Health and food sciences precinct

Site details

Research facility nameHealth and Food Sciences Precinct
Research facility addressBlocks 10-12, 39 Kessels Road, Coopers Plains QLD 4108
Telephone(07) 3708 8785
Coordinates (GPS at office)27°33'30''S,153°02'41''E
ClimateSubtropical with cool, dry winters

Site overview

The Health and Food Sciences Precinct is located at Coopers Plains, approximately 20 minutes from Brisbane’s central business district at the Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services campus.

The precinct hosts 150 scientists from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and The University of Queensland through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI). Another 550 are co-located on the Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services campus. Due to the nature of services on the site it has a high level of security both for entry to the facility and within the facility.


General facilities

The Health and Food Sciences Precinct consists of 3 buildings on the Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services campus. The buildings are a mix of office and laboratory accommodation, including meeting rooms.

Specialised infrastructure

Controlled environments

  • Freezer rooms
  • Cold rooms
  • Controlled temperature rooms
  • Pilot plant—food development and production area with an extensive range of food-grade processing equipment for handling seafood, meat, dairy and horticulture products

Laboratories, processing facilities and meeting rooms

  • Laboratories—general, PC2, PC3, QAP accredited and NATA accredited
  • Meeting rooms
  • Necropsy room
  • Fish tank room
  • Sensory evaluation area

Services and capabilities

Testing and developing food and beverage products

Queensland businesses that design and manufacture food and beverages can use the ‘food zone’ to develop and test new products (available to public and private research organisations through collaborative research projects) that is Safe Food Queensland accredited. The food zone is a single location for small-scale production, initial development, reformulation and consumer testing of food and beverage products.

Facilities include:

  • 1400m2 of Safe Food Queensland and DAF-accredited food research and processing plant with over 120 individual food processing units including freeze drier, spray drier, membrane filtration, thermal processing including UHT and pasteurisers.
  • Five flexible layout processing areas within the pilot plant with plug and use service droppers providing steam, compressed air, RO water, chilled water and hot water. The 5 areas are:
    • general processing
    • high-hygiene cool room for fresh-product handling
    • thermal processing and drying room
    • warm room for thermal operation or fermentation
    • high-hygiene cold room for meat processing.
  • The food pilot plant can produce trial product under industrial conditions in batches of up to 1000 litres.
  • Food technology laboratory.
  • Sensory and consumer testing facility, including 10 individual sensory-evaluation booths.

Food-zone scientists and staff regularly work with small and medium sized manufacturing businesses, industry associations and other research organisations to:

  • develop product prototypes
  • reformulate products
  • understand and test the market for food and beverage products
  • optimise processing protocols, including post-harvest handling, storage conditions, packaging and production of value-added products.\

Biosecurity monitoring of chemical residues in food

The Natural Toxins Laboratory monitors chemical residues in food, protecting consumers and the market access of Queensland primary producers and food manufacturers.

The laboratory’s primary activities include:

  • investigating and developing analytical methods to detect plant toxins
  • identifying and characterising new natural toxins
  • investigating and analysing mycotoxins
  • assessing risks relating to natural toxins.

The Chemical Residue Laboratory works closely with the Natural Toxins Laboratory and is NATA Accredited (ISO 17025) for antibiotic and pesticide residues in food.

The laboratory’s primary activities include:

  • detecting antibiotic residues in meat, offal, urine and animal feed
  • detecting pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables, animal tissues and meat fat
  • providing cattle-dip testing services for amitraz, cypermethrin/chlorfenvinphos and deltamethrin/ethion dips
  • conducting diagnostic investigations of pesticides in wildlife mortalities.

The laboratory accepts samples from private enterprise when no reasonable private laboratory can do the testing, or there is a public benefit involved.

Fees are determined by the nature of the work required and prices are provided based on specific requests. The ability to do fee-for-service testing depends on the laboratory’s capacity.

Veterinary diagnostic testing

The Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory conducts veterinary (land and aquatic) diagnostic testing and is NATA accredited (ISO 17025) and Veterinary Testing Accredited (13389).

The laboratory’s primary areas of work are:

  • Queensland-wide identification and investigation of new and emerging diseases
  • surveillance and diagnosis of diseases in Queensland’s livestock industries
  • national laboratory screening for mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE)
  • active surveillance programs for arboviruses (insect-transmitted viruses) of cattle, sheep and horses, such as bluetongue virus and bovine ephemeral fever (three-day sickness)
  • diseases of aquatic animals farmed in the subtropics and tropics such as barramundi, fin fish, prawns, oysters, crabs, scallops and sea cucumber
  • veterinary pathologists with a special interest in plants toxic to animals including a natural toxicants database
  • testing cattle tick (Rhipicephalus (Boophilusmicroplus) for resistance to acaricides (chemicals) used for its control
  • testing for pathogens of the apiary industry, including surveillance to detect possible incursion of exotic mites, especially varroa species
  • participation in projects of importance to livestock industries such as bovine Johne’s disease and reproductive loss in cattle
  • research projects to develop new molecular diagnostic methods for a range of uses, especially relating to exotic disease preparedness
  • molecular genetics research and diagnostic testing to management and eradication of invasive pests and animals.