Moz­zarella man wins dairy award

Marlborough Express - - FOOD - GER­ARD HUTCHING

The Kiwi who pi­o­neered the tech­nique of rapidly man­u­fac­tur­ing moz­zarella has been feted at the In­ter­na­tional Dairy Fed­er­a­tion’s (IDF) re­cent sum­mit.

Keith Johnston, prin­ci­pal re­search tech­nol­o­gist at Fon­terra, was awarded the IDF Prize of Ex­cel­lence for his out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the work of the IDF.

Johnston re­tired in Au­gust af­ter 47 years of ser­vice to the New Zealand dairy in­dus­try.

While the IDF recog­nised him for his work on Codex cheese stan­dards, he is best known as the ‘‘moz­zarella man’’ who worked with the team that pro­duced a sta­ble cheese that could be eaten within hours of man­u­fac­ture.

As a re­sult Fon­terra built a $240 mil­lion plant at Clan­de­boye, in South Can­ter­bury. It now ex­ports enough moz­zarella to top half the piz­zas (about 300 mil­lion) made in China each year.

Jeremy Hill, Fon­terra’s chief sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer, said Johnston had made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to Fon­terra and the New Zealand dairy in­dus­try.

‘‘Most of us who’ve had moz­zarella on a pizza will be thank­ful that his pas­sion for sci­ence re­sulted in him cham­pi­oning Fon­terra’s in­no­va­tive moz­zarella tech­nol­ogy, from its cre­ation, through to patent­ing and com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion. Today, Fon­terra’s moz­zarella plant runs 24 hours a day.’’

‘‘Be­yond his day job, for the past 15 years, KJ has played a crit­i­cal role in help­ing con­sumers across the world have greater ac­cess to dairy prod­ucts through the de­vel­op­ment of sen­si­ble stan­dards and reg­u­la­tions,’’ Hill said.

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