As I contemplate my topic for this issue’s column, Labor Day is around the corner and I’m reflecting on this summer. Where did it go? What did I learn? How do I use this summer’s life experiences to my advantage?
My summer business travel came to mind. I attended two industry trade shows/conferences this summer that gave me the kinds of social and intellectual experiences that make life interesting.
My first industry trade show of the summer was the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Expo in Chicago. Around 21,500 food industry professionals attended this year. There were over 1,000 exhibitors and a terrific scientific program offering critical key focus program tracks that included quite a few food safety and defense sessions.
The IFT created a food safety and quality pavilion within the trade show floor several years ago. At the meeting, food safety and quality suppliers exhibited and offered attendees critical information and solutions.
More recently, I attended the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Annual Meeting in Anaheim. Almost 2,200 food industry professionals attended, with around 130 exhibitors and an outstanding program focused on a variety of topics relating to food safety and quality.
Both shows were tremendously substantive, informative, and personally fulfilling. I continue to take pleasure in being surrounded by the superstars of food safety and quality.
Both the IFT and the IAFP venues were outstanding, and the programs were phenomenal. I was able to see and talk with many old colleagues and meet new colleagues whose views and shared experiences made for an interesting perspective on how the industry should move ahead to make the world’s food supply the safest possible.
Next year’s IFT Expo will be held June 11-15 in the Big Easy, New Orleans. It will be a milestone for me—my 25th year attending IFT.
Next year’s IAFP annual meeting will take place July 31–August 3. The IAFP will be celebrating its 100th anniversary by holding the meeting in Milwaukee, Wis., where it started.
Both shows were tremendously substantive, informative, and personally fulfilling. I continue to take pleasure in being surrounded by the superstars of food safety and quality. These are the people who have dedicated their lives and careers to the noble maxims that it only takes one person to make a difference and that the industry has the capability to make the world’s food supply safer.
Both the IFT and IAFP staffs and countless volunteers should be thanked for all their hard work and the dedication that makes their events world class.
But despite my positive experiences at these meetings, I wonder if food safety and quality professionals value the information and networking opportunities these shows offer. And if they don’t attend, why not? Are they too busy? Have their travel budgets been cut? Countless reasons come to mind.
No matter what your excuse may have been, I urge you to reevaluate attending future IFT and IAFP meetings. The information presented is invaluable and the relationships and networking opportunities you will find will enhance your career and help you protect the global food supply.
Stop by the Food Quality booth and introduce yourself. I look forward to meeting you.
All the Best,