The 21st Annual Food Safety Summit occurred last week in Rosemont, IL, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, and over 1,400 food safety professionals representing the leading foodservice and retail establishments, manufacturers and processors, distributors, regulators, and academicians attended. This leading industry event, designed to meet the educational and informational needs of the entire food industry, also attracted a virtual audience of more than 400 food safety professionals, and 135 exhibiting companies. During the four day event, food safety professionals participated in interactive sessions, heard from industry and government leaders, found new innovations and solutions on the show floor and networked at several events.
The sprawling exhibit hall featured more than 135 vendors showcasing products and services including Platinum Sponsor Sani Professional, Gold Sponsor Purell, Bronze Sponsor Alchemy and Solution Stage Sponsors bioMerieux, Lubriplate, FoodLogiQ, TraQtion, NSF, Eurofins, ClorDiSys Systems, Rubber Export Promotion Council, Compliance Cops, Siemens, Rentokil Steritech, FoodChain ID and Mettler Toledo.
In addition, the expo hall featured three new areas, including the Community Hub, sponsored by Purell, which was designed for attendees to meet with subject matter experts from the Summit speaker faculty; the Tech Tent, where standing-room only crowds listened about the latest software and hardware available for food safety professionals to use; and the Learning Lounge, where experts moderated discussions about several very important topics, including food allergens, cannabis, testing and sampling, certificate courses, paperless solution and management commitment.
Day One (Tuesday, May 7):
- The Summit kicked off with a session on How to Prepare for, Manage and Survive a High-Profile Food Safety Crisis, with presenters from Chipotle (James Marsden), Cultivate Food Safety (Lone Jespersen), IEH (Will Daniels), Kwik Trip (Jay Ellingson), and more.
- The afternoon session Foodborne Outbreaks in the News provided insight from CDC employees. We learned that the CDC will close an investiation after reports of illnesses stop or return to "expected levels."
Day Two (Wednesday, May 8):
- "What Will Drive Future Food Safety Progress?" was the keynote presentation of the day, by Michael Taylor, senior fellow at the Meridian Institute and co-chair of the Board of Stop Foodborne Illness. Taylor spoke about the Jack in the Box outbreak, from 1992/93, and how it affected how both industry and government take responsibility to prevent foodborne illness; there were four deaths and over 500 illnesses resulting from the outbreak. Nowadays, social media is now making awareness of outbreaks nearly universal and instant, too.
- At 11 a.m., Al Baroudi from The Cheesecake Factory talked about "Food Allergens - What You Need to Know," and shared anecdotes about inspections that the Cheesecake Factory has had done (Fun Fact: The Cheesecake Factory has a location in Saudi Arabia, and it once got shut down for 24 hours due to a labeling mishap!). The Cheesecake Factory is currently working on an allergen database for customers, where they can input their allergies and itw ill tell them what they can or cannot eat at the restaurant.
- At 2:45 p.m., Steven Lyon, Ph.D. and Davis Addy (Chick-fil-A, Inc.), as well as Dan Tew from YUM! brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC), and Lauren DiPrete from Southern Nevada Health District discussed "Innovative Social Media and Digital Tools to Reduce Risks." There are now ways to track people who get sick but don't report it—for example, if you have your location services turned on and you stop by a fast food restaurant, and then later do Google searches on "why do I feel poorly" or "why do I feel sick," those people can actually be tracked and used in the illness reports that the company makes.
Day Three (Thursday, May 9):
- At 11 a.m., Omar Oyarzabal, University of Vermont, spoke on Testing and Sampling Protocols for Food Safety, specifically microbial testing of ingredients.
- At 12:30 p.m., Davide Picciotto from Siemens spoke about "Improving Health in F&B with IoT and Blockchain," and how blockchain and the Internet of Things can help solve problems in the food and beverage industry. Picciotto spoke about how blockchain adds a layer of trust and visibility required for consumers, and it's expected to achieve mainstream adoption sooner rather than later. IoT can also be used to standardize data.
Plans are already being made for the 22nd Annual Food Safety Summit which will again be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL from Monday, May 4 through Thursday, May 7, 2020. For more information, on sponsorship or exhibiting opportunities contact Kim Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org. For 2020 event information and updates visit www.foodsafetysummit.com and for year-round food safety news, updates and insights covering all food-processing segments visit www.food_safety.com. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.