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

Swanson’s presentation was entitled, “Food Safety-A Never Ending Quest,” and provided a global overview of the food safety issue.

“It is estimated,” Swanson said, “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,” Swanson said, “requiring time, commitment, communication and training.”

Moving from the general overview to the specific, Shebuski’s presentation asked, “What is the food processing suppliers’ role in ensuring the safety of food products?”

Shebuski’s 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.
FPSA, sponsors of Process Expo, will co-locate this event with the Annual Conference and IFT Food Expo in July of 2010, in Chicago.