Food companies will often fiercely guard their trade secrets when it comes to food formulations, ingredients and industrial processes in order to maintain a competitive advantage over rivals. The most famous example of this is possibly the secret formula for Coca-Cola, known only to a few employees at the company. This understandable reluctance on the part of industry to share the levels of different ingredients in their products is what often gives rise to conflict when regulators are trying to assess the safety of different food chemicals.
Thankfully though, food safety is in general an area where there is a much more open spirit of collaboration, as the benefits of a safe food supply benefit everybody on the planet. This collaboration was in plain sight last week at the International Association of Food Protection’s (IAFP) Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. Thousands of attendees comprised of researchers, regulators and food safety professionals from industry gathered at this event to discuss the latest developments in food safety and exchange ideas on best practices. Having attended a number of the European meetings, my colleague Conor McGauran and I attended for the first time and were not disappointed.
A large variety of talks and posters were on display over the four day conference. The traditional areas of food microbiology, food-borne illness and pathogen detection were there in abundance (with detection methods also making up a significant proportion of the stands in the exhibition hall). In addition to this, what was great to see this year was a significant number of symposia in the area of risk assessment, modelling and software – all of which are areas close to our heart at Creme Global. In keeping with themes that we love, there were also very interesting sessions on the benefits of big data analysis (an emerging area of interest in food safety) and a significantly larger number of symposia on chemical food safety.
Not to be outdone, I presented a talk on models and software for food additive exposure in Europe, as well as a poster on a microbial stability calculator for beverage formulations. It’s encouraging to see that the significance of these approaches being recognised at IAFP, who also have a number of Professional Development Groups focused on these themes too. Suffice to say, we’re looking forward to returning next year!