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Speech by Professor Gerry Boyle, Director, at the seminar on Product Shelf-life

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc Good morning, you are all very welcome to Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown for this seminar on Food Product Shelf-life and Microbiological criteria for foodstuffs, held in conjunction with the FSAI.

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc 

Good morning, you are all very welcome to Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown for this seminar on Food Product Shelf-life and Microbiological criteria for foodstuffs, held in conjunction with the FSAI.

The agri-food sector is the largest indigenous industry in Ireland and is critical component in the recovery of the Irish economy, as planned in Food Harvest 2020. In 2011 it is expected that Irish Food and Drink exports will reach almost €9 billion, an increase of more than 12% on 2010 levels. This trend is to continue into the future, and requires that a culture of innovation is in place together with the highest standards of food safety and quality.

Teagasc is unique in terms of scope of operation, from farm to fork and through its research, technology and knowledge transfer programmes is well placed to help support food sector development to attain Food Harvest goals.

The Teagasc Food programme, consisting of world class research centres here in Ashtown, Dublin and Moorepark, Fermoy provides food safety research which is nationally and internationally recognized, and the programme is regarded as a centre of excellence in the provision of science-based innovative research to assure and enhance food safety. This research provides the scientific basis and knowledge for food safety assurance by the Irish Food Industry. The food research programme is well resourced with state of the art laboratories, modern equipment and facilities and staffed by some 200 scientists and technologists. There has been a continual level of new investment in our facilities, equipment and expertise in our food programme over many years. All our research programmes including our programme in microbial and chemical food safety is carried out in collaboration with national and also many international partners through our international contacts and the EU Research Framework Programme. Teagasc are cognisant of the difficulties faced by the Irish Food industry and appreciate the importance of involving the industry where possible and of the need to transfer the knowledge from the research programme to the industry.

Our aim is to ensure that this scientific knowledge generated in our food safety research programme is transferred to industry in a coherent and user friendly format. Many of our food companies have significant R &D resources and expertise and can utilise research to their own advantage. However, like many other countries, a large proportion of the Irish food industry are considered as small and medium sized food businesses with limited R & D resources and often these businesses are challenged in understanding and meeting both commercial and regulatory food requirements. To address this need Teagasc has put in place a specific programme of supports for the food SME sector which involves supporting industry through training courses, scientific seminars and working with individual companies through our consultancy, product development and testing services. Some examples of this work with industry in the food safety area is in training and advice in the implementation of HACCP based food safety management systems, and more recently in food safety regulation on microbiological criteria for foods, (EC) No 2073/2005. In 2010 for example Teagasc provided research, training and consultancy services to close on 300 food sector businesses. Along with our work with the FSAI we are also working very closely with other food development agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia in ensuring that the most up to date and available supports, knowledge and technologies is available to industry.

I wish you every success with in you seminar today and would like to thank our co organisers, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland for the opportunity to be with you today.