Thanks to the myriad safety-related conferences, expositions, seminars, and other events the industry has produced in the first part of this year, food industry professionals are likely getting exhausted.
With the calendar jam-packed with events like meat-industry focused International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta, laboratory-centric Analytica in Munich, and holistic Global Food Safety Conference in Anaheim, food safety professionals have barely had time to breathe. Unless your position affords you an unlimited travel budget, scads of spare time, and the ability to be everywhere at once, you have to pick and choose which events are must-attend, and which you’d be okay missing.
The editors of FoodProductionDaily and FoodQualityNews, who have been scouring many of these events looking for the latest scoop, feel your pain. Like other food professionals, FPD and FQN scribes have to prioritize and pick out the best shows of the bunch—is the Food Safety Summit (which just wrapped up in Baltimore) worth singling out?
Like most safety-centric events, the Food Safety Summit contains an educational component, with workshops and keynote addresses. Sharon Wood, director of food safety and quality assurance for grocery chain H-E-B, told FoodProductionDaily the information the event plies attendees with is extremely useful.
“The Food Safety Summit has evolved into a summit of tools to bring home, and not just file away, but to use to better your business, no matter what part of the industry you’re in,” she said.
The Food Safety Summit program schedule delivers; sessions on the 2014 agenda included workshops constructing a safety and quality management strategy, staging a mock recall, preventing food fraud, and other hot topics. Those, along with certification tracks for HACCP, ServSafe, and other programs, add value to the event.
Networking with peers is a frequent draw to conferences; meeting with other people in similar roles enables event attendees to discuss and hammer out common concerns. However, it also is worthwhile to have the ability to rub elbows with people with titles different than your own, as well as representatives from customers, suppliers, and even other sectors of the food industry.
Again, the Food Safety Summit delivers. Speakers include academics from reputed institutions like Michigan State University and Rutgers, agencies like the US Department of Agriculture, foodservice operations like The Cheesecake Factory, Kwik Trip and other retailers, and food brand owners like Chiquita.
Granted, with fewer than 200 exhibitors showcasing their equipment and services, the exhibition at the Food Safety Summit is dwarfed by broader shows food folks might attend. For example, PROCESS EXPO 2013 had more than 800 suppliers, and PACK EXPO 2014 (coming up November 2-5 in Chicago) is expected to host more than 1,800.
However, because the suppliers are all honed in on the specialized area of food safety, the Food Safety Summit’s modest exhibitor list offers more technology for food safety professionals to take in. Additionally, the exhibits cover a broad array of specialties under the food safety umbrella, from pathogen testing, to pest management, to training, and more.