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    Real World, Hands-On Food Safety at Fresh Summit

    Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

    Food safety is a vital produce industry issue and will be a key theme of our educational programming at PMA’s 2011 Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition, October 14 through 17 in Atlanta, Georgia. I’d like to share some information about what we have planned this year to help you bring crucial food safety solutions back to your business.

    Food safety has evolved to the status of a top business function in our industry – just as important to the operation of the company as sales, production, or human resources. Many have heard me speak in the past to the importance of fully integrating food safety into the fabric of the company and executing it daily. Our learning lab on Food Safety and Crisis Management for Your Company is designed as a unique hands-on experience combining two critical perspectives on the importance of developing a comprehensive food safety program in your company.

    The session will incorporate experience from both the operational side of the industry as well as the scientific community to help participants explore why a food safety culture is essential to a company’s continued success. Through a series of exercises, attendees will identify real-world ways to address key food safety issues. In a unique feature of the session, PMA Chief Operating Officer Lorna Christie will share her crisis management expertise. Because even the best efforts may not prevent a crisis, every company should be prepared with a crisis management plan. Lorna will cover the elements of a good crisis management plan, gaps that may exist in your current plan and ideas to update it to “crisis plan 2.0.”

    Presentations will be given in a learning-lab environment, so come prepared to work. The session is designed to provide ample opportunity to use the presented information in a hands-on application via discussion groups. A series of exercises will help identify real-world ways to build this culture in your own business. Our goal is to stimulate thoughts and ideas you can take home to use in your company and give guidance on how to communicate your efforts to your customers, regulators and consumers.

    Another critical vault of information will be opened at the workshop Imagine That! Food Safety Research with Real World Business Solutions. As many already know, PMA founded the Center for Produce Safety along with Taylor Farms, the University of California at Davis, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture in late 2007. Since 2008, CPS has funded 55 research programs totaling $9.2 million. CPS has also now held two symposia, in 2010 and 2011, to present some of the initial research findings, and discuss them with growers, shippers, processors, regulators and members of the buying community. 

    However, funding food safety research in and of itself is not enough, the research must be translated into what it means for the people who need to use the data in building effective food safety programs. While the CPS symposia broke new ground in uniting leaders in academia, government, and from all levels of the produce supply chain in an interactive discussion of the research’s real-world opportunities, there is still room to grow. This Fresh Summit workshop will provide a great opportunity to highlight some of the significant CPS research results delivered thus far and talk about our key learnings. We’ll put this new research into laymen’s terms and outline business implications for suppliers and buyers resulting in research findings you can actually use.

    We’re on exciting new turf here as we utilize research specifically targeted to our industry’s needs. As I’ve said so often before, food safety is personal and customized — it’s not one size fits all. Participants in both these workshops should come prepared to think about this information as it relates to their specific operation and to embrace these discussions for the betterment of our business, our customers and our consumers. I look forward to some constructive interaction at both these sessions.

    For more information on registering for Fresh Summit, or any of the workshops, please log onto our website www.pma.com and look for the Fresh Summit link under Events and Conferences.