If “counterfeiters attend anti-counterfeit conferences” then Food Fraudsters will be attending the Food Safety Summit next week in Baltimore. We just need to be aware of this and continue to raise the bar. There will be plenty of Food Fraud insights gained from what is said – and what isn’t said – in the presentations. If you are already planning on attending then look for my sessions. If you are not yet attending then consider the trip. But be aware… the fraudsters will be listening and looking for opportunities. What they’ll learn is that the agencies and industries are aligning to reduce the fraud opportunities.
The Food Safety Summit is one of the top Food Safety industry events. It has occurred each year in Washington, DC, though this year it is moving to Baltimore. I’ve been involved since 2007 when I was invited to join its Advisory Committee. I’ve presented each year on a range of topics from Packaging for Food Safety to Quantifying Food Risk (with co-presenter Gary Ades), and this will be my fourth year as a convener and presenter on Food Fraud. The Food Safety Summit has a goal to provide novel business-related insight on current traditional topics such as traceability and HACCP, but to also seek out emerging issues such as Food Fraud.
Another unique aspect of the Food Safety Summit is that the proximity to Washington, DC creates a tremendous opportunity to advance the public-private partnership. This conference probably has the highest attendance of agency personnel due to the nature of the content and the ability to further the mission of more transparency and collaboration. The involvement is from the State and Federal agencies.
There are always a number of great sessions and this year is no different. Even though we try to space out the similar sessions, there are inevitably slots where you’d want to be in two sessions as once.
Some opportunities to gather Food Fraud insights include:
- Workshop 4: 2013 Impact of the US Food Safety Modernization Act on International Regulatory Policies and Trade (Tuesday, April 30, 1:00-5:00pm). This is the only workshop running in this slot since it is a must-attend, offering a very important and unique opportunity to gain insight on the implementation of the new law.
- Keynote: The Future of Food Safety, Will Daniels, SVP, Earthbound Farms (Wednesday, May 1, 9:30-10:30am). He is a leader in the Food Safety field and very proactive in the way he manages their business. It will be very interesting to hear his perspective on the future of Food Safety. A month earlier, I had the chance to hear Hugo Byrnes (VP Product Integrity, Royal Ahold) speak on the future of GFSI at the GFSI Conference.
- Town Hall Roundtable (Thursday, May 2, 9:50-10:30am). This will be moderated by Gary Ades and include a panel of Michael Taylor (FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods), Elizabeth Hagen (USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety), and Joe Corby (Association of Food and Drug Officials Executive Director). While the FDA and USDA leaders need to stick to the official talking points, there are often insights on areas where they are considering adjustments or a shift in priorities.
- Session 12: Food Fraud/ Economically Motivated Adulteration (Thursday, May 2, 8:00-9:15am). This is the session that I co-convene with Jason Bashura (FDA Food Defense Team). He will moderate and provide opening remarks focusing on FDA’s Food Defense direction in this area. Their team is leading several other presentations including a four-hour workshop on their new Food Defense Plan Builder and another on Large Venue/ Event efforts. Next will be Neil Stiber who is with FDA and is the Chair of the Workgroup on Economically Motivated Adulteration. His insight is always excellent since he is also the FDA Director of Risk Services. This Summit is always a good opportunity to try to pick up on adjustments or nuances of the direction of the agencies… especially when considering their comments and emphasis this year compared to similar presentations last year. Regarding Food Fraud, FDA does have a formal “Request for Comments” that includes specific and detailed questions regarding Economically Motivated Adulteration. Next on the agenda will be an industry perspective from Yves Rey of Danone/Danon. He is also the Chair of GFSI and will provide direct insight on its direction regarding Food Fraud. I will be presenting an overview of Food Fraud with additional insight on trends.
Food Fraud and Economically Motivated Adulteration industry and agency direction is still under development… and the presentations at the Food Safety Summit will give us all insight on the future. It has been clear in the past – and I predict it to play out next week – that we all have an opportunity to shape the future of Food Fraud. Look for me at the Food Safety Summit either in our session or at the MSU Food Safety booth on the exhibit floor. Let me know what insight you picked up…. and let me know your opinion on what the fraudsters learned! JWS.