Food Safety Summit May 6-9, 2025
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Food Safety Summit

Food Safety Summit 2020 recap: Virtual summit hosts educational offerings for all

Virtual Food Safety Summit attracts 1100 industry professionals

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The first-ever Virtual Food Safety Summit occurred last week, from Monday, October 19 through Thursday, October 22. 

Even though this is the first year that Summit went virtual, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it still went off without a hitch. All of the content is available On-Demand through April 2021 at the Virtual Portal at

For the past four days, hundreds of food safety professionals logged in and tuned into The Virtual Food Safety Summit education program, visited with exhibitors in the Expo Hall and networked through the virtual platform. During the event, leading subject matter experts shared their insights on the most pressing topics from the impact of COVID-19 on the food supply, to the importance of focusing on the consumer, and potential criminal exposure for a company in relation to an outbreak. 

“A big thank you to all of our speakers, attendees and exhibitors who participated in our virtual event. We missed the opportunity of being together this year but the engagement on the virtual platform far exceeded our expectations,” said Scott Wolters, chief events officer, BNP Media. “We had great attendance in our education sessions and the exhibitors were able to connect with customers through the portal. The importance of education and networking for food safety professionals was discussed throughout the conference and we are happy we were able to provide this community with a stellar program. All of the sessions are available on-demand through April 2021.”

The event kicked off on Monday, October 19 with an opening session COVID-19: The New Normal for the Food Industryfeaturing eight of the best and brightest in food safety who shared what worked and did not over the last eight months and how they are preparing their organizations for the future. The speakers included Lee-Ann Jaykus of North Carolina State University who provided the background and science of the pandemic. She presented emerging scientific evidence about COVID-19, and mentioned that age is a risk factor for more severe illnesses, although young children can be a driving force because of asymptomatic shedding. Glenn Stolowski of H-E-B and Craig Wilson of Costco gave the retailer perspective, Jorge Hernandez of Wendy’s provided the foodservice angle, Joan Menke-Schaenzer of Van Drunen Farms provided the manufacturing perspective and Steve Mandernach of AFDO gave the regulatory insight. The group then reconvened for a follow up session where they reviewed the common themes discussed in the four breakout sessions. 

Will Daniels, president, Produce Division, IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group made the case in the keynote address for the importance of food safety professionals going Back to Basics: Consumer Focused Food Safety. In a passionate and honest presentation, Will discussed how in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, food manufacturers have stood up to the challenge of performing as an essential business and have shown the world how well this industry attempts to respond to a crisis; working together to maintain a safe work environment for the employee while producing safe food.

Prior to the keynote, Sarah Krol, senior managing director, Global Supply Chain Food Safety, NSF International presented Dr. Jennifer McEntire, senior vice president of food safety and technology at the United Fresh Produce Association, with the Food Safety Leadership Award. Dr. McEntire developed United Fresh’s Produce Safety Immersion program to help accelerate the education and careers of aspiring food safety professionals.  NSF International’s Food Safety Leadership Award recognizes individuals and organizations for real and lasting improvements in food safety. Nominations were evaluated by the Food Safety Summit Educational Advisory Board.

During the 9th Annual Town Hall AFDO's Steve Mandernach; CDC's Dr. Robert Tauxe; USDA's Paul Kiecker; and FDA's Frank Yiannas shared the screen and gave an overview of how each organization has responded to COVID-19 and what progress has been made over the past year. The Town Hall was moderated by Gary Ades, president of G&L Consulting and Chairman of the Summit’s Educational Advisory Board. 

The Summit concluded with a dynamic mock trial featuring Shawn Stevens and Joel Chapelle from Food Industry Counsel LLC. During the session—Foodborne Illness Outbreak Mock Criminal Trial - A View from the Jury Box—Shawn and Joel presented arguments for the audience who were the jury to decide if the fictitious Lynn White, V.P. of Food Safety, for a company that caused a Listeria outbreak, should be criminally convicted after 26 people were sickened and a child died.  Attendees learned about the scope of potential criminal exposure a company may face if their products are associated with an outbreak and then voted whether to convict or acquit Ms. White who was found guilty by a tally of 58 percent to 42 percent not guilty.

The virtual expo hall featured dozens of exhibitors showcasing the newest products and services for the food safety industry including Gold Sponsor Purell and Bronze Sponsor Eliza Technologies. Education continued in the exhibit hall in the Tech Tent and Solutions Stage with informative presentations from AGI Suretrack,  Aptar, Biomerieux, CAT2, Controlant, FoodLogiQ, INEXTA, ISTOBAL, JBS Logistics, Mettler Toledo,  MilliporeSigma, NSF International, Orkin, Pall, Purell, RiskLimiter, and SafetyChain.

Plans are already being made for the 23rd Annual Food Safety Summit which will be held as a hybrid event with a live portion at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL from Monday, May 10 through Thursday, May 13, 2021 and parts of the Summit being offered online. For more information, on sponsorship or exhibiting opportunities contact Kim Hansen at For more information and updates for the 2021 event, visit or follow on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

The 2020 Virtual Food Safety Summit included the following sessions and keynotes:

Monday, October 19:

  • Opening Session: COVID-19: The New Normal for the Food Industry (Includes a 2 hour session then 1 hour of moderated breakout group (recap)
  • S2: Food Safety Challenges of a Changing World
  • S3: Difficult to Detect Organisms: Management in the Face of Uncertainty
  • S4: How to Control Allergens – Bring Your Concerns and Leave with Solutions
  • S5: How Hep A Prepared Us for COVID and May Help End this Hep A Outbreak
  • S6: Novel Processing Technologies – Validation, Application, Regulation
  • S7: Developing Easy to Implement Food Safety Disaster Plans
  • S8: Foodservice/Retail Community Group
  • S9: Processors Community Group
  • State of the Industry in Food Safety

Tuesday, October 20:

  • S10: What Am I Getting Into? Suppliers & Co-Packers Linked to Food Safety (recap)
  • Keynote Presentation: Back to Basics: Consumer-Focused Food Safety (recap)
  • S11: Supply Chain Traceability: Collaboration, Momentum and Food Protection
  • S12: Foodborne Outbreaks in the News
  • S13: Don't Be Labeled for Having Bad Labels
  • S14: Indoor Farming – Review of the Safety of Hydroponic Products
  • S15: Risk Communications with Consumers During Outbreaks: A Research-Based Approach
  • S16: Kick FEAR to the Curb with Knowledge and Best Practices around COVID-19
  • S17: Regulatory Challenges with Non-Traditional Food Operations
  • S18: Fresh to the Industry Professionals

Wednesday, October 21:

  • S19: Food Fraud Prevention - Introduction, Implementation, and Management (recap)
  • Town Hall: Q&A with Top Regulators and Public Health Leaders (recap - will be live on Oct. 27)
  • S20: Partners with a Common Purpose
  • S21: Implementation of Preventive Controls for Human Food and other FSMA Rules - Where Are We Today?
  • S22: Meet the Editors – Discuss Hot Topics
  • Session 23: Part 2 of COVID Session

Thursday, October 22:

  • Session 24: Practice Improves Performance - Internal Audits for Food Processors (recapwill be live on Oct. 28)
  • GENERAL SESSION: Foodborne Illness Outbreak Mock Criminal Trial – A View from the Jury Box (recapwill be live on Oct. 29)

The Virtual Summit also included the following Solutions Stage and Tech Tent presentations:

  • Innovating EHEC Testing: New Biomarkers Answer the Challenge
  • How to Pass the Pest Control Portion of Your Food Safety Audit
  • Why Having ERP is Essential for Food Safety and Quality Control
  • Traceability Advancements in Grain Supply Chain Management
  • Compass Group: Opening Doors and Breaking Down Barriers with FoodLogiQ Connect
  • Why a 3PL? The Supply Chain: Your Final Defense for Quality Control
  • Preparing for Blockchain in “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety
  • FSMA 204 and Traceability: What You Need to Know and What You Can Start Doing Now
  • Automated Cooling Logs & Behavioral Based Inspections
  • The Importance of Proper Set Up and Validation
  • Dining on Thin Ice: Strategies for Promoting Safer Indoor Dining and Reassuring Customers During Winter Months
  • Environmental Monitoring Tools to Measure Microbiology Control in the Food Industry
  • How Active Packaging Technology Can Revolutionize the Food Safety Risk in Fresh Cut Food
  • ISTOBAL Introduces the HW’INTRAWASH, A Fleet Cleaning + Sanitizing System for Trailer Interiors
  • Mobile and Advanced Sugar Testing Solutions in Food & Beverage
  • Pathogens in Poultry: Lower Your Risk Using New Process Control Methods
  • Preparing Cold Supply Chains for the New Era of Smarter Food Safety: Setting the Groundwork for Technology Adoption


You can read all of Food Safety Strategies' coverage of the 2021 Food Safety Summit here.

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