Coastal and Freshwater news

Dr Rhodes receiving the award at the NZIFST conference gala dinner
6 July 2017

MPI presents the first Significant Contribution to Food Safety Award

Yesterday evening, Cawthron Senior Scientist Dr Lesley Rhodes CNZM received the inaugural Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Award for Significant Contribution to Food Safety, at the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST) Conference dinner.

The Significant Contribution to Food Safety Award recognises originality, effectiveness, and impact in the field of food safety. It was presented to Dr Rhodes by Minister of Food Safety David Bennett, who first met the scientist during his tour of Cawthron earlier in the day.

Dr Rhodes giving Minister Bennett a tour of Cawthron Institute Culture Collection of Microalgae

Dr Rhodes was instrumental in establishing food safety monitoring programmes which help ensure the viability of New Zealand’s $300 Million per annum shellfish exports. She also introduced efficient and cost effective molecular and chemical based monitoring programmes; allowing the use of animals to be eliminated from shellfish food safety testing.

Dr Rhodes sets a high standard for future recipients, having made a significant contribution to seafood safety. The research programme she established at Cawthron is an exemplar for facilitating trusted collaboration and engagement between industry, researchers, and regulators. This included enabling the development of monitoring programmes based on rapid, effective analytical methods, delivering economic gains for industry and access to export markets.

Analytical Services Group Manager Nico van Loon said Dr Rhodes is highly regarded internationally.

"Lesley’s contribution to food safety is global; she has worked closely with researchers in Europe, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, USA, Australia, Hong Kong, and many more.

"She’s also published over 100 papers in international journals. This influenced monitoring standards and policy development, resulting in improved seafood safety standards both here and abroad," said Mr van Loon.

Recently the science community showed their appreciation for Dr Rhodes by naming a newly discovered species of dinoflagellate after her. The dinoflagellate was found in Queensland and named Ostreopsis rhodesae.

Ostreopsis rhodesae sp. nov. 
Photo credit: Hoppernrath, M. from Verma et al., 2016 "Molecular and phylogenetic characterization of Ostreopsis (Dinophyceae) and the description of a new species, Ostreopsis rhodesae sp. nov., from a subtropical Australian lagoon" published in Harmful Algae

The NZIFST conference was well-attended, with over 300 participants from across the food industry in Nelson for the three day event. Appropriately, this is the first time in 20 years the conference has been held at the Top of the South; home of Dr Rhodes and Cawthron. Also fitting is the synergy between the NZIFST conference theme ‘produced locally, consumed globally, shaping the future’, and the world class work of Cawthron Institute.

CE Prof. Charles Eason, Dr Lesley Rhodes, Augusta van Wijk, and Dr Tim Harwood.
NZIFST conference gala dinner.