– OPINION –

ROSEMONT, IL — Food Safety News is an attendee, exhibitor, and panel sponsor at the Food  Safety Summit now underway at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL

The panel we sponsored Tuesday was titled “Effectively Communicating with the Regulatory Community.”  It featured two of the best spokesman I’ve heard from  USDA and FDA — Phil Bornstein and Mark Moorman.

Bernstein is the assistant administrator for USDA’s field operations at the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Moorman is the director of food safety for FDA’s  Center for Food Safety and Nutrition (CFSAN) unit. They were ably joined by Steve Mandernach from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) in addition to Jorge Hernandez from Wendy’s and Will Daniel of ArgoThrive Inc.

If our panelists had one message for the standing room only attendees it was this:  Get to know our regulator. Trade phone and email contact information with them so you can get ahold of them if you need to on a Friday night or during the weekend.

One of the places where you can meet regulators, of course, is by attending conferences like the Food Safety Summit. The pandemic largely wiped out this opportunity during the past two years. At Food Safety News, we have, like others, wondered if in-person conferences like these would not be a victim of a “new normal” that would see us avoiding people in the future.

This would mean there would be fewer opportunities for forging the sort of personal relationships our panelists said are critical to food safety.  Overseeing our panel was Oscar Gattison, vice president for United Egg, and a former Georgia food safety official.

The panelists offered several examples of where “the conversation” accomplished compliance, which they said “is the goal.”

BNP Media produces the Food Safety Summit, which for the first time since 2019  is back as a live event at Rosemont.

For 24 years, the Food Safety Summit has gathered leading subject matter experts from various backgrounds to learn the most effective solutions, evaluate the latest technology, and network with like-minded peers.

In 2022, it returned to an in-person meeting after two successful (but greatly distanced) years in virtual formats.

It’s been promising that attendees and exhibitors would find the chance to reconnect with one another face-to-face worthwhile. Actually, it’s delivered more than that as people are being reminded of the great value of personal contact.

Back to our late Tuesday afternoon panel, it’s a reminder of how much we rely on other people.  It definitely finds what we’ve been missing. Call it the secret formula. We just heard a bunch of experts who told you that is what is necessary for success in food safety.

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