implicated in the 2022 outbreak. While these Vibrio infections were foodborne, causing gastroenteritis, another species of Vibrio bacteria can also infect people through open skin wounds when wading or swimming in the sea, causing soft tissue infections. Sometimes these infections turn serious, endangering lives.

All identified cases of acute Vibrio parahaemolyticus gastroenteritis must be reported in New Zealand, but these cases are only identified when people have become sick enough to seek medical attention.

As with all cases of gastroenteritis, many people do not go to the doctor, or have faecal samples taken to confirm what is making them sick, so reported cases are likely the tip of the iceberg. In the United States, vibriosis caused by a range of Vibrio species, including Vibrio parahaemolyticus, causes about 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths every year.

Surveillance data needed

Nicola King of the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), who has contributed to projects aimed at understanding and managing New Zealand’s Vibrio risks, says, “We really need a reliable baseline of surveillance data so that we can tell if rates of infection are increasing as a result of climate change, to predict and plan for

February / March 2023 21 NZFSSRC
Graham Fletcher, Plant & Food Research Nicola King, ESR Tim Harwood, Cawthron Institute

Phil Bremer’s not so new position as Chief Scientist of the NZ Food Safety Science & Research Centre (NZFSSRC or the Centre) – he’d been acting in the role for some months – is a pinnacle of his four-decade-long career in microbiology, food science, marine biology, consumer behaviour studies, and his practical knowledge of the food industry, and how the research process works in universities and crown research institutes. Phil is currently the President of the NZIFST and a former president of both the NZ Microbiology Society, and the NZ Association for Food Protection.

The appointment comes on top of his recognition by the University of Otago as an outstanding researcher, teacher and leader, with the title of Distinguished Professor. Phil will now divide his time between his University teaching and research roles, and directing the Centre’s research pipeline. The synergies make the two roles seamless.

Phil grew up in Invercargill, and studied Zoology at the University of Otago, majoring in both Microbiology and Zoology. After an MSc in Marine Microbiology, he embarked on his PhD investigation of how heavy metals in sediments are accumulated by bacteria and passed along the food chain. His research attracted the interest of a group in the US that were looking at how bacteria attach to metal surfaces. And so followed 3 years as a postdoc, first at Long Beach State University in California, and then at the Centre for Biofilm Engineering in Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, where he investigated how bacteria attach to surfaces, and how

they form biofilms which protect them from environmental stresses, like cleaning agents in food processing facilities.

On the strength of his expertise in understanding how bacteria live and survive on surfaces, and his marine microbiology background, Phil landed a job in the Seafood Research Unit at Plant & Food Research, focusing on controlling Listeria in seafood processing plants. He was ten years there, ultimately as programme manager for seafood and vegetable safety. Phil started to realise that “it’s one thing to make safe food, but it also has to taste good and that can be more challenging.” And so he became more interested in food science and because his wife Louise was at the medical school in Otago – she is now a consultant oncologist – Plant & Food allowed him to spend part of his time in Dunedin, teaching microbiology in Otago University’s food science department. He enjoyed himself so much he eventually became full-time. Initially he taught food microbiology - understanding where and how pathogens enter the food system and how to control them.

Over time, his interest has evolved to encompass other research topics, including new product development, novel processing technologies, and understanding consumer acceptance or otherwise of these.

The role of Chief Scientist is absolutely critical to the Centre. Food safety science is, after all, its raison d’être, and Phil knows how to work with the food industry to identify and frame research projects, and how to put together effective research teams from the national science talent pool. One of the things he’d like to achieve as Chief Scientist is to develop better links between researchers working in food safety research and public health.

future disease burden, and to measure the impact of interventions.” Data on all types of Vibrio infections are not currently collated in New Zealand.

But how can we possibly manage such microbial invaders when they are naturally present in our oceans and have the freedom to come and go as the environment pleases them, and when we have thousands of kilometres of coastline to monitor? Is there any such thing as border control when it comes to water and airborne pathogens? What’s more, mutations in the bacteria keep moving the target.

Public education

We may not be able to keep them out, but we do have an effective public health defence strategy. If people follow strong advice to cook all shellfish thoroughly, they will certainly reduce the risk of getting sick from vibriosis. Not welcome advice for those who love their shellfish au naturel. And despite the plethora of social media channels, it can be hard to get word out to all the different communities, especially people for whom English is a second language. NZFS was up for the challenge.

Food New Zealand 22 NZFSSRC
Distinguished Professor Phil Bremer is the new Chief Scientist of NZFSSRC.

After conducting focus groups with Māori and Pasifika, who traditionally gather shellfish, NZFS distilled a clear, simple message: “Collecting Shellfish? Cook it!” The campaign features beach signs, posters outside dairies, display advertising in supermarkets and digital recipe cards. It targets people and places where shellfish gathering, buying and eating are most likely.

NZFS recognizes the additional food safety risks as people increasingly turn to wild food harvesting to offset the rising cost of food.

Studying Vibrio

While the immediate public health risk is being tackled up front, behind the scenes the combined scientific forces of the NZ Food Safety Science & Research Centre (NZFSSRC), the Cawthron Institute, ESR, Massey and Lincoln Universities, NZFS, and Plant & Food Research are focused on research over a broad front to learn more about Vibrio in shellfish – what, exactly, at the molecular level, makes some strains more toxic than others, what environmental factors affect its growth and turn the relevant genes on and off, at what storage temperatures do the bacteria stop growing or die and over what time period? Freezing, followed by 5 months’ frozen storage, has been shown to be an effective control. What are the relationships between air and water temperatures, salinity, heavy rainfall events, ocean currents, plankton populations (plankton are vectors), and so forth, that control the numbers of particular strains in shellfish? New Zealand seas tend to be more saline than many, but weather bombs can dilute seas locally. There’s a lot that we don’t yet understand, which makes managing the food risk presented by Vibrio parahaemolyticus difficult,” says Tim Harwood, the leader of Cawthron’s Seafood Safety SSIF platform. The outbreaks have proved the worth of the future-focused research that was carried out on Vibrio by Plant & Food Research a full decade before it showed itself in human infections in New Zealand.

Currently the Seafood Safety platform has $200,000 per annum tagged to Vibrio research and NZFS has put up c$100k pa extra to investigate the environmental conditions in the Vibrio parahaemolyticus outbreak areas. NZFS has assigned specialist microbiologist Anne-Marie Perchec-Merien to the brief. Graham Fletcher is working on a number of different research angles, applying his enormous fount of knowledge. Under the supervision of Steve Flint at Massey University, a PhD student has been deployed to study biofilm formation, which makes more bacteria resistant to stress. The NZFSSRC is keeping a watch on all this work, and in conjunction with NZFS, plans to fund an additional PhD student at Lincoln University (to be supervised by Stephen On), who will delve further into Vibrio genomics and gene expression.

The outbreaks are happening in a wide number of places, at unexpected times of year, and where there actually seem to be relatively low numbers of Vibrio . Does this mean that some among them are so exceptionally virulent that you don’t need to imbibe a large number

to make you sick? Or perhaps the seafood that made people sick was not kept suitably chilled before eating, leading to exponential growth in bacterial numbers. Research is needed to address these questions.

Whole-genome-sequencing studies

It’s not enough just to identify Vibrio parahaemolyticus as the species causing an illness, or to monitor population levels in our waters. Only the much vaunted whole genome sequencing can get down to the nitty gritty of the DNA differences responsible for virulence and other characteristics of interest. So far, two genes associated with toxicity have been identified, prosaically named thermostable direct haemolysin (TDH) and TDH related haemolysin (TRH). Our scientists are also interested in genes that may affect survivability and therefore storage temperatures. Once mapped, then simpler, cheaper, faster tests can be developed to look for key markers and to determine virulence.

New Zealand variants are different to those elsewhere, so there’s a limit to what we can learn from overseas studies. What we do know is that there is a general increase in cases around the world, and in areas where Vibrio has not usually been a problem. However, because surveillance is improving, it may just be that we’re better at finding them. Australia has also had issues over the last couple of years, with over 250 cases of illness linked to raw Pacific oysters grown in Coffin Bay, South Australia. Vibrio can be present in our oyster populations, and oysters were also one of the seafoods implicated in the recent outbreak. Most oyster eaters savour them uncooked.

As far as industry monitoring for Vibrio is concerned, there’s no point unless you know what you’re looking for, and have a good chance of detecting it. MostVibrio are harmless. If the relevant genetic markers (virulence factors) are only present in a random few bacteria, they can easily slip through the net. The industry has a strictly regulated control regime limiting harvesting after heavy rainfall and controlling post-harvest storage temperatures, butVibrio testing is not part of the regulatory control scheme as the specific organisms are too poorly defined. An important part of the research effort will be to decide how and what to monitor. For 90% of our mussel exports there isn’t an issue, as they are heat treated.

As well as warning people about the risks, Tim wants to remind inflation-stressed consumers that as well as being relatively low cost, mussels are an excellent source of protein and good oils (omega 3), with a low carbon footprint. He likes to steam his in the Mediterranean style, in a bit of white wine and garlic, which only takes about 5 minutes to prepare – another big plus.

People should not be unnecessarily alarmed about vibriosis,” says Tim, “as it can so easily be avoided by cooking.”


February / March 2023 23 NZFSSRC

Transforming food waste into animal feed

A food technology company is introducing a new, scientifically validated process across New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands to convert food waste into rich feed for poultry, pigs, and aquaculture, enhancing profitability and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the process.

The company has patented and patent-pending technology to convert any commercial food waste into high-performance animal feeds for industries including poultry, pigs, and aquaculture.

Food waste – a daunting prospect

As New Zealand and Australia return to business-as-usual and embrace the New Year, it’s worth casting a glance back. We leave behind not just 2022, but also waste – and plenty of it. A study by Australian Ethical found that the amount of waste Australians produce increases by 30% at Christmas.

The situation in New Zealand is very similar with the country’s Bioresource Processing Alliance reporting that 350,000 tonnes of food by-products are either going to landfill or have low value applications. New Zealand is a global leader in food production with a thriving food industry. However, a third of food produced in New Zealand is lost or wasted from farm to fork. A study by Otago University published in Sustainability Journal has found that uneaten food on consumers’ plates makes up 34% of food waste in the hospitality sector.

The numbers are indeed daunting. Australians throw out $20 billion worth of food each year. “Food waste rotting in landfill actually emits nearly six times the amount of greenhouse gases as the global aviation industry," says Dr Steve Lapidge, CEO at Fight Food Waste. The Adelaide-headquartered organisation is the lead agency in Australia’s fight to halve food waste by 2030 in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

Tackling the problem

A company operating throughout Australasia has developed novel technology to address this very issue. “In devising a successful environmental solution to food waste, we acknowledge it also has to make good business sense,” says Norm Boyle, CEO of Food Recycle. The company’s technology is capable of taking food waste from different sources and converting it into food for poultry, pigs, and aquaculture. The environmental impact is significant and tangible. For example, feed accounts for about 35% of the carbon footprint of 1 kg of chicken meat delivered to market and 76% of the carbon footprint of eggs.

Two tonnes of food waste can be converted into one tonne of complete food suitable for poultry, pigs, and aquaculture. Apart from preventing the generation of methane, Food Recycle’s processing of food waste also eliminates every known biosecurity risk at no additional cost.

The food waste comes from a variety of sources such as restaurants, abattoirs, farms, and processors. Each food waste stream is processed

Food New Zealand 24 Engineering
Nathan Boyle, Chief Operations Officer of Food Recycle, left, and Norm Boyle, company CEO, co-founded Food Recycle to tackle the global problem of food waste

individually, analysed, and stored separately as ingredients. “We then measure the nutritional and amino acid profile of each ingredient and blend them to make complete feeds,” says Boyle.

A series of rigorous trials conducted by CSIRO, Western Sydney University (WSU) and University of New England (UNE) have demonstrated the viability of Food Recycle’s process.

Methane and CO2

While there is much debate and discussion around CO2 and its impact on global warming, the adverse effects of methane should be acknowledged. Around 30% of human food produced goes to waste and when that food goes to landfill it produces methane – a gas that is 20 to 30 times worse than CO2 at trapping heat.

“Food waste rotting in landfill actually emits nearly six times the amount of greenhouse gases as the global aviation industry," says Dr Lapidge. "If we are going to do something about climate change, we really need to be looking closely at food waste."

In New Zealand, 9% of the country’s biogenic methane emissions and 4% of the total greenhouse gas emissions are from food and organic waste. The country has thus committed to halving its per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels by 2030, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains, including postharvest losses. Australia's emissions reduction targets of 43% by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050 have been enshrined in legislation. Effectively managing food waste will contribute to meeting that goal.

Successful trials


This study was conducted under the guidance of Dr Amy Moss, a postdoctoral research fellow at the School of Environmental and Rural Science, UNE. Dr Moss focuses on poultry nutrition and researches ways to promote efficient chicken-meat production.

Dr Moss and her team collaborated with Poultry Hub and Food Recycle to conduct a 40-week feed trial on layer hens using a food waste diet provided by Food Recycle. Egg quality and hen health were measured throughout the trial and then results compared. The study demonstrated the advantages of food waste-based feed for laying hens.

Performance was improved with food waste-based diets and egg production and quality was largely unchanged.


Another important food source that will benefit from food waste recycling is aquaculture, which in New Zealand includes trout, salmon, and kingfish among others. In Australia a major focus is barramundi (a species of bass). This fish is widely farmed across most of Australia and the sector is expected to grow 14% each year, with annual production going from the current 9,000 tonnes to 25,000 tonnes by 2025. Cost-effective aquaculture food production will be beneficial to the growth of this sector and Food Recycle has tapped into the one of the world’s largest multidisciplinary science and research organisations, CSIRO. Under the organisation’s Kick-Start programme, Australian innovators and small businesses are provided with funding support and access to CSIRO’s research expertise and capabilities to help grow and develop their business. Food Recycle was one of the businesses chosen for this grant. Over a six-week period, CSIRO Scientist Dr Ha Truong conducted a feed trial on barramundi using a food waste diet with the feed provided by Food Recycle.

“Significant growth improvements were observed when food waste ingredients were incorporated in diets at 67%, partially replacing traditional ingredients,” says Dr Ha. Interestingly, the high food waste diet increased weight gain of the barramundi by 35% and intake by 13% compared to the control while also achieving a food conversion ratio of less than 1, indicating that the conversion of diet into fish growth was highly efficient.

The challenge of reducing food waste has attracted the attention of the Australian Government which launched the National Food Waste Baseline in 2019. This project is the first detailed quantification of food waste in Australia across the full food supply and consumption chain, from primary production through to consumption and disposal or recovery. The resulting strategy adopts a circular economy approach and seeks to capture food waste as a resource.

Technology-led innovations like the one from Food Recycle are key to meeting environmental targets. “We are working to convert food waste from a problem into a product and have successfully demonstrated this,” says Boyle.

About Food Recycle

Food Recycle is an Australian technology start-up that was founded to tackle the global problem of food waste. The company has patented and patent-pending technology to convert any commercial food waste into high performance animal feeds. Located in NSW, Australia, the company has worked with some of the best scientists in the country to develop and validate the technology.

Since inception, the company has heavily focused on Research and Development. With the technology being implemented in Australia and New Zealand, the company's focus is now on licensing opportunities in the international market.

February / March 2023 25 Engineering

Oils and Fats News

Laurence Eyres FNZIFST

A round up of news from the world of lipids.

Liposomes and oleogels as replacements for solid/saturated fats.

Solid fats contribute to the viscosity, hardness, plasticity, and spreadability of fat-containing food products. The mouthfeel and hardness resulting from the crystal network of fat-containing saturated fatty acids are required and currently irreplaceable in many food products such as puff pastry. The market potential of fat substitutes can be determined by major factors: (a) the size of the markets for products in which fat substitutes can be used and (b) the fat content of the products.

The global fats and oils market is estimated at USD 236.7 billion in 2021.

Some of the food matrices replacing conventional oils and fats in shortening and spreads include oleogels and liposomes. There is lots of potential in the field of oleogels, but certain drawbacks and a lack of in-depth information in various aspects have delayed their commercialisation in the food industry.

Oleogels can be characterised as semisolid systems in which continuous liquid phases are physically immobilised by self-assembled networks of gelators. Under the premise of improving nutrition and the wellbeing of consumers, oleogels are often structured with healthy liquid oils while exhibiting acceptable solid-like behaviour. Despite the recent exponential growth in the oleogel field, the use of oleogels is still in the early stages of development due to several challenges. These challenges include food regulations that not only require food grade gelators, but also impose restrictions on gelator concentrations in food products. So far, various oleogels with different classes of gelators have been formulated, but not all of them are food grade.

Sustainable Food Processing,15 September 2020

We are looking to sponsor a fourth year Food Science student in this topic of fat delivery systems and preventing oxidation. Will also include rapid methods of analysis for extraction and oxidation.

If you are interested


Covid, coffee and blood pressure

The blood pressure criteria for this study are slightly different from the ACC/AHA guidelines. Researchers classified blood pressure into five categories: optimal and normal (less than 130/85 mm Hg); high normal (130-139/85-89 mm Hg); grade 1 hypertension (140159/90-99 mm Hg); grade 2 (160-179/100-109 mm Hg); and grade 3 (higher than 180/110 mm Hg). Blood pressure measures in grades

2 and 3 were considered severe hypertension in this study. New onset hypertension was observed in 18 patients at the end of 31.6 ± 5.0 days on average (P <. 001). These findings may support the assertion that people with severe high blood pressure should avoid drinking excessive coffee," said Iso. "Because people with severe hypertension are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine, caffeine's harmful effects may outweigh its protective effects and may increase the risk of Post covid hypertension (including worrying about the world state).

Lipid-lowering nutraceuticals in clinical practice: position paper from an International Lipid Expert Panel. Arrigo F G Cicero, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 75, Issue 9, September 2017, Pages 731–767,

Avocado Congress in Auckland April 2023

Plans are progressing well for this event, planned for April 2-5 at the Aotea centre. One of the invited speakers is Professor Selina Wang from UC Davis, California USA. She is a member of the AOCS and is a member of the NZIC Oils and Fats group. She is a research collaborator with Professor Marie Wong of Massey University and Dr Allan Woolf of Plant & Food Research. Dr Laurence Eyres also helps with the science and technology for processing of the oil into finished products.

Selina has published significant papers in the field of Avocado oil and Olive Oil particularly in her ground-breaking studies on spotting fraudulent and adulterated olive and avocado oil samples.

Researchers develop cheaper, more effective NMR techniques to test Olive Oil

A new method to authenticate and locate the origin of olive oil samples is the subject of recent research published in Science of Food

A team of international researchers successfully verified the grade of unmarked olive oil samples using a single droplet and benchtop-sized equipment.

According to the researchers, their nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) method is cheaper and simpler than other methods since it does not require large facilities or a laboratory environment.

Food New Zealand 26 Oils & Fats
Professor Selina Wang from UC Davis, California USA will be speaking at the Congress

Additionally, operating the equipment does not require a highly skilled, dedicated technician.

The new method allowed the researchers to correctly identify the 95 olive oil sample grades out of 100. The result is significantly more accurate than other methods, such as near-infrared spectroscopy (84 out of 100) and ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy (73 out of 100).

The authors said traditional NMR approaches are affected by several drawbacks, such as “costly cryogenic cooling gases and complicated pre-analysis steps.”

More specifically, the new method deploys NMR relaxometry, a proven method to compare olive oil sample microstructures to known benchmarks rapidly.

The analysis is meant to identify the slightest differences among olive oil samples, such as their physiochemical composition or molecular microenvironment. Those differences induce substantial changes in the relaxation mechanism, allowing precise detection.

The researchers also believe their approach can be used to identify olive oil products based on the regions of origin. The scientists noted the novel approach is also faster than other methods as the tiny olive oil samples do not need pre-treatment before analysis.

Vitamin D supplementation

Regular use of vitamin D supplements is associated with fewer melanoma cases compared to non-use: a cross-sectional study in 498 adult subjects at risk of skin cancers

There are conflicting results on the role of Vitamin D in cutaneous carcinogenesis. A recent trial of 498 adults was studied and they self-reported their use of Vitamin D supplements. The serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin-D3 was analysed and indicated that the investigator-estimated-risk of skin cancers was significantly lower among regular users. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin-D3 did not show marked associations with skin-related parameters. The results on 96 immunosuppressed subjects were somewhat similar, although the number of subjects was low. In conclusion, regular use of vitamin D associates with fewer melanoma cases, when compared to non-use, but the causality between them is obscure.( Kanasuo, Emilia; et. al. Melanoma Research (): CMR.0000000000000870, December 28, 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/CMR.0000000000000870.)

Fish oil and COVID

New research from the University of Manitoba suggests fish oil may lower the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The supplements would be the first among the non-pharmaceutical approaches to fighting the illness.

UoM researchers working at the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine and at the St. Boniface Albrechtsen Research Centre discovered animals consuming fish oil have fewer of the anchor points needed for entry of the virus into the heart, aorta, and kidneys.

Taking fish oil led to a 50% to 75% reduction of a protein called ACE2, which is found on the surface of some cells. “The virus comes and binds to it, attaches to it, and that allows it to penetrate into the cells and put its DNA in there, and there it replicates or makes more viruses to infect other cells,” explained Peter Zahradka,

a researcher and professor of physiology and pathophysiology at UoM.

The researchers also plan to explore fish oil's effects on long COVID. “If the COVID virus is still having an effect months later by suppressing the ACE2 protein, it may be able to suppress the ability of long COVID to come back,” he said.

The findings were published on Nov. 10, 2022, in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Earlier work was published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, (2020), 156,190-199

Phthalates in vegetable oils

This article reviews the sources, content, and removal methods of phthalate esters (PAEs) in edible vegetable oils. It aims to assess the global pollution status of PAEs in edible vegetable oil, provide information and reference for the control of PAEs in edible vegetable oil, and provide future reference for PAEs in edible vegetable oil.

At present, PAE production accounts for about 80% of the total plasticiser production, mostly used as softeners in the plastics industry. It is also used as an insect repellent, a carrier for insecticides, an additive for cosmetics, synthetic rubber, lubricating oil, printing ink, and the like. PAEs are pollutants with a molecular structure similar to hormones. They can enter the human body through skin contact, respiratory tract, and digestive system. Studies have shown that long-term intake of more than safe doses of PAEs can poison the liver, kidney, lung, heart, and reproductive multi-tissue system. Nowadays, the main methods to remove PAEs from edible oils are physical adsorption, steam distillation, molecular distillation, and solvent extraction Review on Occurrence, Sources of Contamination, and Mitigation Strategies of Phthalates (PAE) in Vegetable Oils, Su Yin Wang, Man Qiu Wang, En Qi Yang, Xian Mao Chen, Feng Guang Pan Lipid Expert in New Zealand

Professor Eric Decker will be in New Zealand from January to April, 2024 on sabbatical at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson with Dr. Matt Miller. The group is hoping to put together a one-day seminar around his visit. Eric is currently a Professor and Head of the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is actively conducting research to characterise mechanisms of lipid oxidation, antioxidant protection of foods and the health implications of bioactive lipids. He is a longtime member of AOCS and the author of many publications over his career.

AAOCS 2023

Professor Eric Decker

This will be in Newcastle, Australia, in November 2023. This is just a preliminary notice for diaries. The conference will be 13-15th of November at Noah’s on the Beach, Newcastle. Two workshops will also occur on the 13th prior to the opening address and 2022 AAOCS award recipient lecture by Dr Laurence Eyres.

February / March 2023 27 Oils & Fats

Staff turnover survey results released

The traditional staff turnover cycle has been flipped on its head

John Lawson, Lawson Williams Recruitment

The Lawson Williams National Staff Turnover and Employment Survey is now in its 15th year. It has once again produced some interesting findings that assist participating companies to better understand the performance of their recruitment, onboarding, and retention processes.

Over recent years the survey has broadened its focus to include data on skills shortages and vacancies, flexible work options and salaries and benefits. The latest report, covering data to June 30th, 2022, shows clearly that post-Covid market conditions have flipped the traditional Staff Turnover cycle on its head.

In the employment market, under challenging economic conditions, we typically expect to see decreased Voluntary Turnover and increased Involuntary Turnover, however in 2021 we saw a disruption to the traditional Staff Turnover model, with a 44% decrease in Involuntary turnover and a 30% increase in Voluntary Turnover. The average National Staff Turnover rate for 2021 grew to 20.5%. This was a 10.8% increase from 2020 which followed a 6.1% decrease from 2019. See Figure 1.

In the first half of 2022 we found National Staff Turnover at 12.3%, which was an 18.3% increase on the half yearly level at 30 June 2021. Based on this half-yearly figure we are expecting to report another significant gain in National Staff Turnover for the full year of 2022 and into the first half of 2023.


As we head into 2023 the crystal ball is very hazy and from an economic perspective many balls seem to be in the air.

From past experience we know that high interest rates and levels of inflation plus low levels of business confidence will likely dent the willingness of employees to move so freely and as a result Voluntary

Turnover should decline in 2023. However, the slow-to-open borders and associated restrictive immigration settings still leave us with significant skills shortages and continuing demand for talent, along with continuing rising salaries.

A decrease in the level of Voluntary Turnover is therefore uncertain. Will it lead to an overall decrease in National Staff Turnover in 2023?

In these unusual circumstances what can companies do?

1. Measure your staff turnover and compare to other companies in your industry or sector. If your Voluntary turnover is higher than your competitors, it is a fact your business will be less competitive. If it is better than your competitors, you must be doing something right so find out what it is and build on it.

2. Be proactive, identify your key talent and determine their motivators. Develop a range of retention strategies, regardless of the size of your company.

Skills shortages and the cost of vacancy (COV)

The reality of skills shortages is a hotly debated and politicised topic in New Zealand.

The 2022 NZ Staff Turnover Survey canvassed organisations on the impacts of current skills shortages.

In 2022, 72% of businesses had positions they were unable to fill, an increase from 64% in 2021. See Figure 2.

What is an acceptable time for a vacancy to be open?

Open positions come with a substantial financial impact for your organisation. Vacancy, no matter how you spin it, impacts the expenses of your business, including:

• Overtime to cover the responsibilities of the open position.

• Loss of revenue due to insufficient personnel

• Time spent recruiting, marketing, and hiring.

Food New Zealand 28 Careers
Figure 1. Average National Total, Voluntary and Involuntary Turnover n National Involuntary Turnover n National Voluntary Turnover n National Turnover

Accounting and Finance

Sales and Marketing/Communications/Digital

Engineering/Technical/Construction – Unqualified, Skilled and Unskilled Labour

Engineering/Technical/Construction – Trades

Engineering/Technical/Construction – Skilled/Professional

Supply Chain/Manufacturing/Operations – Unskilled

Supply Chain/Manufacturing/Operations – Skilled

Admin, Customer Services, Corporate Services, Human Resources etc.


• Possible use of temporary staffing services or contractors

• Time spent training the new hire.

The shocking reality of the skills shortage in New Zealand is shown in the time that vacancies have remainedopen.

Of the 72% of businesses with vacancies, 62% of those had vacancies open for more than 6 months with 21.5% with vacancies open for greater than12months.SeeFigure3.

Flexible work options

Flexible work options have emerged strongly as a necessityofCovid-19

Thishascoincidedwithadefinitemovebyemployees to seek better work/life balance with a strong preference for working from both the office and home

Employers are recognising that this is becoming an important retention strategy and a tool of attraction fornewemployees.

However, as with so many aspects of people management, the devil is in the detail, and some organisations have found that implementing flexible working policies presents them with a number of challenges.SeeFigure3.

In 2022 81.5% of business reported offering s ome form of flexible work options to some or all of their employees.

More information is available HERE.

John Lawson is founder of Lawson Williams Consulting Group. He initially studied Biotechnology at Massey and is a professional member of NZIFST. He now enjoys leading a team of recruitment consultants, helping people like you develop satisfying careers.

February / March 2023 29
Specialist Recruitment - Permanent and Contract
Figure 3. Percentage of companies and maximum months a position has been vacant
n 2022 n 2021
Figure 2. Percentages of companies with vacancies by role


Conference update

The NZIFST 2023 conference is an opportunity to come together and discuss how the New Zealand food industry and NZIFST can respond to the myriad of challenges that we are experiencing in this ‘changing world’. Conference organising committee members are in the process of confirming plenary speakers to provide both big picture and in-depth perspectives relating to the conference theme. With other events happening in Dunedin, we encourage you to make your travel and accommodation plans early to make sure you do not miss out. Details on accommodation will be announced on the website and circulated via Nibbles as they are confirmed.

The committee are looking forward to welcoming delegates to Ōtepoti | Dunedin for an exciting programme.

2023 Plenary Speakers

The committee is pleased to announce the following speakers:

Professor Philip Marriott

The committee is proud to host an international speaker who is a global expert in advanced analytical techniques applied to food and a range of other samples to solve real world problems.

His primary research is in comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC) and multidimensional GC, and mass spectrometry, including fundamental development and a broad applications base. Foods, flavours and beverage analysis feature strongly amongst key directions for the advanced separations technologies he has developed.

Professor Warren McNabb

Warren joined the Riddet Institute in 2016. Prior to that, he was the Research Director at AgResearch Ltd.

His research interests include nutrition for health, sustainable nutrition, human microbiome interactions, and physiology and metabolism.

Warren leads several programmes including the MBIE-funded programme, New Zealand Milks Mean More and the Sustainable Nutrition Initiative (SNi:

Warren is also a Principal Investigator in the Riddet Institute CoRE Research programme ( and an Associate Investigator in the HVN National Science Challenge (www. priority research programmes, Healthy Digestion and Infant Health. His focus is on food structures-nutrient digestion interactions, clinical investigations of nutrition, microbehuman interactions and gastrointestinal function.

First call for abstracts

You are invited to submit an abstract to present an oral or poster presentation for the conference. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

• What is New Zealand’s place in feeding the world?

• How changes in agriculture/horticulture impact on the food industry?

• How can New Zealand achieve carbon neutrality and what is the role of the food industry?

• Evolving markets for New Zealand exports.

• Regulatory requirements in overseas markets.

• Re-evaluating the future of genetic modification.

• The role of food processing for optimum nutrition.

• Food waste, sustainability and circular economies.

• Innovations in the food industry for sustainable food production.

• The future of sustainable packaging and its role in preventing food waste.

• Nutritional quality of plant-based foods and animal proteins.

• Traceability and authenticity of high value foods.

• Fermented foods: flavour, nutrition and health.

• Current challenges and opportunities in food safety.

• Sensory and flavour science to meet consumer demands.

• Consumer insights and behaviour.

Any research, developments, or innovations from both academia and industry that fits with these topics and the conference theme are also welcome.

Abstracts will be submitted online. The link to the online portal will be ready early in February. Instructions for submission and the link to the portal will be notified shortly.

Due Dates

Oral and 3MP – Friday 10th March

Poster – Friday 28th April

The New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre’s (NZFSSRC) Annual Symposium with be held on Monday 3rd July in conjunction with the NZIFST conference. Note that this is a departure from previous years when the NZFSSRC’s Annual Symposium was held on the Monday prior to the start of the NZIFST conference. NZIFST attendees will have the option of registering for either the NZIFST conference or both the NZIFST and the NZFSSRC meetings. There will also be a stand-alone NZFSSRC registration option.

Food New Zealand 30 NZ IFST
Professor Philip Marriott, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia Professor Warren McNabb, Riddet Institute

EHEDG New Zealand

Report for February 2023

Not only is the end of the year a very busy time for the Food Industry managing stock levels, supply chain and organising production requirements over the holiday period, it has also been a very busy time for EHEDG globally and in New Zealand.

EHEDG in Europe staged its biennial World Congress in Munich mid-October, after having to cancel the original event in 2020 because of Covid. The numbers attending were very positive and everyone revelled in the opportunity to meet face-to-face.

I attended the meeting and Plenary Session for EHEDG regional sections around the world the day before the Congress, but unfortunately Covid was determined to eventually get me and I missed the Congress sessions themselves through isolation requirements. Some important topics were discussed including the introduction of hygienic design requirements into the GFSI standards and the role of EHEDG in working with GFSI on development of the auditable elements and principles of hygienic design impacting on food safety. The need to undertake hygienic design risk assessments as part of global Food Safety Management Systems is going to significantly increase the need for food manufacturers to understand the principles and tools of hygienic design to meet the adoption of the GFSI requirements through the third party auditing bodies. Other very influential presentations were given on “Structure and requirements for cleaning validation in the food industry”, “Challenges in hygienic design of open food processing facilities”, and multiple presentations on adoption and the role of digitalisation in the food industry. I encourage you to visit the EHEDG website to view pdf files of the presentations: -

The 2022 Congress also marked the end of the term of Ludvig Josefburg as president of EHEDG and the appointment of Hein Timmerman (Global Sector Specialist Dairy & Processed Foods at Diversey) to the role. Hein has been very active within the executive bodies of EHEDG and brings a lot of experience to the position. New guidelines recently reviewed and released have been: Doc #45

– Cleaning and Validation Monitoring and Verification and Doc # 37 – Hygienic Design and Application of Sensors. New Guidelines in final stages of review for release before mid-year include: Doc #51 – Hygienic Design Aspects of Tank/Vessel Cleaning in the Food Industry, Doc #48 – Seals, and Doc #57 – <boldcolour>Open Plant Cleaning.

On the New Zealand front, EHEDG NZ ran a second, 3-day Advanced Hygienic Design Training Course for 2022 in Christchurch at the Novotel Cathedral Square Convention Centre. It was a very successful course with 21 registered delegates who all achieved their EHEDG Certificate, recognised globally as a training qualification. EHEDG has aligned with the Allergen Bureau with mutual recognition of resources and technical information. Watch their website for upcoming webinars/articles on optimisation of process efficiency and changeover times through hygienic design, amongst other topics. What does EHEDG NZ have planned for 2023? The most immediate focus is to stage another 3-day Advanced Hygienic Design Training Course in Auckland from May 2nd – 4th (venue to be advised very soon). It will be the first time back in Auckland since the original running of a course in 2019. Put this event in your calendar and keep visiting the NZIFST website events page for further details and registration – The event is limited to 24 delegates so don’t delay. We also plan to display at FoodTech PackTech in September and possibly run the 1-day EHEDG Hygienic Design Fundamentals training course at this time. We also have a key objective to upgrade our website, accessed through the EHEDG main website, to provide more information on New Zealand activities and offerings. We plan to market a broader range of training modules (as well as those offered in the two formal EHEDG courses) that can be delivered as in-house sessions, sector group presentation and/or industry events. Further information will be posted on these initiatives in the very near future.

Follow EHEDG on Linkedin and through the official website. Contact: / Ph: 021 569447

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Spotlight on Torben Sorensen, Food Technologist, Consultant

This is the second in our occasional Q&A Series, where NZIFST Fellows sit down with FoodNZ and share some of their career story.

1. How do you describe yourself and your expertise?

I sometime say that I sit on a three-legged stool. That is to say that I have three strengths to draw on.

In the first instance I have a strong background in food process engineering, and have been involved for much of my career in establishing factories and production lines. One of the better-known projects was to equip the Foodbowl with equipment, and assist with the layout of the facility.

The second strength I draw on is basic science, using this to provide solutions to complex problems. One of my favourite projects was to provide a client with a solution to enable them to extend the shelflife of their products using an advanced process of mathematical modelling.

Finally I have had more that 40 years of experience in food microbiology, and have a reasonable understanding of the field as it applies to both food spoilage and food safety.

2. Tell me the pathway that you followed into your skillset. I graduated with a B Tech, taking the engineering option, and took a position in the fishing industry. After working in quality management and product development, I took a position to set up a factory for further processed goods. I returned to Massey to do a M Tech. This was the beginning of a more science-based approach, with my thesis aimed at better understanding the changes that occur in meat (fish muscle) immediately after death as the muscles are deprived of oxygen, and changes leading to rigor mortis set in. On completing my Masters, we moved to Denmark where I took a position as a Research Engineer with the Danish Ministry of Fisheries. I continued working in the area of fish muscle processing, publishing work on applied fish processing.

On returning to New Zealand, I started up Sorensen Laboratories Ltd. Initially I found myself peddling services that could generically be described as food technology, covering a range of skills from product development to quality control, and process development. Eventually we found a niche in food microbiology and set up a certified microbiology laboratory. Around this time, I also accepted international contracts, many with a basis on work in fish processing. The other experience I gained at this time was working with advisory groups. In this capacity I was a member of the Biological Sciences Committee, acting under the Foundation for Research Science and Technology to oversee the process of peer review as a means of evaluating and funding science and research as provided by the Crown

Research Institute in New Zealand and to ensure that government policy was maintained in the outcomes. I also served as a member of The Meat Industry Laboratory Approval Scheme, which was instigated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Meat Producers Board to ensure laboratories serving the New Zealand Meat Industry performed to a standard that would be accepted by New Zealand’s major trading partners.

3. What qualifications do you hold?

I have a B Tech (Food) (1970) and a Master of Technology (Hons) (1974)

4. Please tell us of some of your experiences.

In the early days the industry was very much “wild west” and I sometimes found myself operating both as a technologist and a conscience. In one of my first contract jobs I was to develop a range of dog food. Being keen to impress, I had gone out to the site one night to discover that the facility was being used to produce sausages for human consumption. I found myself trying to explain to the owners why it was not possible for the line to be used interchangeably for both purposes. This example takes us to the present day, where food safety is much more tightly controlled, with the audit trails of ingredients, cleaning and food safety handled in a disciplined and professional manner. I think these improvements demonstrate advancements that I have seen during my years in the industry. While I may only have played a small part of these changes, it has been very satisfying to be a part of a profession that has accomplished so much, giving New Zealand the reputation of having one of the most highly regarded food industries in the world.

5. Advice for anyone interested in pursuing a career in your area.

Perhaps the best advice I can give is to accept that you will never stop learning. Our initial qualifications are no more than the key to opening a career in an ever changing industry. If you work in the area of process engineering you one day will be working with systems that are not yet thought of.

The second bit of advice I would offer is that we are ultimately serving a consumer who deserves our very best attention and care. For this reason, we must always ensure the consumers’ interests come first. This means being up-front with our products and the ingredients we use: ensuring we never compromise on food safety or consumers’ wellbeing. It also means that we need to do our best to be in step with their interests, be that related to minimising waste, avoiding pollutants and giving consideration to sustainability and the environment.

Torben’s email is

Food New Zealand 32 NZ IFST
Torben Sorensen FNZIFST

Branch News

Auckland Branch Christmas Party

Our final event of 2022 was the first in-person Christmas event the Auckland Branch has been able to have since the start of the pandemic. Members enjoyed a two-course sit down dinner, with a quiz and a show hosted by a drag queen called Vanessa LaRoux at Union Post, Ellerslie.

Waiting for dinner at the Auckland Branch Christmas party (above)

Auckland Branch members clearly enjoying themselves at the Branch Christmas party

February / March 2023 33 NZ IFST
Jess Chong


Christmas Party, Hoi An House

A large group of 34 members from the Canterbury Westland branch celebrated a successful 2022 with a shared dinner at Hoi An House. As always, it’s a lively event where many of the members who are intermittently together during the year gather to catch up, welcome the new members and reminisce of days past working together here or there.

The food was fresh and diverse, the company exceptional and the showman is well versed in his once-a-year performance. It is real

NZIFST New Members

NZIFST welcomes the following new members and new student and Graduate members

Standard Members

Janine Hastie Account Manager Sherratt Ingredients

Dewan Khan Account Manager TransChem Graduate

Victoria Wyllie Technical Research Assistant Meadow Mushrooms Students

University of Auckland: Kelly Poon, Jinglan Wang

Wintec: Sagar Mehta

entertainment when Jono Cox kicks off his quiz and there is some fierce competition, vigorous technical debate along with some completely underhand tactics to come out on top. The branch was well supported by members’ businesses once again with generous donations and a goodie bag for all.

The branch chair, Michelle Neyra thanked the branch members and the committee for all the hard work and contributions over the year and we look forward to hosting some engaging and innovative events in 2023.


Visit to Whittaker’s Chocolate, Porirua, Jan 18

One of the true stars of the food manufacturing scene in our region is Whittaker’s chocolate factory, located in Porirua in Wellington’s northern suburbs. After many attempts over several years to organise a site tour for Central Branch members, Whittaker’s agreed to host a small group of 15 for an exclusive walk around the plant on a balmy Wednesday evening in late January. Whittaker’s rarely allows outsiders into their factory, being jealous of the competitive advantage wrung from their years of experience in an industry generally ruled by global behemoths like Nestle, Mondelez (Cadbury) and Mars. Whittaker’s have much to be jealous of, having battled these multinationals to become the local market leader in the retail chocolate category. In the 2022 New Zealand Trusted Brands Awards, Whittaker’s won the title of New Zealand’s Most Iconic Brand and ranked first as the most trusted brand across all product classes, which status has been held for the past decade. Clearly that is no small

Food New Zealand 34 NZ IFST

achievement for a family company in consumer markets increasingly open to global competition. Indeed Whittaker’s is embarking on its own global takeover with around 30% of its production now sold outside New Zealand.

Whittaker’s was formally established in 1896 by the company’s recently (1890) arrived colonial entrepreneur, patriarch James Henry “JH” Whittaker, when he converted his Christchurch, home-based chocolate operation into a fully-fledged confectionery manufacturing company. In 1911 “JH” moved the company to Wellington as JH Whittaker and Sons with both sons, James and Ronald, having joined the family business. The company has remained a Wellington regional institution ever since and has, remarkably, been continuously owned and operated by the Whittaker family for more than 125 years. The third generation of Whittaker’s, Andrew and Brian, have steered the company through its growth explosion and still remain active in the day-to-day decisions in the business. Coming in behind them, Andrew’s son Matt and daughter Holly occupy senior managerial roles, meaning a fourth generation stands ready to take the reins when required.

Market success has demanded substantial expansion on the site which has fortunately been enabled through acquisition of adjacent properties when neighbours, Hannahs and Wormald, vacated. The integrated site is currently undergoing its ninth stage of development with groundworks underway for expanded factory processing and staff amenities. (Actually, this is Stage 8, deferred due to Covid effects, Stage 9 facility development having jumped the queue and been operational since 2020).

Our factory tour was thorough, lasting over 90 minutes. We were led, in small groups of 5 by Whittaker's' middle managers who were very familiar with the details of both the company and the process. There are 5 finishing lines producing an array of 52 distinct products, mostly chocolate-based but still including the K-bar toffee products core to my own school tuck-bar habit in the 1960s.

While chocolate itself is a relatively simple concoction of just a few ingredients used in different ratios for different styles of chocolate – cocoa beans, sugar, milk powder and lecithin – distinctive bean sources and the extensive selection of inclusions and fillings that supplement the base chocolate means that raw material inventory is extensive. With a substantial proportion of Whittaker’s production

NZIFST Central Members with our hosts, kitted up to visit Whittaker’s chocolate manufacturing plant in Porirua

relying on imported ingredients, recent logistical challenges on global distribution chains into New Zealand has further complicated raw material inventory management for Whittaker’s – as it has for many manufacturing operations here at the bottom of the world.

Confectionary is a seasonal business, with Christmas and Easter providing concentrated demand over the regular plateau. Though still several months away, Easter specialties manufacturing is already complete and in the warehouse for distribution. Covid lockdowns further enhanced demand with a bar of chocolate a frequent aid to surviving one’s own company.

Company growth has led to substantial investment in plant to support expansion. Whittaker’s has invested in cutting-edge European technology, including highly automated bean roasters, a set of 5-roll chocolate refiners and an integrated casting, tempering wrapping and packing line with impressive robotics. Whittaker’s has even managed to parlay an aspect of that technology into a marketing focus by highlighting the impact of five-roll refiners on product quality. A consequence of this modernisation and automated process is that there is less human intervention than might be imagined for the volume of product that leaves the factory.

Ensuring product safety and particularly the absence of foreign matter is fundamental to the Whittaker’s process with ingredients and products being subjected to an impressive series of inspections with x-ray, metal detection and visual inspection repeatedly applied throughout the process. So frequent are these inspection steps that it is likely that a single peanut travelling through the process from its incoming box to a 250g peanut block will have endured more than a dozen integrity inspections by the time it is palletised.

The Whittaker’s Porirua manufacturing facility was an impressively modern factory. We were privileged to be accorded a rare invitation to see it first-hand and to be provided an insightful commentary on the complexities of the operation by our hosts. We thank Whittaker’s personnel, Martin, Baz, Aaron and Toni, for giving up their personal time to host us and for the goodie bags they insisted we take away with us. Hopefully we were well-enough behaved to allow a repeat event for the overflow of members who wanted to join this visit but could not be accommodated.

February / March 2023 35 NZ IFST
DON'T MISS THIS EVENT Come and join us for the science and technology and the people. The best place to network with your colleagues Abstract Submission portal open soon. Conference Committee Chair is Graham Eyres For more information contact

Articles from Food New Zealand magazine February/March23