A £2m food safety centre that has created 20 jobs will be launched at Queen’s University this month.
The centre for Assured, Safe and Traceable Food (Asset) will offer direct help to the local agri-food industry, which generates £2.4bn in sales, creates 2.2% of NI Gross Value Added and employs 12% of the private sector.
To coincide with the opening of Asset on September 29 a conference will be held highlighting the challenges and opportunities for agri-food industries in the global market.
The new centre will conduct cutting-edge research to ensure that the safest and highest quality food in the world is produced across Ireland. It is led by Professor Chris Elliott, director of the Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use, in Queen’s School of Biological Sciences.
Prof Elliott said: “Food is now a true global commodity and we are in competition with the rest of the world. We know other places can produce food cheaper but our opportunities lie in producing the safest, highest quality and most traceable food in the world.
“At Asset we are using emerging technologies to deliver high-level traceability to detect and predict problems. We want to let local companies know how they can tap in Asset’s expertise.
“Last year’s dioxin crisis shows how the failure of just one small piece of equipment and failure to detect this problem quickly can cause multi-million pound losses as well as a loss of trust in the supply chain.”
Part-funded by the Department for Employment and Learning, the new centre has links with Ashtown Food Research Centre in Dublin, Dublin City University and University College Dublin.