Food safety in the NSW Oyster industry

This project will improve the efficiency and transparency of food safety regulation of the NSW Oyster industry by combining industry leading research with state-of-the-art sensing to enable real-time water quality testing.

In Partnership With:

NSW Department of Primary Industries
University of Technology Sydney
The Yield Technology Solutions Pty Ltd

Food safety in the NSW Oyster industry

The Challenge:

NSW oysters’ reputation as some of the safest and tastiest may be attributed, in part, to the strong relationship that exists between oyster farmers and their regulator. The NSW Food Authority is vigilant about consumer safety. It stops oyster harvesting after heavy rainfall events, as run-off into the oyster-growing estuaries can lower salinity and trigger the growth of potentially harmful pathogens. Oysters are filter feeders, meaning they may pick up any contaminants and could pass them on to consumers.

Currently operations can’t reopen until testing confirms that water quality is okay for harvesting, but current methods use offsite laboratories in a process that can take up to seven days. This means oyster leases may be closed unnecessarily, costing farmers up to $100,000 a day in lost revenues.

The oyster industry needs a faster, more accurate means of testing water quality and safety.

The Solution:

Real-time water quality sensing combined with breakthrough molecular techniques and data-fuelled models, will enable the development of new digital tools that improve regulatory procedures and help farmers improve harvest management.

State-of-the-art sensors designed by The Yield have been deployed across key oyster-producing regions of NSW, collecting real-time environmental data. Water metrics, such as temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen, are then being tracked by UTS researchers and mapped alongside water samples collected regularly by participating farmers.

Correlations that are identified between key environmental metrics and water contaminants will form models to enable real-time closure regulation and power the development of new digital management tools for the industry.

The first stage of this project was a series of farmer engagement workshops and sensor installations which took place in June 2018. The key takeaways from these workshops can be viewed at

To get involved:

Please contact us at

meet the team

Arjun Verma

Research student at the University of Technology Sydney

As. Prof. Shauna Murray

Associate Professor at the School of Life Science at the University of Technology Sydney.

Read As. Prof. Murray's profile.

Dr Penelope Ajani

Research Fellow at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney.

Read Dr Ajani's profile.

Hazel Farrell

Shellfish Operations Officer NSW Shellfish Program at New South Wales Government (DPI NSW)


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