Food Safety ‘Icon’ New Chair of Food Safety Information Council

3 May 2007

Dr Michael Eyles is the new Chair of the Food Safety Information Council.

In announcing Dr Eyles’ election to the position, immediate past Council Chair, Professor Tom McMeekin, of the University of Tasmania’s Australian Food Safety Centre of Excellence, said “It is a coup to have a scientist, administrator and a person of Michael’s calibre to take on the role of leading the Council into its second decade.

“Michael is an icon in the food safety world both through his outstanding scientific contribution and his ability to translate his and others’ findings into messages easily adaptable to the food industry, as well as the home kitchen,” he said.

The Food Safety Information Council’s charter is to promote key food safety messages to consumer in order to counteract the 5.4 million cases of food borne disease suffered in Australia each year.

Dr Eyles is currently Director, Leadership and Cross-Organisation Development with CSIRO. Previous CSIRO positions have included Group Executive for Agribusiness and Health, Chief Executive of Food Science Australia, and Chief of the Division of Food Science and Technology.

He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Australian Society for Microbiology, and the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology.

Professor McMeekin said “Michael’s scientific credentials are outstanding, as is his experience in improving the quality of Australia’s food products and responding to new and emerging threats to food safety which began when he did his PhD in the early 70s on viruses in oysters following a large Norovirus outbreak in Sydney. His later research in food microbiology ranged from trouble shooting food industry problems, to investigations into growth of bacteria in vacuum packed foods.

“Added to this is his approach to leadership which is underpinned by a belief in the importance of teams and partnerships within the scientific community and strong engagement with its stakeholders.

“His promotion of food safety has included a range of innovations including as a member of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s Food Microbiology Group, devising courses in food hygiene for retailers and restaurateurs in local councils. These were the first attempts in Australia, outside of TAFE colleges, to train such people in food hygiene. Later, he was a key player in the production of a video kit called ‘Don’t Poison Your Patrons’ targeted at the restaurant industry – again a breakthrough activity.

“He will be a tremendous asset to the Food Safety Information Council,” Professor McMeekin said.

Media Contact: Lydia Buchtmann 0411268 525