Project Scope


FoodSafe is a MBIE funded research programme aimed at developing near real time devices to assess food safety in situ.


Food safety is critical to New Zealand’s global reputation as a food producer. Current methods for detecting bacteria in food require a laboratory and take days to get results. The delays lead to huge waste for exporters as well as health risks to consumers – since food poisoning sends thousands of people to hospital each year and can kill. But using novel laser and photonics technologies, we have developed a totally new method of testing for bacteria in any fluid. Our invention can give a result in 20 minutes, not 3 days – no lab needed.

In the future, when it is used by the NZ meat industry, it will save many millions of dollars each year. The benefits of our research include reducing the cost of wastage to food producers, improving food safety, and extending the shelf-life of perishable food products such as fish and dairy by several days. These gains will create huge value for NZ food producers and exporters. Our device will be developed, commercialised, and exported by an innovative NZ company specialising in such sensors.

Our commercialisation partner, Veritide Ltd, will take our cutting-edge R&D in microbiology and microfluidics and translate it into a device that can be exported to the global market. Meat producer ANZCO and laboratory AsureQuality will also assist us with this development.


Dr Frederique Vanholesbeeck

Science Leader - Physicist


Diana Whiting

Programme Manager


Assoc Prof Simon Swift




Dr Cushla McGoverin

Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Prof Cather Simpson



Janesha Perera

Microbiology Technician



Dr Craig Tuffnell

Chief Technical Officer

Veritide Ltd

Dr Scott Choi


Veritide Ltd


Fang (Rachel) Ou

PhD student


Claire Honney

PhD student


Joni White

BSc student


Olivier Graffeuille

BE student


Implementation Advisory Group


The IAG is an important mechanism to ensure the research delivers the specific results end-users seek in a commercially relevant form.   Panellists were selected for their strong sector knowledge and business expertise and meet twice every year. 


  • Richard McColl (Chair), Innovation Programme Manager - Meat Industry Association 

  • Craig Fowles, Technical Manager - ANZCO Foods

  • Cathy Webb, Seafood Standards Manager - Seafood NZ Ltd 

  • Dr Harry van Enckevort, Chief Science Officer - AsureQuality

  • Dr Craig Tuffnell, Chief Technical Officer - Veritide Ltd 

  • Craig Raniera Ellison, Chair Ngai Tahu Seafood, Director Aotearoa Fisheries Limited & Sealord Group Limited

  • Dr Helen Withers, Senior Advisor (Microbiology), Ministry of Primary Industries



Physics Department

The University of Auckland

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