Dr Rob Lake’s long career in food safety has seen him awarded the 2023 Significant Contribution to Food Safety Award, sponsored by New Zealand Food Safety, at the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST) Awards last night.
"New Zealand Food Safety is pleased to present the Significant Contribution to Food Safety Award to Dr Rob Lake. He has contributed immensely to food safety in New Zealand over his career," said New Zealand Food Safety acting deputy director-general Jenny Bishop.
"His leadership of countless food safety, foodborne illness, and food hygiene projects have made a real impact to New Zealand’s food safety system and understanding of foodborne illness.
"Aotearoa New Zealand has a robust food safety system, which is made stronger by studies and research like that conducted by Dr Lake. His ongoing work helps New Zealanders to be confident that the food they eat is safe and suitable."
Dr Lake has made many contributions to food safety across his 35-year career, both in New Zealand and internationally.
He is a highly respected scientist whose research, particularly in estimating the burden of various foodborne illnesses, has helped New Zealand Food Safety effectively prioritise their resources.
He led the 2006/07 acute gastrointestinal illness study, which has become an important public health tool.
He has also led the national study on campylobacteriosis, the outcome of which has been key in developing risk-management activities that are expected to greatly reduce the impact of campylobacteriosis on New Zealand’s health system and vulnerable people.
Because of his extensive experience, the World Health Organization invited Dr Lake to work with them on studies on campylobacteriosis and the worldwide burden of foodborne illness.
Previous award winners include Plant and Food’s Food Safety and Preservation team, who won in 2022 for their work in identifying microbiological food safety risks in kiwifruit and apple agencies, and risks from Vibrio organisms in shellfish.
In 2021, the award was won by Denver McGregor from New Zealand King Salmon for his work in maintaining a strong food safety culture within the company, and his contributions to the management of Listeria monocytogenes in the field.
"Dr Lake and the other nominees and winners from this and previous years show the innovation and work that go into maintaining the world-class food safety system we have in New Zealand," said Ms Bishop.
"New Zealand Food Safety is proud we can help to recognise and celebrate the important work being done in the field of food safety by so many New Zealanders."