The 17th Annual Food Safety Summit went on as scheduled at the Baltimore Convention Center this week. Over 1,200 food safety professionals from around the world convened to discuss the most pressing issues facing the food industry including Food Fraud, the Food Safety Modernization Act, and the Integration of the Nation's Food Safety Systems. The event kicked off on Monday, April 27th with two successful certification programs for HACCP and Seafood HACCP.

"With so many attendees in town for the Food Safety Summit we worked closely with the Baltimore Convention Center and City Officials to determine if we should move forward with the event after the unrest in the city Monday night," said Scott Wolters, Event Director. "After careful consideration and several discussions with city officials, members of the Summit's Educational Advisory Board and our exhibitors we decided to open the event on Tuesday morning as scheduled. When we saw the participation and support our attendees demonstrated throughout the event, I knew we made the right call."

Attendees had the opportunity to participate in timely workshops, informative sessions and network with over 160 vendors who showcased specialty products and services designed to help food safety professionals do their job more effectively and efficiently. Major leaders in the industry including FDA's Mike Taylor, USDA's Al Amanza, AFDO's Joe Corby, CDC's Chris Braden and senior operations executives from Chiquita Brands, Hormel Brands and The Cheesecake Factory shared their insights on departmental cooperation with determined industry professionals who attended and benefited from this important event.

The event kicked off with two pre-certification programs on HACCP and Seafood HACCP. On Tuesday afternoon conference attendees participated in the AFDO Forum on Integrating the Nation's Food Safety Systems which was hosted by Joe Corby. In addition there were three half day workshops on Pre-Requisite Programs, Finance for Non-Financial Professionals and Novel Techniques for Food Handlers. The Welcome Reception, which was sponsored by Arent Fox attracted 500 attendees who gathered to network during a beautiful spring evening on the terrace at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The opening keynote featured Charlean Gmunder, former VP of Manufacturing with Chiquita Brands, Donnie Temperley, VP of Operations, Hormel Foods Corporation and Keith Carango, Senior VP, COO, The Cheesecake Factory Bakery, Inc. who shared their commitment for collaboration with their food safety teams and stressed the importance that food safety is a strategic imperative for any food company.

A few of the highlights from the conference program included a Two Part Food Fraud Session with international speakers from the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, the European Commission, and the Queens University Belfast who focused on Food Fraud trends beyond the US, and provided insight on related industry, legal, and regulatory activities. A five part series on FSMA that focused on how the industry and regulatory agencies will implement the new rules and mandates of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and focused on the implementation of FSMA, the Produce Rule, the Preventive Controls Rule, the Imports Rules, and the Intentional Adulteration Rule. The Outbreak Investigation Session which looked at the role of the foodborne disease outbreak investigation that took place at the 2014 Summit and the final Hot Topic Session which provided attendees an opportunity to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the industry including leadership, local sourcing, food safety systems, the PCA case and more.

"We thank our Educational Advisory Board who developed a stellar conference program, as well as our sponsors, who helped to support this dynamic conference," said Scott Wolters, Director for the Food Safety Summit. "We heard from so many attendees how important it is to participate in the Food Safety Summit to gather tools for today and make plans for tomorrow."

On Wednesday evening attendees enjoyed the Food Safety Summit Gives Back Networking Reception to benefit Feeding America. Chuck Wilson of BNP Media presented Mitzi Baum, Director of Food Safety for Feeding America with a donation of $5,000 to help provide 50,000 meals on behalf of the sponsors, speakers, exhibitors, and attendees. Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief charity, with network members supply food to more than 25 million Americans each year. The donation was made possible with the help of the event benefactors ROKA Bioscience, Eurofins, Rentokil and BUNTING Magnetics.

On Thursday morning attendees participated in The 4th Annual Town Hall. Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods, FDA; Alfred Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, USDA; Joseph Corby, Executive Director of the Association of Food and Drug Officials and Christopher Braden, Director of Foodborne Diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention answered important questions from the audience about varied topics. The Town Hall was moderated by Gary Ades, President of G&L Consulting and Chairman of the Summit Educational Advisory Board.

Prior to the Town Hall, Robert Prevendar, Global Managing Director, Supply Chain Food Safety, NSF International presented the 12th Annual Food Safety Leadership Awards. The 2015 NSF Food Safety Innovation Awards were presented to Robert O'Connor, DVM, Foster Farms and to Frank Ferko, Director of Distribution for US Foods. The awards for Training & Education were presented to Robert Whitaker, PhD, Produce Marketing Association and Chef Peter Fulgenzi, IU Health North Hospital.

On the trade show floor over 160 exhibiting companies including Gold Sponsor Roka Bioscience; Silver Sponsor Alchemy Systems and Bronze Sponsor Eurofins met with attendees to showcase their new products and services. Two full days of presentations from exhibitors were offered in the Exhibitor Showcase Theatres, as a chance for attendees to hear from subject matter experts about the newest solutions and technologies in food safety and security. Exhibitor showcase presentations were given by Kollmorgen, Matthews Marking Systems, Sea Hawk Systems, ORBIS, Copesan, ROKA Bioscience, Mettler Toledo, NAStar Inc., and RF Biocidics.

Throughout the event safety was of course is a major priority for all of the events guests, staff and visitors. The Food Safety Summit staff met twice daily with the Executive Director, head of security and the public information officer at the convention center and were constantly briefed on the situation in and around Baltimore. "The steady support, intelligence and transparency that the city and the convention center staff showed the Summit during this very difficult time was outstanding," Wolters reiterated.

Plans are already being made for the 2016 Food Safety Summit which will be held for the first time in Chicago from Tuesday, May 10 through Thursday, May 12, 2016 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. In addition, BNP Media will sponsor the 6th Annual Food Safety Summit Resource Center at Pack Expo; September 28-30, 2015 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information, on sponsorship or exhibiting opportunities call Chuck Wilson at 630-962-0078 or visit Follow The Food Safety Summit on Twitter and Facebook.

Source: Food Safety Summit