More than 1,500 food safety professionals gathered at BNP Media’s 16th Annual Food Safety Summit (FSS) last month in Baltimore, MD to learn about the latest FSMA updates and how they will affect their companies’ businesses. They also heard the latest on food fraud and learned about traceability, prerequisite programs to manage food safety and quality, agricultural water issues, ways of preparing and responding to natural disasters, regulatory affairs and more. On the exhibit floor, where 178 vendors displayed their products and services, attendees found tools for functions such as managing food safety and track-and-trace systems, rapidly analyzing products for contamination and providing sanitation.

Speakers at FSS presented key information about FSMA updates and changes, which emphasize preventing any occurrences that could result in food contamination, rather than “putting out fires” as or after they occur. Sessions included “Enforcing FSMA Requirements Through an Integrated Food Safety System,” “Food Safety Hazards Revisited” and “Food Fraud/Economically Motivated Adulteration.”

In the Food Fraud presentation, Douglas Moyer, instructor at the Food Fraud Institute at Michigan State University, noted 11 mentions of “intentional adulteration” in FSMA. Moyer pointed out that the public comment period for Section 106 on Intentional Adulteration has been extended. He also encouraged food safety professionals to participate in rulemaking, emphasizing that in addition to considering terrorism of our food and water supplies as part of food defense, “food fraud should have a place at the table under the food protection umbrella.” Moyer added, “So if that’s the direction we’re going to take, we need to reopen preventive controls and talk about food fraud with respect to HACCP.” According to one change to FSMA, “catastrophic events” (traditionally food defense), adulteration by disgruntled employees and economically motivated adulteration are now placed under Preventive Controls.

While food processors do their best to maintain food safety and quality in their plants, problems can and do happen in transportation. A session entitled, “Storage and Distribution: The Forgotten Food Safety Link,” addressed these issues and included presenters from Dawn Foods, US Foods, The Acheson Group, Feeding America and Avendra. Dawn Food Products has a comprehensive set of global policies on preventive controls and system management aspects that are consistent with manufacturing and food safety standards such as IFS and FSMA. The company also has GFSI accreditations. Stephen Thome, vice president, global quality and food safety at Dawn Foods, asked why there shouldn’t be food safety systems in food logistics. “Between 2 and 12 percent of all food in the farm-to-fork cycle is lost. Reasons for losses include improper handling, temperature problems and products sitting too long on loading docks. If you look at this list, these are very solvable, common problems.” Thome added, “Issues like cross-contamination, spoiled product and pest infestation provide an economic incentive for all of us to improve [this situation].” Thome suggested that, with the creation of food safety management systems applied to logistics, much of this loss could be prevented.

Ed Lonergan, Chiquita Brands CEO, and Don Zietlow, CEO of Kwik Trip, Inc., shared their passion for food safety in the opening keynote. After the keynote, BNP Media’s Scott Wolters presented a donation on behalf of Chiquita Brands and Kwik Trip to Mitzi Baum, director of food safety for Feeding America. The nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, Feeding America supplies food to more than 25 million Americans each year.

The FSS 13th Annual Food Quality and Safety Award was presented to Backyard Farms of Madison, ME for its contributions to food safety and consumer satisfaction with a positive impact on business results. The event began with a presentation by Sara Mortimore, vice president of product safety, quality assurance and regulatory affairs, Land O’Lakes.

Gina Nicholson, NSF Global client director of retail food services, presented the 11th Annual Food Safety Leadership Awards. The 2014 NSF Food Safety Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award was presented posthumously to William Keene, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist, acute & communicable disease prevention, Oregon Public Health Division. The 2014 NSF Food Safety Leadership Awards for Training and Education were presented to Jason Bashura, RS senior food defense analyst, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (now working at PepsiCo), and Brian Nummer, extension food safety specialist, Utah State University.