This morning, the 21st annual Food Safety Summit in Rosemont, IL, kicked off with its signature Keynote Presentation, this year delivered by former Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and current board co-chair of STOP Foodborne Illness. Mike was our featured guest in Ep. 10 of the Food Safety Matters podcast.

Mike's talk, "What Will Drive the Future of Food Safety Progress?" focused on foodborne illness outbreaks over the years and how industry and government have had to keep up. He laid out how previous food crises have led to the implementation of greater food safety practices:

  • Jack in the Box = Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
  • Mad cow disease (UK) = Global Food Safety Initiative
  • Spinach outbreak = Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA)
  • Produce, peanuts, and melamine = Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
  • Romaine lettuce = pending

Although Mike says that sweeping change after the romaine lettuce outbreaks of 2018 remains to be seen (besides some recent updates to water use rules announced by the California LGMA), there are a few key historical drivers of progress and change after a food safety crisis. Those historical drivers are:

  • consumer demand
  • industry change and innovation
  • government policy change

Mike's presentation also went into great detail about the problems he believes need to be addressed. Those include:

  • Comprehensive implementation of FSMA
  • Real-time traceback and trace forward—Mike commented that there's been a failure within the industry to do what is known to work and that there is no excuse because there are tools available.
  • The physical proximity of produce growers and animal agriculture such as cattle farms—Mike said that cattle production and produce production should not be in such close proximity. He also said, in response to an audience question, that the only solution to ensure produce safety, in his opinion, is to cease operations until produce growers can prove their methods are safe.

"50 years from now, this is not how we're going to make food," he said.

Mike's talk went on to describe how STOP Foodborne Illness is doing its part to help make food and consumers safer. His presentation ended by announcing that Mitzi Baum, formerly of Feeding America, is the new CEO of STOP Foodborne Illness. Former CEO Deirdre Schlunegger, who was our featured guest in Ep. 18 of the Food Safety Matters podcast, will retire effective June 2019.