Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity director Helen
Darling says there has been a very positive response to the
initiative. Photo by Linda Robertson
Getting safe food to market is the objective of the Asia
Pacific Centre for Food Integrity.
Otago woman and food integrity consultant Dr Helen Darling
came up with the concept of working with food producers
across the whole supply chain.
While there were very good science providers in New Zealand,
food producers often found it hard to know who to go to and
how to get their product to market, she said.
Talking to food and beverage small and medium-sized
enterprises, she found the audit burden was ''huge'' for
them, if they wanted to get their product in the export
The centre planned to help mitigate upstream risks associated
with procurement of ingredients, processing risks,
transportation and trade risks, assisting producers and
exporters to become market ready, to know who to talk to
before and during production and through the export and
''It's about packaging up what New Zealand does well and
doing it in a way that's usable by producers but also
recognisable by consumers,'' she said.
Dr Darling, who is a director of the Asia Pacific Centre for
Food Integrity, left Oritain Global, the pioneering company
of which she was founding chief executive last year, and
launched her own consultancy business, Darling and
She described the virtual centre's establishment as a
''win-win'' and she was enjoying working with ''some pretty
The team included the likes of Dr Geoff Allen, a veterinary
epidemiologist who has worked extensively in animal disease
control, exotic diseases, veterinary public hygiene and
public health areas, as well as the food production and
export industry; David Mace, who has a consulting practice in
Hong Kong advising corporate and business clients on Asian
strategy; and Jo Coughlan, who has more than 25 years
experience in the government and public relations, and
strategic communications sector.
Dr Darling said they were not replicating what regulators
did. Regulators had their own very distinct area of work and
they were ''everything else''.
It was all about rebuilding New Zealand's brand.
''We have do to something, it has to be cohesive,
co-ordinated and commercial,'' she said.
The country had survived some food safety scares, but how
many more it would survive, she did not know. New Zealand's
brand was damaged every time something bad happened, she
The centre was starting with some pilot studies and working
with four clients, looking at what data was available, what
they required and where there were gaps or weaknesses in
their supply chain.
Clients would get as much future proofing as they could
''We're monitoring for emerging trends, giving them the
heads-up so they are always one step ahead,'' she said.
It would be developing recognition of a brand of integrity
and it should also be beneficial to New Zealand science
There had been a very positive response to the initiative,
and there was a lot of interest in China about what they were
doing. The model being created could be taken into other
markets, as well, and the potential was very significant, she