The 19th annual Food Safety Summit, held May 9-11 in Rosemont, Ill., attracted 190 exhibiting companies and nearly 1,700 food safety professionals, including processors, distributors, growers, retailers, food service operators, regulators, and academicians. During the three-day event, held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, food safety professionals gathered to see the newest products/services to keep the nation’s food supply safe and learn about the most important issues facing the industry, including Listeria, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), food fraud, as well as case studies from recent foodborne illness outbreaks.
Dane Bernard, managing director for Bold Bear Food Safety, moderated the opening keynote presentation that included a variety of hot topics. A panel of industry experts discussed issues ranging from the implementation of FSMA, legal implications including litigation and the role of the Department of Justice to the impact of produce, foreign supplier verification, and intentional adulteration. Emphasis was placed on “root cause” versus “root source” when trying to find contamination that makes consumers sick.
The Summit offered a variety of education sessions that focused on the FSMA Produce Rule, home delivery, pathogens and allergens, second-party audits, supply chain management, food fraud, and menu labeling.
In addition, nearly 200 diverse vendors were featured in the exhibit hall, including ReposiTrak, which spoke about its MarketPlace solution that enables retailers and wholesalers to search ReposiTrak’s community of compliant suppliers. MarketPlace automates and guides the sourcing process from end-to-end, and includes supplier qualification, order negotiation, and onboarding of a new supplier. To help retailers and wholesalers reduce risk, it highlights suppliers that are compliant with their business and/or safety requirements.
Spraying Systems displayed its technology for applying antimicrobials and mold inhibitors as well as sanitizing and cleaning plant equipment. The company informed attendees how using spray technology to apply antimicrobials and mold inhibitors on food and in packaging can extend shelf life and provide pathogen protection.
Also on display was Neogen’s new NeoNet, a cloud-based software platform that enables food safety directors access, insight, and control on the effectiveness of their facilities’ sanitation programs. With NeoNet, each facility does routine adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, testing and transfers the results to their local computer networks. The data is then automatically synced to the customer’s universal NeoNet system to allow professionals immediate access to their facilities’ sanitation test results.
FoodLogiq, an SaaS provider of food safety compliance, traceablity, and supply chain transparency software solutions, discussed its new white paper, What Consumers Care About in the Age of Transparency. FoodLogiQ polled over 2,000 U.S. consumers to gauge their sentiment around food traceability and expectations for food companies regarding recalls and foodborne illness. Over 50 percent of respondents expect food companies to fully address a recall or foodborne illness within 1-2 days. With regard to transparency in labeling, 54 percent of respondents want as much information as possible on the label, and nearly 40 percent want country of origin, allergen alerts, and GMOs all identified on the label.
To mitigate the multidimensional dangers on the loading docks, including cargo theft and product tampering, Rite-Hite offered its pedestrian-Vu as a solution. It uses motion-sensing technology to trigger a bright blue light that projects onto the dock leveler when it detects a pedestrian’s presence inside the trailer. Outside the dock opening, from a fixed location above the dock door, the Approach-Vu sensor detects the motion of a tractor-trailer backing into a dock position.
Mettler Toledo delivered a presentation on how to proceed effectively with validating a metal detector. Validation of food safety inspection equipment, including metal detectors, has become a lively topic among food manufacturers and processors. The company addressed validating detection capability and validating system reject operation.
TEGAM introduced its 900 series thermometer at the Summit. The 93X models are Bluetooth low energy technology-enabled handheld thermometers that offer data logging, storage, and transmission out-of-the-box. The 91X features a 2,000-hour battery life, along with necessary durability to handle food processing environments.
In addition, Steritech offered insights into its specialized assessment programs that provide objective, yet positive, experiences that can educate on the “how” and “why” behind brand standards to help mitigate risk.
Also during the Summit, SQF Institute and Alchemy Systems organized a field trip for the press to get a first-hand look at how food companies around the Chicago area are exhibiting ther committed to a food safety culture. Chicago-mainstays Vanee Foods and Eli’s Cheesecake both provided behind-the-scenes looks of their operations and demonstrated how a successful commitment to food safety begins with top management. Both companies are leading by example with their dedication to adhering to certification programs and continual training—putting a lot of what was showcased on the Food Safety Summit exhibit hall into practice.
The last day of the Summit featured a town hall moderated by Gary Ades, president of G&L Consulting and chairman of the Summit Educational Advisory Board. Panelists AFDO’s Joe Corby, CDC’s Dr. Robert Tauxe, MPH, USDA’s Al Almanza, and FDA’s Stephen Ostroff discussed how the agencies are working together on food safety initiatives and new developments such as whole genome sequencing. “The basis of sound regulation is sound science,” commented Ostroff.
If you missed this year’s event, plans are already being made for the 2018 Food Safety Summit, which will again be held in Rosemont from May 8 through May 10, 2018, with pre-conference certification courses starting on Monday, May 7.