Joseph Ekman is Fresh Produce Group’s Technical Director, responsible for leading the team responsible for food safety and quality compliance, product technology and quality control. His role is to provide technical security for Fresh Produce Group’s diverse and innovative fresh produce programs.
With an honors degree in postharvest management of fresh produce and 28 years of research, extension and industry experience, Joe brings a unique blend of theoretical and practical knowledge to his role.
Joe has extensive knowledge, skills and sector experience in on-farm and supply chain food safety, quality and environmental issues. Joe is a qualified food safety trainer and auditor. He is a founding member of the national horticulture industry working group that researched, designed and delivered fresh produce sector food safety guidelines and contributed to the design and development of the Freshcare on-farm food safety program.
Joe’s history in research, extension and technology transfer roles plus direct industry experience means he understands the opportunities and challenges for identifying risks and translating scientific research into industry practice.
Dr Roz Deaker is a lecturer in Rhizobiology and Biological Nitrogen Fixation in the Department of Plant and Food Science at the University of Sydney. A microbiologist specializing in beneficial plant-microbe interactions and microbial inoculant technology, Roz completed a BSc at the University of Sydney followed by a Dip Ed at Macquarie University. Roz joined the faculty as a research assistant in the 1990s and then pursued further study leading to an MSc Agr and a PhD. Roz is an active member of the Pulsford Laboratory in the faculty where her research covers aspects of the microbial inoculant supply chain from formulation, quality and shelf life to application and conditions that contribute to efficacy in the field. Her research seeks to gain a fundamental understanding of microbial growth and survival in different inoculant formulations and subsequent tolerance to variable environmental conditions. Assessment of risk to human and environmental health is also critical to the safe use of microbial products. She is also the industry and research liaison for the Australian Inoculant Research Group (AIRG) responsible for quality control of legume inoculants, has strong links to the microbial inoculant industry and has authored several industry technical reports. Development of a legume inoculant quality trademark and code of practice to indicate product integrity to the market was one of the major achievements of this collaboration.
Matthew Dolan is a Business Manager responsible for food safety and environment at Horticulture New Zealand, based in Wellington. He is responsible for food safety policy and market assurance programmes. His role includes liaison with regulators and industry organisations, on issues relating to food safety standards and quality assurance systems. He is also the manager of the New Zealand GAP programme and the New Zealand Agrichemical Education Trust. With a degree in horticultural science and over 20 years experience in the Fresh Produce industry, Matt has worked in production, postharvest and quality management roles in New Zealand and in Europe.
In his current role, Matt participates a number of industry advisory groups and works with a number of industry product groups, across a range of crops, to promote improvements in food safety and to ensure awareness of changes in industry and regulatory standards.
Graham Fletcher leads the Food Safety and Preservation research team in the Seafood Technologies portfolio of the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited. Plant & Food Research is a New Zealand-based science company providing research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and seafood products. Their goal is to underpin the growth of plant and marine-based industry through the successful application and commercialisation of research-based innovation. Graham’s team works on the safety of seafood and horticultural products as well as other aspects of post harvest seafood processing and preservation. The author of over 60 peer reviewed scientific publications, Graham currently leads research programmes which study Listeria monocytogenes, pathogenic Vibrio species, high pressure processing and other non-thermal processing methods, modified atmosphere packaging, antimicrobial packaging as well as other aspects of quality assessment and shelf life.
Scott Ledger has 40 years experience working with horticulture businesses to improve knowledge and practices. His experience spans a wide range of crops, covering aspects such as technology development, monitoring and improving supply chain handling systems, implementing quality and food safety systems and developing pathways for access to export markets.
In 2012, he retired from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Queensland Government (DAFF QLD) after 38 years service. His last role was leader of the Supply Chain Innovation R&D team within the Horticulture and Forestry Science Group.
Scott and colleagues established the Hort VC Group in 2012. The company goal is to help horticulture businesses to improve knowledge and skills along the whole value chain from production to retail and strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of the chains.
Scott has worked with an Australia-wide network of technical experts since 1995 to help the Australian horticulture industry develop and implement on-farm assurance programs. This has included developing guidelines for approved supplier programs and on-farm food safety and developing and delivering training courses for farmers. The network was responsible for developing the original version of the Freshcare Code of Practice and the second revision of the Code, and the training course materials used for farmer training for the Freshcare program.
Scott was a member of the project team that worked with representatives of the 10 ASEAN member countries to develop a voluntary standard for ASEAN Good Agriculture Practice, and delivered a training course on ASEAN GAP for trainers from each country. This AusAID project was an initiative of the Australian ASEAN Development Cooperative Program.
Prakash Pathak is the National Quality Assurance Manager at MGroup (Moraitis) Pty Ltd, where he leads the team for continuous improvement in food safety, quality and compliance. His main area of interest and expertise is in food safety systems such as HACCP, WQA and SQF.
He has over 10 years of QA experience within various food industries in Australia and overseas. Prakash has leadership and management experience, strategic QA vision with a proven track record of significant and successful contribution to quality & food safety management systems, project management, process improvement, product development, supplier management and compliance. He has extensive experience and demonstrated ability to mentor quality assurance teams to implement latest QA technology for improving food safety, quality and customer satisfaction.
With experience in a multinational environment, including Coca Cola and several high risk food industries, Prakash holds a Graduate Degree in Food Science and Technology and Master Degree in Management Accounting.
Dr Craig Shadbolt is Manager of the Food Incident Response and Complaints Unit with the NSW Food Authority, Australia’s only through-chain food safety agency with regulatory responsibility from paddock-to-plate. Craig has been with the NSW Food Authority since 2004 and has over 10 years experience in ensuring that outbreaks of foodborne disease and other food hazards are managed effectively to prevent harm to human health and limit damage to the food industry. This has led to Craig’s involvement in the fresh produce sector at various levels from on-farm through to manufacturing and retail/foodservice, in both incident response capacity and industry awareness campaigns.
Prior to joining the NSW Food Authority, Craig was employed in 2001 in a scientific advisory role with the Commonwealth Department of Health, Food Safety and Surveillance Unit. In this role Craig was responsible for advice and development of food policy and regulation, as well as involvement in the operation of OzFoodNet, Australia’s national surveillance system for detection and investigation of foodborne disease outbreaks.
Craig has a BSc Hons (1998) and PhD in Food Microbiology (2004) from the University of Tasmania, specialising in survival and inactivation of E. coli under different environmental conditions.