A first for food safety knowledge exchange

men in suits with food safety messages

11 October, 2011. safefood, the all-island agency responsible for promoting food safety and healthy eating today launched eight new knowledge exchange networks to promote the use of science-based knowledge to further enhance the integrity and reputation of the food supply on the island of Ireland.

By creating linkages between all the critical points of the food supply chain, the networks will enable greater knowledge sharing and application and ensure consumer expectations for a safe and healthy food supply can be met. The networks were officially launched at an event in Belfast today by Dr. Andrew McCormick, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. McCormick said “I welcome the opportunity to launch the safefood knowledge networks today. The integrity and reputation of food production depend on the application of good science, including inter-disciplinary collaboration and creative linkages. In developing these eight networks, safefood’s main objective has been to bring together those involved in creating and applying knowledge at all parts of the food chain, in order to support and enhance food safety.  They show how new technology and traditional person-to-person networking can come together to help secure gains in public health; a stronger reputation for food on the island of Ireland, and better prospects for those who work in the agri-food sector. I am pleased to note that since the beginning of 2011 more than 900 members have already joined.”

The safefood knowledge networks were launched at an event which explored the application and value of knowledge exchange across all sectors of the food chain and how and where this exchange can be applied for the greatest benefit. Speakers included experts in the fields of international food business, knowledge exchange and international technology transfer and Research & Development. 
Mr. Campbell Tweedie, Vice Chairman, safefood Advisory Board said

At safefood, we understand the importance placed by consumers in a secure food chain and the role played by all stakeholders in maintaining that confidence and reputation, both locally and globally. Our eight new knowledge networks will facilitate greater sharing of information and innovation among food safety professionals, will help maximise their existing resources to ensure greater value for money, ensuring knowledge exchange continues to play a central role in underpinning the integrity and reputation of the food supply chain on the island.”

The eight safefood knowledge networks are Food Allergy and Food Intolerance; Campylobacter; Cryptosporidium; Biotoxins; Chemical residues; Listeria; Salmonella and Verocytoxigenic E. coli (VTEC).
Mr Michael Walker, event speaker and Facilitator of the Food Allergy and Food Intolerance Network said; “Some 1% to 4% of adults and between 5% and 8% of children may have a food allergy, to the severe detriment of their quality of life and with the risk, though rare, of life-threatening anaphylaxis. Food intolerance is also a barrier to the modern quality of life we all have a right to expect.

The mission of our network is to improve the quality of life of those with food allergies or food intolerance and reduce the risk of anaphylaxis. We do this by facilitating cooperation and promoting exchange of knowledge about all aspects of food allergy and food intolerance. This will also help make it easier for food companies to supply safe food. We especially welcome consumers affected by these conditions to the network”, he added.

Prospective members can join the safefood knowledge networks by visiting www.safefood.ning.com, submitting their details and selecting which of the networks they would like to join.

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For further information please contact:

David Cullen
Tel: 028 9080 2000
M: 07919 598 710

Dermot Moriarty
Tel: +353 (0) 86 381 1034

Editor’s notes

Who can apply to join the networks?

The networks will appeal to food safety professionals from across the agri-food sector including:

  • Health professionals
  • Food industry personnel
  • Environmental health officers
  • Food surveillance professionals
  • Professional body members
  • Food safety researchers
  • Government and agency officials
  • Veterinarians
  • Trade body officials

Knowledge network facilitators 

Campylobacter Network

The Campylobacter Network is facilitated by Dr Declan Bolton, Teagasc Food Research Centre (Ashtown), Dublin.

Biotoxin Network

The Biotoxin Network is facilitated by Prof Chris Elliott, Institute of Agri-food and Land Use, Queen’s University Belfast.

Chemical Residues Network

The Chemical Residues Network is facilitated by Prof Chris Elliott, Institute of Agri-food and Land Use, Queen’s University Belfast.

Listeria Network

The Listeria Network is facilitated by Dr Kieran Jordan, Teagasc Food Research Centre (Moorepark) Fermoy Co.Cork.

Verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) Network

The VTEC Network is facilitated by Dr Geraldine Duffy, Teagasc Food Research Centre (Ashtown), Dublin.

Cryptosporidium Network

The Cryptosporidium Network is facilitated by Prof JR Rao, Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Belfast.

Salmonella Network

The Salmonella Network is facilitated by Prof Francis Butler, School of Agriculture, University College Dublin.

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance Network

The Food Allergy and Food Intolerance Network is facilitated by Mr Michael Walker, LGC Limited,

Network members

There are currently 1149 members* of the safefood networks

  • Campylobacter Network (164 members)
  • Biotoxins Network (179 members)
  • Chemical Residues Network (202 members)
  • Listeria Network (183 members)
  • VTEC Network (147 members)
  • Cryptosporidium Network (110 members)
  • Salmonella Network (69 members)
  • Food Allergy and Food Intolerance Network (95 members)

*Some network members have joined more than one network.