Food safety and innovation

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Food Safety and Innovation Science Program addresses the increasing need for:

  • transparent, scientifically objective risk assessment approaches in the food industry
  • quality research to underpin the objectives of public health legislation and market access health criteria
  • innovative technologies for process optimisation and value-adding throughout the supply chain.

The program supports public health and the economic development of agri-food industries.

We offer scientific and technical expertise covering all steps in the ‘farm to fork’ food production chain.

We aim to reduce the public health food-borne disease burden, and improve profitability of food industries by:

  • developing cost-effective food safety systems throughout the supply chain that reflect the degree of risk
  • identifying food-borne hazard contamination in production and processing environments, and options for control 
  • developing tools for risk ranking product : hazard combinations to guide risk management
  • developing new technologies to maintain food quality after harvest.

Key areas of expertise

  • food microbiology and molecular biology
  • novel diagnostics for food safety hazards
  • risk analysis
  • trade and market access
  • marine biotoxins
  • new product development
  • product integrity and quality
  • value-adding
  • sensory evaluation
  • innovations in packaging
  • shelf-life extension
  • functional foods
  • process control and optimisation (quality systems and improved production)
  • cold chain management and logistics
  • extraction of value from waste products
  • food chain statistical services
  • predictive models.

This program has 5 interacting research platforms and associated specialised services:

  • Seafood
  • Food Innovation
  • Risk Analysis
  • Food Microbiology and Molecular Biology
  • Statistical Services.


This subprogram aims to protect the health of seafood consumers and secure Australia’s position as a trusted seafood supplier. 

Download the Food Safety and Innovation Seafood Capability Statement (PDF 262.8 KB).

Our research focusses on maximising the post-harvest value and commercial competitiveness of Australian seafood industries by:

  • developing new products
  • enhancing product quality
  • improving cold chain and processing efficiencies.

Current research includes:

  • SafeFish – a partnership of seafood experts, addressing food safety issues in seafood impacting on trade and market access
  • conducting prevalence survey of norovirus and Hepatitis A virus in oysters
  • developing risk assessment and risk management options for marine biotoxins in abalone and rock lobster
  • developing novel diagnostics for the identification and enumeration of norovirus in oysters
  • risk ranking seafood commodities
  • maximising shelf-life of various seafood commodities through packaging technologies
  • managing the Oyster Product Development Innovation project.

Subprogram contact

Alison Turnbull
Phone: (08) 8303 9623

Food Innovation

This subprogram provides technical support to food businesses to improve product quality and increase the competitive advantage of existing food industries.

Download the Food Innovation Capability Statement (PDF 238.4 KB).

Our research scope includes:

  • product development including shelf-life and packaging
  • sensory evaluation
  • process improvement including equipment and packaging
  • product quality improvement including
    • ingredients
    • product composition
    • shelf-life
    • product analysis
    • food safety
    • allergens
    • nutrition information panels.

Research projects have included:

  • supporting the development of a fermented tea drink
  • investigating consumer acceptability of pork sensory attributes
  • testing shelf-life of a vacuum packaged ready-to-eat vegetable product
  • investigating utilisation of finfish processing wastes
  • conducting sensory assessment of potato varieties using different cooking techniques.

Subprogram contact

Dr Tom Madigan
Phone: (08) 8303 9421

Risk Analysis

Our risk analysis services help existing and emerging industries effectively manage food safety and related market access issues.

Download the Food Safety and Innovation Risk Analysis Capability Statement (PDF 232.9 KB).

We have provided risk analysis expertise covering production to consumption for various industries and industry bodies, including:

  • sheep
  • beef
  • pork and chicken meat
  • seafood
  • horticultural products covering microbial, chemical and physical hazards.

Research focus has included:

  • risk assessment of biotoxins in rock lobster and abalone
  • risk ranking of biotoxins in seafood
  • risk assessment model for the egg industry
  • risk profile for the Australian red meat industry
  • risk-based evaluation of pork production.


Alison Turnbull
Phone: (08) 8303 9623

Food Microbiology and Molecular Biology

We provide a testing facility in traditional and molecular microbiology for researchers and industry clients. Testing at our facility is cost-effective and complies with the Australian and international standards.

We have developed testing protocols for a range of food commodities and processing environments. These can be modified to address unique product characteristics and developmental needs.

Download the Food Safety and Innovation Microbiology and Molecular Biology Capability Statement (PDF 171.9 KB) 

We provide additional services such as:

  • shelf-life testing
  • advice on testing protocols
  • research methodologies.

Our research focus is diverse and includes:

  • conducting microbiological survey of retail meat products
  • assessing stock-feed for prevalence of Salmonella
  • assessing shelf-life and food safety of packaged products
  • investigating food-borne viruses in fresh produce
  • developing novel biosensors for viruses in seafood.


Geoffrey Holds
Phone: (08) 8303 9765

Dr Valeria Torok
Phone: (08) 8303 9688

Statistical Services

SARDI Food Statistical Services provides specialist risk assessment and research capabilities applicable to all food commodities and industry sectors. Our team provides integral statistical and research expertise for our research program and food industries.

Download the Food Safety and Innovation Statistical Services Capability Statement (PDF 241.6 KB) 

Our statistical services have applications over a range of industries and include:

  • experimental and survey design for sensory, scientific experiments and other studies
  • statistical modelling and analysis of data to assess and interpret results
  • simulation studies and quantitative risk assessments to inform risk management decisions
  • provision of statistical training and workshops.

A selection of research projects are:

  • statistical process control of hygiene and hazards in the red meat industry
  • experimental design and data analysis of pork sensory trials
  • analysis of microbiological data and generation of reports for meat establishments
  • process modelling and simulation, and predictive models of a processing chain
  • statistical analysis of marine biotoxins levels in abalone.


Jessica Tan
Phone: (08) 8303 9771

We work closely with the Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) Food Safety program.

General enquiries

Plant Research Centre, Waite Campus
Gate 2b, Hartley Grove, Urrbrae
South Australia 5064

Phone: (08) 8303 9771
Fax: (08) 8303 9424

Page Last Reviewed: 06 Feb 2015
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