Food safety remained the central theme for Pest Invasion 2016 held last month in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. The annual seminar, hosted by McCloud Services, featured experts on pest management in the food industry who presented information on exclusion, sanitation and other important components of a food safety program.

In his talk “Food Defense Roadmap of the Future,” Rod Wheeler of The Global Defense Institute discussed people as being one of the biggest risks to food safety and the people who produce food. Site vulnerability, cyber security, and product theft all put the food supply at risk. Wheeler recommends that all employees and vendors (particularly pest management professionals) always be on the watch for suspicious activity and report anything that looks unusual.

In “Active Managerial Control: Implementing Food Safety Management Systems in a Food Retail Business,” Hal King of Public Health Innovations, LLC focused on the need for systematic procedures in protecting consumers from foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurants. King shared that proper implementation starts with a commitment from the top down that produces systems that are specifically trained upon in a facility with food flow that supports the systems that were designed. Verification and self-assessment is a vital part of the process, allowing managers to identify gaps in the system and increase training to ensure proper execution of the system.

Representing the Illinois Institute of Technology, Robert Brackett emphasized the need for a food safety culture. In his presentation, Brackett said the lack of a food safety culture leads to red flags for auditing bodies, resulting in them checking and scrutinizing the facility more often than they may have otherwise. The culture is the result of food safety behavior based off of shared values held by all employees of the company. Employees of a company with a food safety culture actively try to find food safety issues, as opposed to avoiding them or running into them when they become a problem. A lack of sanitation preventative controls results in pathogens transferred from cross-contamination, exposure to pathogens in the environment, or food allergen cross-contamination. Strict documentation, training, and execution of sanitation preventive controls are essential to keeping the population safe, a population that is living longer and therefore susceptible to foodborne illnesses longer.