Down under in New Zealand, food safety is about to get a boost from something rarely heard of in America — a budget surplus. Prime Minister John Key, who’s been in charge in New Zealand’s government since 2008, is about to enjoy his first budget surplus of $86 million New Zealand dollars, or about $72.2 million in U.S. funds. Key says a host of food safety initiatives are at the top of his list for spending the extra money. “We will invest more in food safety and look to establish a center for food safety, science and research,” Key told the first sitting day of the NZ Parliament, which came in late January. The new center will receive a percentage of the $1.36 billion his government has allocated for a range of research initiatives. The commitment to food safety is part of Key’s plan to “build a more competitive and productive economy.” It follows the botulism crisis that turned out to be false, although it damaged the reputation of Fonterra, the nation’s giant dairy cooperative and major exporter. “The reputation of New Zealand’s food sector for quality and safety is critically important for our success as an exporting country,” Key says. “While the whey protein concentrate inquiry confirmed that our regulatory processes are among the best in the world, the government is committed to ensuring the system can respond to challenges that may lie ahead.” Government funds will go toward any recommendations from the inquiry into the Fonterra scare to help international markets regain confidence in New Zealand’s status as a premium food exporter. The government’s initial inquiry found New Zealand’s legal and best practice food safety requirements were not to blame for the incident. A subsequent investigation is supposed to look at what did cause the damaging incident and how it was addressed. That inquiry, however, is on hold until New Zealand’s Minister of Primary Industries completes its own compliance investigation.