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Food Safety Tops Agenda at FPSA Operations Conference

September 18, 2009
Members of FPSA (Food Processing Suppliers Association) and the IFT (Institute of Food Technologists) met in Chicago on September 10 to discuss food safety at the Annual Operations Conference of FPSA. The two general session speakers were IFT members, Dr. Katherine Swanson, vice president, Ecolab, and Dr. Joseph Shebuski, director of global safety for Cargill Inc.

Swanson’s presentation, “Food Safety-A Never Ending Quest”, provided a global overview of the food safety issue. “It is estimated”, said Swanson, “that there are over 1 billion cases of food borne illness that result in over 1 million deaths worldwide”. The four major factors contributing to U.S. food borne illness are: food at room temperature for several hours; bare-hand contact by food handler; inadequate cleaning of equipment; and handling by infected person or carrier.

“Supplier understanding of food safety issues is essential”, said Swanson in her concluding remarks, “requiring time, commitment, communication, and training.”

Moving from the general overview to the specific, Dr. Shebuski’s presentation asked, “What is the Food Processing Suppliers’ Role in Ensuring the Safety of Food Products”? The presentation was illustrated by numerous visuals of equipment that, because of improper design, could contribute to food borne illness. He summarized his recommendations to suppliers with the following:
 
• Ensure the equipment can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized
• Design for efficient and complete disassembly/reassembly
• Eliminate areas likely to harbor pathogens or prevent the complete removal of allergens
• Ensure the equipment is constructed of materials compatible with cleaning/sanitation chemicals
• Provide direction for preventive maintenance
• Provide validation data demonstrating the capability of the equipment to achieve its intended purpose

FPSA and IFT members continued their discussions in breakout sessions in the afternoon featuring the Bakery Industry Council and the Meat Industry Suppliers Alliance (MISA). Sponsors of Process Expo, FPSA will co-locate this event with the Annual Conference and IFT Food Expo in Chicago in July of 2010.

The FPSA is a global trade association serving suppliers in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. The Association's programs and services support member’s success by providing assistance in marketing their products and services, overall improvement in key business practices, and many opportunities to network among industry colleagues.