IAFP 2012 - Advancing Food Safety Worldwide

A number of high profile speakers from the FDA, USDA, industry and academia spoke at the event; discussing their ongoing work to monitor, manage and address food safety issues in today’s global food supply chain.Some of the interesting topics covered at the conference included:

  • When it comes to food safety, we are all in this together (i.e. regulators, industry and consumers).
  • A science based approach to food safety policy is the way forward, but what happens when scientists disagree? Consumers get confused and concerned.
  • Regulators are adopting risk based approaches, using advanced algorithms, to better target their inspection and commodity sampling regimes.

Creme had a particular interest in the Technical Session on Risk Assessment where Cronan McNamara gave a talk on ‘Probabilistic Dietary and Microbial Risk Assessment Software’. Cronan described a chemical food safety hazard: a pesticide Maximum Residue Level (MRL) breach and the impact that the event would have on consumers. Consumer exposure was compared to the Acute Reference Dose (ARfD) for the pesticide and the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for both adults and children.

Cronan also spoke about combining microbial growth modelling with Creme’s food consumption model and dose response model in order to carry out farm-to-fork microbial risk scenarios, using the example of E.Coli in Ground Beef. The talk was well received and there were a number of questions from FDA attendees as well as other participants.

The exhibition hall was full of energy during the coffee breaks, lunches and evening receptions. Leading lab companies and equipment manufacturers, who specialise in food testing and the detection of pathogens and contaminants, and a number of very interesting service providers providing electronic data capture and management services for companies presented at large stands. Creme was particularly interested in the data that is being produced and how this data can potentially feed into risk assessments and Creme risk analysis models. A number of good connections were made at the event and Creme will be exploring possible partnership opportunities to provide improved data and risk analysis services to our clients internationally.

The poster sessions conducted throughout the conference demonstrated a wide range of expertise and quality scientific research. There were a number of posters outlining research into new and improved pathogen detection methods; and also some interesting studies on microbial growth modelling, cross contamination probabilities and studies of prevalence of pathogens in various food commodities.

The Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence proved to be an excellent choice for the conference venue. The facilities and services at the venue and nearby in Providence made it a very enjoyable and valuable event.

Written by Cronan McNamara on July 26 2012

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