A Guide to the Annual Food Safety Summit and Expo

Everything You Need to Know About the Summit from Agenda Items to Speakers

Worker preparing haddock fish for smoking in food factory
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The annual Food Safety Summit is a large industry conference and expo designed to provide food safety information and education to the wide range of sectors that make up the U.S. food industry. Providing three full days of educative opportunity, the summit allows the country’s food industry to gain top insight and the most up to date information available when it comes to food safety.

As the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) moves full steam ahead, the sessions and certifications offered at the Food Safety Summit and headed by top experts in the industry provide an invaluable opportunity for growers, processors, retailers, distributors, foodservice operators, regulators, and members of academia to be as informed as possible.

The Food Safety Summit Agenda

Every year, the Food Safety Summit offers three full days of informative sessions, workshops, and even certification courses for its attendees selected and developed by the summit's Education Advisory Board (EAB). The EAB is made up of about twenty volunteers who are all industry leaders representing the key areas that are most important to food safety professionals. While the informative sessions are a key pull for conference attendees, the summit isn't without its networking opportunities with "peer breakfasts" and evening welcome and networking receptions.

The conference is mainly funded by sponsors who join the conference as an opportunity to teach target customers and prospects while also building brand image and recognition. Each conference dedicates several hours in its agenda for attendees to visit the exhibition hall where sponsoring exhibitors set up booths and what the conference dubs "solution stage" presentations are given.

Every year, the agenda is built to include sessions on the most relevant topics in food safety, and the schedule is packed. Each year's conference offers three to four certifications courses, three to four workshops, about twenty different keynote sessions.

Food Safety Summit Certification Programs

Every year, attendees have the opportunity to become certified in key areas of food safety through day-long courses and scheduled sit-down exams.

Though the certification programs offered at each year's conference can change, the last several years have offered course multiple certifications in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).

As the food industry becomes increasingly regulated under FSMA, it has become mandatory for companies within food processing and handling to have general HACCP certification. This two and a half day certification program provides professionals in the food processing industry knowledge and tools needed to create or update their company’s HACCP plan, which are required to pass any third-party food safety audits.

HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards of raw material production, procurement, and handling, to manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the finished product. In the past, multiple certification courses dedicated to HACCP have been offered from one dedicated to its general application within the entire food industry to courses dedicated to specific industries like seafood regulation.

Other certification programs offered at the Food Safety Summit have included courses in food fraud, preventive controls for human foods, and food safety auditor training.

Food Safety Summit Workshops and Sessions

Each year, the conference offers several half-day workshops and shorter sessions that are all what the summit managers call "solution-based." Workshops have included focused sessions dedicated to food safety, quality control, and traceability as well as sessions dedicated to the business of food safety from building a brand to marketing.

Attendees also have the opportunity to attend a workshop designed to provide a foundation for safety and quality management which the summit agenda deems the "pre-requisite programs." These workshop programs also change slightly from year to year, but generally focus on sanitation, pest management, chemical programs, environmental monitoring, and proper training and development of employees.

Summit Guest Speakers and Town Hall Participants

Part of the conference's attraction is the opportunity to learn from and network with important food safety professionals and experts in the industry. Every year, the agenda is packed with opportunities to hear theses guest speakers discuss some of the most pressing issues and solutions in food safety, but perhaps one of the most interesting agenda items is the summit's Town Hall.

The Town Hall portion of the conference agenda offers attendees the unique opportunity for interactive discussions on the latest food safety issues with key government officials. In the past, Town Hall guests have included some of the country’s top representatives from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO).

For more information on this year's Food Safety Summit, be sure to check out the summit's website.

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